Water Policy and Related Operations

Date: October 2010
Type: Evaluation Reports
Evaluation; Water
Series: Special Evaluation Studies


Water security is one of the greatest global challenges. Significant improvements are needed in water management policies and practices to sustain lives and food production, support larger urban populations, and improve environmental sustainability in Asia and the world.

In 2001 ADB launched its water policy in response to these concerns, which are closely linked to poverty and potential regional disputes. The water policy recognizes the fundamental distinction between water as a “resource and water as a “service." Between 1992 and 2009, ADB’s loan approvals for the water sector totalled $16.3 billion, 13% of total lending in the period. Water supply and sanitation accounted for the biggest (34%) water loan subsector.

This study assesses the implementation of the policy and performance of ADB’s water lending program, and makes recommendations to inform future ADB decision making in this area.

The study concludes that the water lending program was effective in achieving many intended objectives. However, sustainability was rated as one of the weakest aspects, with only 44% of completed projects approved since 1992 rated likely sustainable or most likely sustainable.

The study identifies lessons to improve ADB’s support for water projects. Among them: that at the strategic level, an effective policy has to be grounded in the core business of enterprises. The study notes there was a substantial gap between what was planned and actually implemented in integrated water resources management projects, indicating that past experience and lessons did not influence the design of subsequent projects.

The study recommends that ADB develop an operational framework and implementation plans to advance its water policy, and to build on successes achieved by helping developing countries meet their water-related targets.


  • Executive Summary
  • I. Introduction
  • II. The Water Policy
  • III. Assessment of the Implementation of the Water Policy—Responsiveness
  • IV. Effectiveness and Efficiency of Water Sector Operations—Results
  • V. Key Lessons and Issues in the Water Policy and Related Operations
  • VI. Conclusions and Recommendations
  • Appendixes
  • Supplementary Appendixes

Water Policy and Related Operations