ADB $300 Million to Fund Overhaul of Ageing Water, Sewer Systems in Colombo

News Release | 25 October 2012

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing $300 million in loans to overhaul the quality, coverage, and management of water and wastewater services in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo.

"Parts of Colombo's water supply distribution network are over 100 years old and some areas only get water for less than half the day, while the sewer network suffers from frequent collapses and blockages," said Mingyuan Fan, Urban Development Specialist in ADB's South Asia Department. "Our assistance will help the government make water and sanitation services higher quality, cost-effective, and sustainable."

The multitranche financing facility approved by the ADB Board of Directors will support a $400 million government investment program to improve water and sanitation in greater Colombo. ADB's first tranche loan of $84 million will focus on reducing water losses in Colombo, which are estimated to cost more than $13 million a year in foregone revenue.

The program aims to make water available 24 hours a day throughout greater Colombo by 2020, with a focus on improving services in underserved areas. It targets a reduction in nonrevenue water losses from nearly 50% in 2012 to about 20% by 2020, and seeks to ensure 100% sewer network coverage by 2020.

ADB's assistance will be used to repair or replace water transmission and distribution pipes and pumps, install high quality meters, and implement network mapping and leakage controls. It will fund new sewer connections and the construction of two wastewater treatment plants and support measures to strengthen the management and operations of the oversight agencies, the National Water Supply and Drainage Board and Colombo Municipal Council.

Providing round-the-clock water supply will especially benefit women, who will be freed up from daily water collection chores for more productive activities. It will also help improve public health, with waterborne diseases expected to be more than halved from current levels by 2024.

ADB is one of Sri Lanka's largest development partners, extending over half a billion US dollars for water supply and sanitation since 1986. It will provide the assistance in four tranches, using a mix of loans from ordinary capital resources and its concessional Asian Development Fund. The investment program will run for about 8 years, with an expected completion date of December 2020.