Project to Improve Water Supply, Sanitation Services in Nepal

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will support a Nepal Government project to improve access to water and sanitation services in small towns throughout the country.

ADB's Board of Directors approved a $45.1 million grant for the Second Small Towns Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Project, which is expected to bring significant health and hygiene benefits to residents, particularly through the reduction of waterborne diseases. The Government of Nepal will provide $20.5 million to the project, while beneficiaries and local governments will contribute $6.1 million.

The project is expected to bring the country closer to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) for environmental sustainability.

While it appears Nepal is ahead of its MDG target of 73% water supply coverage by 2015, a progress report by the United Nations Development Programme noted that water availability is intermittent in many areas, many of the facilities are in need of repair, and many sources of water are contaminated – particularly in the southern plain area bordering India.

"There is a serious and urgent need to improve water supply and sanitation services in the small towns," said Norio Saito, Urban Development Specialist of ADB's South Asia Department. "This project aims to provide about 240,000 residents of small towns with not just access to water, but access to safe drinking water. In addition, about 270,000 people will have access to and use improved sanitation facilities by the end of the project."

In Nepal, small towns have been emerging due to internal migration caused by inadequate economic opportunities in rural areas, and also as a result of the recent conflict. Though significant efforts have been made to improve water supply and sanitation services, these efforts have been compromised by population and development pressures, lack of infrastructure, and, in some cases, poor water resource management.

The project will focus on about 20 small towns with an average population of 16,000 people. In these towns, it will support the development of additional water sources, construction of water treatment facilities and storage tanks, and rehabilitation of existing infrastructure. It will also provide private latrines, public toilets, sludge disposal facilities, wastewater management facilities (if justified) and storm water drainage.

The first Small Towns Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Project was approved by ADB's Board of Directors in 2000 and received a $35 million loan. The project benefited 29 small towns.