Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Haruhiko Kuroda and Kiribati Finance Minister Tom Murdoch have signed grant and loan agreements totaling $21.5 million for the South Tarawa Sanitation Improvement Sector Project at the ADB's 45th Annual Meeting being held in Manila.

ADB is providing a loan of $7.6 million from the Asian Development Fund (ADF) while the Government of Australia is providing $14.0 million in grant cofinancing for the Project.

"ADB's assistance will help Kiribati efforts to meet Millennium Development Goal targets in improving access to sanitation, which will lead to better health outcomes" said President Kuroda. "The project will support the country's efforts to improve the quality and coverage of sanitation services for South Tarawa's urban residents."

The Project is the largest water and sanitation sector activity to date to be supported by ADB in Kiribati. It will rehabilitate sewerage networks, help foster better hygiene and sanitation practices at the household level, and improve the performance of South Tarawa's public utility service provider.

"The Australian Government, through AusAID, is pleased to be working in partnership with the ADB and the Government of Kiribati to increase access to safe water and sanitation on South Tarawa. It is a partnership that will help to achieve significant public health outcomes for Kiribati" said Brett Aldam, Australia's High Commissioner to Kiribati.

As a low-lying atoll, South Tarawa is also highly vulnerable to climate change. The project will fund investments to rehabilitate saltwater flush systems, which will help to conserve and protect scarce groundwater resources from overuse and pollution.

Kiribati joined ADB in 1974. Cumulative lending to the country stands at $34.7 million for eight loans. ADB has approved technical assistance grants to Kiribati totaling $13.9 million.

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