MANILA, PHILIPPINES (24 November 2023) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $170 million loan to support the modernization of water supply services in the city of Kochi in Kerala, India, helping improve the quality of urban life and build climate resilience.

Kochi, the commercial capital of the state of Kerala, is one of India’s fastest-growing urban areas. While nearly all its population is covered by water services, the availability is intermittent between 5–24 hours a day, depending on the location. Tanker trucks carrying water supply is a common sighting in areas where water pressure is low, and supply is inadequate. 

“Kerala has experienced severe dry spells and droughts, with the latest and most distressing one in 2016 that affected the availability of water. As climate projections point to varying frequency of rainfall and rising temperature, provision of reliable and safe water services is a critical climate adaptation strategy,” said Senior Urban Development Specialist Hikaru Shoji. “Access to quality water is a prerequisite for inclusive development as it affects the health and well-being of the population, especially in disadvantaged communities. Women, who are usually responsible for domestic work and care of family members, are directly affected by poor water access.”

The project will rehabilitate and upgrade five existing water treatment plants that have a cumulative production capacity of 325 million liters per day (MLD), as well as build a new plant with 190 MLD capacity. To reduce loss of treated water during distribution, around 700 kilometers of pipes will be replaced and a real-time monitoring system will be introduced. About 146,000 water meters will be replaced with high-quality and reliable meters.

An innovative feature of the project is to introduce sound preventive maintenance and asset management practices through a long-term performance-based contract for the operation and maintenance of the water distribution infrastructure, as well as rehabilitation and upgrading activities. The project will also improve the capacity of the service provider, including through training to improve female employment in the construction, operation, and maintenance of water supply systems.

To strengthen Kerala Water Authority’s (KWA) institutional capacity, the project will support the introduction of a mobile app for improved billing and collection, the development of a geographic information system-based maintenance management system, and the upgrading of its laboratory information system. Technical and managerial KWA staff will also be trained on various aspects of water supply services.

The project will implement awareness-raising activities among community-based organizations (with 50% women participation) and school children to help improve their knowledge on household supply, water audits, water quality, and hygiene, including menstrual hygiene and waterborne diseases. 

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region. 

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