NWC REU 2020
May 26 - July 31



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Rapid Urbanization, Changing Croplands and Increasing Population Health Vulnerabilities in the China-Central Asia-West Asia Economic Corridor

Hope Judkins and Kirsten de Beurs


What is already known:

  • The Belt and Road Initiative composed of 6 corridors is a global infrastructure development strategy adopted by the Chinese government in 2013 to invest in nearly 70 countries and international organizations.
  • The China-Central Asia-West Asia Economic Corridor (CCAWAEC) crosses 5 Central Asia Countries which facilitate economic and trade cooperation and flow of capital to regions, boosting local economic and social development.
  • Remote sensing is the process of detecting and monitoring the physical characteristics of an area by measuring its reflected and emitted radiation at a distance.

What this study adds:

  • An intense study, using satellite-derived, to clearly understand the impacts of the CCWAEC in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
  • Identified factors in Almaty such as population growth/decay, changes in cropland, socio-economic impacts, and urban morphology from 1994-2019 that made it susceptible to emerging health vulnerabilities.


Inspired by the Silk Road, China’s President, Xi Jinping, established the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013. The BRI, consisting of six economic corridors, connects China with other countries to improve inter- national trade, financial integration, and prosperity. The China-Central Asia-West Asia Economic Corridor (CCAWAEC) focuses on establishing numerous transportation and other infrastructure projects and provides a land bridge to enhance and increase trading to Europe. Many countries in Central Asia, such as Kazakhstan, have benefited from the initiative to view a rise in economic growth and infrastructure enhancements. Rapid urbanization and economic growth have deteriorated agricultural land and increased population health vulnerabilities. Based on satellite-derived data, the dynamics and changes of land cover over the past 25 years were outlined along with the causes. It was initially concluded that with the initiation of BRI, cropland decreased while barren land increased. After further investigation, the shift of urbanization from Central Almaty to Northwest Almaty, cropland has begun to increase while barren land fell. However, urbanization is still considered a threat to agricultural land and water availability.

Full Paper [PDF]