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ADB to double lending to water sector in Asia by 2018

Yokohama, Japan : The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has decided to expand annual lending to the crucial water sector in Asia to $4.2 billion this year, a steep hike over the $2.4 billion it lent to the region’s countries in 2016.

In 2018, annual lending would further go up to $4.8 billion, said ADB Deputy Director General Amy Leung. Beginning this year, the Manila-based lender will also be combining its lending operations of its concessional financing with its ordinary capital resources.

Addressing the media on the eve of the 50th annual meeting of the ADB at Yokohama, Japan, Leung indicated that the lender’s focus during 2017 would be to “scale up and expand our water projects”. “We will continue to promote more innovative and transformative technology in water projects,” Leung said.

The ADB aims to extend $13.27 billion worth of financing for water projects across all its developing member-countries between 2017 and 2019.

Although no figures were given out for India in particular, considering that the country has been among the major recipients of ADB funds during past several years, it is believed that a sizeable part of the proposed $4.2 billion amount this year would flow to India.

As many as 29 countries out of 48 countries in the Asia-Pacific region are currently facing water insecurity. India too has been struggling with water scarcity issues, with the harsh summer months bringing on extreme shortages in several cities.

The ADB has decided to increase water projects in the region considering that many Asian countries would end up with least per capita availability, said Leung.

The ADB Deputy DG was of the view that with competing demands for finite water resources from agriculture, energy, cities and the environment, the gap between supply and demand for water is expected to increase to 40 per cent 2030.

“With the world’s population expected to rise to 10 billion by 2050, we will also need to double food production over the same period, but with the same water resources”, she added.

During 2017, ADB will focus on promotion of innovative and transformative technology such as expanding the use of remote sensing technology for water accounting and productivity in irrigation systems, desalination for water supply and sludge dewatering treatment technology in wastewater management.

Also, it would look for cross-sector collaborations like having a agriculture thematic group on developing business models for high efficiency irrigation or having in place a energy team that would look for ways to improve efficiency in water projects and optimize operations of multipurpose dams.

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