ADB's Water for All policy, adopted in 2001, recognizes the Asia and Pacific region's need to formulate and implement integrated, cross-sectoral approaches to water management.
The policy seeks to promote water as a socially vital economic good that needs increasingly careful management to sustain inclusive and equitable economic growth and reduce poverty and to advocate a participatory approach in meeting the challenges of water conservation and protection. It further makes a clear distinction between water as a service that must be delivered efficiently and as a resource that must be managed sustainably.
The policy was approved after a series of consultations with a wide spectrum of water stakeholders.
The policy has the following principal elements:
- Promote a national focus on water sector reform
- Foster the integrated management of water resources
- Improve and expand the delivery of water services
- Foster the conservation of water and increase system efficiencies
- Promote regional cooperation and increase the mutually beneficial use of shared water resources within and between countries
- Facilitate the exchange of water sector information and experience
- Improve governance and capacity building
These elements guide all ADB lending, policy dialogue, and technical assistance in the water sector.
To help catalyze the policy’s implementation, ADB set up the Cooperation Fund for the Water Sector in 2001, a multi-donor umbrella facility designed to promote effective water management policies and practices in the region, The fund financed a coherent program of activities designed to add value and increase synergy in ADB's water sector operations through better awareness, knowledge management, capacity building to support reforms, pilot demonstration, water partnerships, regional cooperation, monitoring, and coordination.
ADB's investments in water from 2001 cut across subsectors such as urban and rural water supply and sanitation, wastewater management, water resources development and management, flood and drought management, irrigation and drainage, wetlands and watershed protection, water quality enhancement, and hydropower generation. These investment projects targeted installation and/or rehabilitation of infrastructures as well as implementation of required reforms and capacity development interventions.
Grant resources from the fund focused on better understanding of sector issues, advancement of reform measures, and development of capacities within ADB and in its developing member countries. It also helped to establish regional networks and partnerships for knowledge sharing, capacity development, and leadership. The fund was closed in December 2010.
The Water Financing Program launched in March 2006 served as a vehicle to continue catalyzing the implementation of the policy. The first phase was completed during the period 2006-2010 and the second phase will be implemented from 2011 to 2020 guided by the Water Operational Plan 2011-2020. Its implementation has been supported by the Water Financing Partnership Facility.