FRANKFURT, GERMANY – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) met the bulk of its operational targets in 2015, with most projects completed within budget, while financing hit new record highs over the year, said an ADB performance review released today.

“As this report demonstrates, ADB’s operations have consistently delivered results that have benefitted millions of people in Asia and the Pacific,” said Indu Bhushan, Director General of ADB’s Strategy and Policy Department. “However, we cannot rest on our laurels. ADB will continue to undertake reforms to meet its remaining challenges and rise to new ones in order to better meet the needs of our developing member countries.” 

The Development Effectiveness Review (DEfR) 2015 Report—ADB’s ninth annual corporate performance assessment—shows that it met targeted results for 13 of 17 performance indicators, with about 80% of sovereign projects carried out within their original budgets over the review period. Among the achievements were the building or upgrading of 10,000 kilometers of roads, and the installation of 400 megawatts of power generation, half of it from renewable energy sources. Water, sanitation, and irrigation projects also benefitted millions of households, while upgraded school facilities are being used by almost 7 million students. 

ADB’s stepped-up efforts to support gender mainstreaming bore fruit with gender targets in completed sovereign operations meeting the 70% level for the first time in 2013-2015. Meanwhile, ADB helped its developing member countries develop 20 public-private partnership projects– an all-time high. 

Financing approvals for new operations also reached a record high of $16.3 billion in 2015, up 20% from 2014, while both disbursements and cofinancing in 2015 marked another annual record. In addition, ADB shortened its processing time for both sovereign and non-sovereign operations and reduced internal administrative expenses by more than 10% per $1 million disbursed. 

However a number of performance concerns remain, with the overall success rates for operations at 72%, still below the 80% target level. Operational efficiency was weighed down by implementation delays, which averaged almost 2 years and affected 90% of sovereign projects. There was a decline in the disbursement ratio for sovereign projects, which was affected by low project readiness and slow procurement, among other reasons. In terms of organizational effectiveness, the share of women among international staff fell from 34.5% in 2014 to 33.8% in 2015, while the overall staff engagement level also declined in 2015. 

To tackle these obstacles, ADB has been implementing its Strategy 2020 midterm review action plan since 2014, which includes 10-point procurement actions to speed up procurement, and faster approvals for small nonsovereign transactions. In December 2015 ADB approved new reforms to boost project readiness, cut start-up and completion delays, and raise efficiency and overall success ratings. The measures include the encouragement of advance contracting and retroactive financing for contracts that are signed before loans are approved. ADB has also simplified review requirements to quicken the pace of its sovereign project disbursements and is taking steps to further expand cofinancing. In addition, efforts are being made to raise women’s representation among international staff, improve staff perception, and optimize human resources.

Moving forward, ADB will—in line with the midterm review of its long-term strategic framework, Strategy 2020—continue to streamline its business processes and decentralize decision making to operational departments and resident missions to support its drive to deliver better and faster results for developing member countries. 

To complement the DEfR, the 2015 edition of the Together We Deliver report was also launched recently. Together We Deliver shares life-changing stories of individuals, families, and communities that have benefited from ADB-supported operations. It also illustrates some of the lessons ADB has learned and experiences it has gained working with its developing member countries, development partners, civil society and the private sector.

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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