MANILA, PHILIPPINES (16 November 2022) — Managing water resources efficiently and extending quality services in irrigation, water supply, sanitation, and wastewater treatment are  critical to the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) developing member countries (DMCs), especially the water-stressed ones, says an independent evaluation report released recently.

The evaluation assessed ADB's engagement in the water sector from 2011 to 2021, as guided by its 2001 Water Policy and the Water Operational Plan, 2011–2020.

“There is a need for greater focus on increasing the efficiency and productivity of the use of water, especially in agriculture, which consumes most of it,” said Independent Evaluation Department (IED) Director General Emmanuel Jimenez. “Greater attention is also needed to the uses of water for improved ecological services, social equity, and environmental sustainability.”

The evaluation notes that ADB contributed to improving access to clean water supply, sanitation, and irrigation services in Asia and the Pacific. The evaluation also found that better due diligence, pre-project diagnostics and ownership from key stakeholders have contributed to improved performance in irrigation projects. However, its impact has been modest in treating wastewater, supporting rural water supply and sanitation, and promoting private sector investment.

“Given the large investment needs of the sector, ADB should undertake deliberate actions to facilitate and mobilize greater private finance to address water challenges in Asia and the Pacific,” said ADB Senior Evaluation Specialist Srinivasan Palle Venkata.

The report proposes an update of ADB’s existing policy and operational plan for ADB to manage the water challenges in the region. It notes significant changes impacting the sector since 2001, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing uncertainty in water availability because of climate change, adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, increasing water demand, continuing rapid urbanization, and emergence of important global agreements.

The evaluation has identified key areas for improvement, including organizational change in ADB; promotion of national and subnational policy and institutional reforms for more efficient and productive use of water; resilience of DMCs on water-related climate change impacts; and more focus on knowledge generation and sharing, innovation, and cross-sector interventions for the integrated management of water resources.

About Independent Evaluation at ADB

ADB's Independent Evaluation, reporting to the Board of Directors through the Development Effectiveness Committee, contributes to development effectiveness by providing feedback on ADB's policies, strategies, operations, and special concerns in Asia and the Pacific.

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