DHAKA, BANGLADESH — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a new $275 million loan for water efficiency improvements in Dhaka that will build on ongoing ADB projects to expand water supply in the fast-growing city.

“Dhaka, with ADB support, is now delivering quality, reliable water to millions of its inhabitants but water losses remain substantial and hinder the ability of the city to fully meet rapidly growing customer needs,” said Akira Matsunaga, economist in ADB’s South Asia Department. “This fresh assistance will help the Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority further strengthen its distribution network and improve its management capacity, resulting in lower nonrevenue water losses and an expansion of supplies to neglected low-income communities.”

ADB’s existing ongoing projects have improved distribution networks to provide high quality potable water to around 7 million people but physical water losses still remain a concern and undermine service delivery in many areas.  Dhaka’s demand for water is projected to rise from 2,144 million liters a day in 2015 to around 2,616 million liters a day in 2020, and although the supply authority is taking steps to expand capacity with ADB’s help, it will not be enough to meet projected needs without a substantial cut in ongoing losses. Climate change, including rising sea levels that could increase salinization of ground and surface water, is also expected to reduce available potable water.

The supply authority faces challenges in distribution to low-income communities, where many people are forced to use illegal suction pumps for water or to purchase costly supplies from private vendors. The fresh loan will be used to rehabilitate distribution pipelines and set up new district metered areas, with about 5,000 new and legalized connections established in low income communities, and 229,000 connections upgraded for households and communities. The new project is targeting 24-hour piped water supplies to an additional 6.5 million people in the new district metered areas by 2022, with nonrevenue water losses cut to below 10%.

A range of actions will be taken to boost the capacity of staff to manage and operate the network effectively, including providing training for around 700 staff, with 30% of them women. Assistance will also be given to help the supply authority prepare an operational and financial improvement plan and to increase public awareness on water conservation.

The new project will run for over 5 years with an expected completion date of 30 June, 2021. Along with ADB’s loan, the government will provide counterpart support of $133 million equivalent.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB in December 2016 will mark 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2015, ADB assistance totaled $27.2 billion, including cofinancing of $10.7 billion.

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