ADB in South Asia

ADB works with 6 developing member countries to help build resilience against economic shocks, deliver sustainable services, and promote inclusive and sustainable growth.

ADB's Work in South Asia

While average economic growth across South Asia was robust in 2022, the performance of individual economies was mixed. ADB forecasts the region will grow strongly in 2023 and 2024, but the outlook again varies substantially between countries. India’s growth, which will drive the region's, is expected to moderate slightly in 2023 before rising again. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s economy—grappling with a debt and balance of payments crisis—is expected to shrink further before rebounding modestly in 2024.

Inflation was high across the region in 2022, reaching double digits in some countries, as food prices soared following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As a result, already alarming levels of food insecurity worsened in some parts of South Asia. Inflation is expected to remain high in South Asia in 2023 before falling in 2024, when a sharp reduction is expected in Sri Lanka. ADB is providing at least $14 billion over 2022-2025 to ease the food crisis in Asia and the Pacific.

ADB committed a total of $5.1 billion for South Asia in 2022, including sovereign financing of $4 billion and $1.1 billion for nonsovereign support to the private sector. The bank invested widely to strengthen food security, expand social protection and financial inclusion, create more resilient and equitable education systems, and advance the transition to clean energy. It also provided support to increase opportunities for women in business and to tackle gender-based violence.

Addressing Poverty

During 2022, ADB made new commitments for emergency assistance, access to health services, social protection, and educational reform to help tackle poverty and inequalities in South Asia.

ADB provided $200 million to alleviate the food security crisis in Sri Lanka. The emergency assistance will ensure access to food and underpin livelihoods for poor and vulnerable people, especially women and children. Temporary cash assistance reached over 4 million beneficiaries, while other initiatives increased food production and offset rising agricultural costs.

To protect Bangladesh’s vulnerable communities in the wake of COVID-19, ADB provided a $250 million policy based loan—matching its 2021 commitment—to reinforce social protection and financial inclusion reforms. ADB also committed $71.4 million in additional emergency assistance to improve living conditions for displaced people from Myanmar sheltered in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district. The project includes a $41.4 million Asian Development Fund grant to expand and upgrade health facilities and improve water supply and sanitation.

In Nepal, ADB signed a $200 million loan and provided technical assistance to support the government's ambitious $3.6 billion education reform program. The program, which will reduce inequities in education and accelerate recovery from COVID-related learning losses, is expected to benefit about 8.1 million schoolchildren.

By the Numbers: 2022 Operations

$5.1 billion


$6.3 billion


$1.6 billion


Source: ADB Annual Report 2022

Gender Equality

Gender Equality in South Asia

ADB invested in 2022 to scale up the protection of South Asia’s women and children, create financial pathways for women entrepreneurs, and bolster approaches to gender equality and social inclusion.

In Nepal, ADB provided a $12 million grant as well as technical assistance to support government efforts to address gender-based violence. The project will encourage reporting and hasten responses to gender-based violence by establishing safe, confidential, and respectful environments within police stations. It will also establish rehabilitation centers and increase awareness on prevention of gender-based violence and services available.

ADB committed a $7.5 million grant and provided technical assistance for its first holistic gender equality project in Maldives. The project will strengthen the capacity of the social service system for aged care and early childcare, and establish partnerships to support prevention of gender-based and domestic violence.

In Bangladesh, ADB committed a $200 million loan to expand access to finance for unbanked and underbanked microenterprises. By 2028, the project aims to have supported loans for at least 80,000 women-led microenterprises. ADB also published a diagnostic assessing how mobile financial services in Bangladesh are improving inclusion for women and vulnerable groups.

Climate Change

Climate Change in South Asia

South Asia's clean energy transition, building climate resilience along waterways, and decarbonization in high emitting sectors were key drivers of ADB investments in 2022.

The bank provided an $18.3 million financing package for the construction, and associated capacity building, of the first utility-scale solar power plant in Bhutan. The plant is an early step toward diversifying Bhutan’s hydropower dominated, climate vulnerable power generation.

In Bangladesh, two commitments will strengthen climate and disaster resilience along waterways and in coastal towns. A $157 million loan will continue a flood and erosion program, financing riverbank protection, flood embankments, community-based disaster management units. Meanwhile, a $246 million loan will fund improved municipal infrastructure—such as cyclone shelters, roads, and stormwater drainage—as well as livelihood and insurance initiatives, across 22 coastal towns.

In broader climate work, ADB conducted a study for the Government of India on options for decarbonizing the country’s power sector. ADB also published guidebooks to engage India’s power utilities in the adoption and deployment of rooftop solar systems.

Livable Cities

Improving urban livability in South Asia’s rapidly growing cities requires significant investment in essential services, especially in water supply and transport.

In 2022, ADB committed $140 million for environmentally sustainable water infrastructure and institutional development in Bangladesh’s fast-growing capital Dhaka. The ongoing project is developing the Meghna River as a sustainable water source.

Also in Dhaka, ADB provided transaction advisory services that led to the signing of a $260 million public–private partnership agreement to develop a new expressway. The 13.5km, four-lane expressway will provide an alternative and less-congested gateway to and from central Dhaka.

In India’s Chennai, ADB committed $350 million to develop three new rail lines connecting the metropolitan center to expanded residential areas. The project will expand access to schools, health facilities, and workplaces, improve air quality, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. An associated study will help the Government of India explore possibilities for transit-oriented development and land value capture.

Rural Development and Food Security

Modernizing agriculture and improving farming communities’ connections to economic centers are central to achieving food security and improving the quality of rural life in South Asia.

To enhance longer-term food security in Nepal, ADB provided $70 million in financing in 2022 to improve climate resilience in the horticulture sector. The project will boost the productivity of over 30,000 farming households in five provinces, mainly through the climate-resilient development of around 10,000 hectares of fruit and nut orchards.

To ramp up food production in India, ADB provided a nonsovereign loan of $30 million to a fertilizer manufacturer. The investment supports capital expenditure, training, and research and development for fertilizers that increase agricultural productivity, reduce contamination, and improve climate resilience.

ADB also provided a $350 million loan to support the upgrading of Maharashtra’s core road network. This will expand off-farm income opportunities for remote and rural populations while improving access to markets, health facilities, and social services.

In other support to rural development in India, ADB committed a $96.3 million loan to rehabilitate 187 water supply schemes in Himachal Pradesh. The project will ultimately deliver uninterrupted potable water—instead of the current 6–8 hours per day—to about 370,000 rural residents.

Strengthening Governance

In 2022, ADB supported institutional reforms to guide recovery, advance climate resilience, improve tax administration, and enhance logistics and trade in South Asia.

In Bhutan, ADB provided a $37.4 million policy-based loan as well as technical assistance to build institutional capacity for a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will support a national adaptation plan, a climate-resilient development strategy, and green financing, as well as customs, tourism, and public finance reforms. ADB also completed an assessment of Bhutan’s tax administration system that will help mobilize additional tax resources, improve compliance, and reduce leakages and transaction costs.

In India, ADB committed $250 million in policy-based lending toward implementing a comprehensive policy framework to enhance logistics efficiency. The program aims to strengthen institutional capacity for developing infrastructure in multimodal logistics and incentivize private sector investment.

Regional Cooperation

ADB’s 2022 investments in South Asia’s regional development had a strong focus on long-term trade facilitation and transport connectivity.

In Bangladesh, ADB provided $143 million for a program to increase trade volumes and improve the efficiency, predictability, and security of cross-border trade. Supported reforms will make Bangladesh’s customs framework compliant with international standards and improve cargo clearance processes.

ADB funded a study for the Government of India on developing a North East Economic Corridor. The resulting paper prioritized border points, identified gaps hindering trade, and is informing the preparation of ADB urban, transport, tourism, and infrastructure projects.

Complementing this knowledge work, ADB committed $300 million to upgrade 313 kilometers of highways and major roads in the northeast state of Assam. The project is expected to reduce travel times and operating costs for transport and freight operations to South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation corridors and trade centers.

ADB committed its first private sector infrastructure financing transaction in Maldives in 2022—a $9.1 million nonsovereign loan to a telecommunications provider. The investment will expand mobile and internet coverage by upgrading network capacity, expanding data centers, and enhancing mobile services.


Kenichi Yokoyama
Kenichi Yokoyama

Director General


South Asia Department (SARD)

6 ADB Avenue, Mandaluyong City 1550, Metro Manila, Philippines

Tel +63 2 6324444
Fax +63 2 6362444

Bangladesh Resident Mission (BRM)

Plot E-31, Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Dhaka 1207, Bangladesh GPO Box No. 2100

Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Sunday to Thursday)

Bhutan Resident Mission (BHRM)

2nd Floor, Royal Textile Academy Building, Norzin Lam, Chhubachhu, Thimphu - 11001

Office Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Monday to Friday)

India Resident Mission (INRM)

4 San Martin Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110021 India

Office Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Monday to Friday)

South Asia Department (SARD)

6 ADB Avenue, Mandaluyong City 1550, Metro Manila, Philippines

Tel +63 2 6324444
Fax +63 2 6362444

Nepal Resident Mission (NRM)

Metro Park Building, Lazimpat, Ward No. 2, P.O. Box 5017, Kathmandu, Nepal

Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Monday to Friday)

Sri Lanka Resident Mission (SLRM)

23, Independence Avenue Colombo 7, Sri Lanka

Office Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Monday to Friday)

Tel +94 11 4455455 / 2674499
Fax +94 11 4455499 / 11-2674488