The United Nations programme dealing with human settlements and the problems of rapid urbanization has launched a partnership with the Asian Development Bank (ABD) to help provide loans for safe drinking water and sanitation projects in densely populated areas throughout Asia.
The three-phase programme aims to build the capacity of Asian cities to secure and manage pro-poor investments and to help the region meet the 2000 Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of people without safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015, according to the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT).
Announcing the initiative today from Osaka, Japan, where the third World Water Forum - the largest-ever meeting convened to discuss solutions to the global water crisis - is underway, UN-HABITAT Executive Director Anna Tibaijuka said that matching both agencies' financing, sectoral and regional expertise will ensure a "highly effective partnership" for improved on-the-ground water management in Asian cities.
Such collaboration and teamwork between international agency's appears all the more important because UN-HABITAT estimates that in order to reach the Millennium Goals, 675 million people in Asia's cities need access to sanitation and 619 million need access to safe water. In that regard, an outgrowth of the programme will be an Asian Ministerial Forum for Water and Sanitation, which will meet annually to provide policy insight and monitor progress.
The programme envisages a pipeline of $10 million in grants from the ADB and UN-HABITAT for the first two phases, and $500 million in ADB loans for water and sanitation projects in cities across Asia over the next five years. Additional funding will be provided by the Government of the Netherlands. Programme investments include a focus on mobilization of financial resources, provision of loans to participating countries, implementation projects and continuing water management policy reform.