STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have formed a new partnership agreement to expand and speed up access to safe sanitation in Asia and the Pacific.

"Hundreds of millions of people suffer from poor sanitation and ADB and the Gates Foundation share a common vision for improving the health and dignity of all people in the region," said Amy Leung, Director of the Urban Development and Water Division in ADB's Southeast Asia department. "This partnership will allow us to support testing and pilot implementation of innovative solutions to deliver long lasting, quality sanitation services to Asia's urban poor."

Creation of a new Sanitation Financing Partnership Trust Fund will be announced during World Water Week, held in Stockholm, Sweden until 6 September. An investment of $15 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation into the Trust Fund will leverage more than $28 million in investments from ADB by 2017 to expand non-sewered sanitation and septage management solutions across Asia.

The Trust Fund will pilot innovations in sanitation and septage management, provide grant funds for innovations in ADB's sanitation projects, and support polices on septage management and sludge treatment to meet the needs of low-income urban communities who lack access to piped networks or safe wastewater disposal systems.

"Investing in solutions that help bring safe sanitation to the billions people who don't already have it leads to healthier people and stronger communities," said Brian Arbogast, Director of the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene team at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. "We are confident that this new partnership with ADB will help spur government officials, city authorities, companies and civil society to apply innovative thinking to the ongoing sanitation challenges in Asia."

Currently, around 1.7 billion people in Asia and the Pacific have no access to safe sanitation, and about 780 million still practice open defecation, resulting in pollution and exposure to diarrheal diseases, the second leading cause of infant and child deaths worldwide.

Sanitation problems are becoming increasingly acute in urban areas, with tens of millions of people moving into Asian cities every year. Many end up living in slums with little or no sanitation facilities. The region needs investments estimated at $71 billion to deliver improved sanitation to all its citizens.

The Trust Fund will be part of ADB's Water Financing Partnership Facility (WFPF), an instrument which pools finance and knowledge from development partners to support improvements in the sector. ADB has lent a total of $8.8 billion in water supply, sanitation, and wastewater management projects since 2006. Of that, $2.5 billion were investments that benefited from WFPF support.

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