Launch of a new partnership between UN-HABITAT and the Asian Development Bank
Johannesburg, 31 August 2002:
A letter of intent was signed today between UN-HABITAT and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) that commits ADB to providing $5 million in grant and $500 million in fast track credit to UN-HABITAT's Water for Asian Cities Programme.
The Government of the Netherlands will provide $2.8 million while other donors such as the Swedish Development Agency are also considering supporting the programme. The total outlay of the programme is $10 million as grant in aid and $500 million in credit.
"The partnership between the ADB and UN-HABITAT will bring benefits to the region and especially to the urban poor who lack essential basic services like water," said Mrs. Anna Tibaiuka, Execuitve Director of UN-HABITAT. "As the premier development finance agency, ADB will provide its experience with sectoral and multi-sectoral investment while UN-HABITAT will provide its experience in the management of water for cities."
Mr. Tadao Chino, President of the ADB pointed out that the $500 million fast track credit line was part of ADB's new commitment to poverty alleviation. "All too often, good projects that can genuinely help alleviate the problems of the poor fail because of the inability of the banking sector to respond quickly enough," said Mr. Chino. "It is my hope that the partnership between the ADB and UN-HABITAT will overcome these bottle-necks and provide a rapid response mechanism to help municipalities to help the poor."
At the launch of the partnership, Hon. A.M.A. van Ardenne-Van der Hoeven, Minister for International Development Cooperation of the Government of Netherlands also emphasised the need for increased investment in the urban water sector, stating that her government was strongly committed to the project.
Hon. Wang Guangtao, the Chinese Minister of Construction, congratulated UN-HABITAT and ADB on the launch of their partnership stating that there was an urgent need to improve the management of water in many cities in China.
Finally, in his speech, Hon. Earl Blumenauer, Member of United States Congress, pledged to "make the United States a partner in these goals".
Note to the Editor:
The Water for Asian Cities works to build partnerships and capacity within city municipalities. The central emphasis of the Water for Asian Cities Programme will be on capacity building in the countries and cities of the region with a view to preparing pro-poor investments in the water and sanitation sector.
The programme will also encourage up-scaling of good practices and community based management of water and sanitation facilities. Water is one of the five priority issues that are being discussed at WSSD. UN figures indicate that 1.1 billion people around the world lack access to safe drinking water and over 2.4 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation. It is estimated that more than 2.2 million people in developing countries, most of them children, die each year from diseases associated with lack of access to safe drinking water. And a large proportion of people in developing countries suffer from diseases caused either directly or indirectly by the use of contaminated water.
Asian cities are facing a major challenge in the water and sanitation sector. Of the world's population that lives without clean water, it is estimated that about two thirds live in Asia. If the world is to meet the Millennium Declaration Goal of halving the population of poor people without access to basic services like water by 2015, at least a billion people in Asia will need to be given access to safe water.
Improving access to water and sanitation of the poor is also critical if the lives of 100 million slum dwellers are to be improved by 2020.
UN-HABITAT is the lead agency within the UN system responsible for sustainable urbanization. Its main responsibility is to implement the Habitat Agenda that is committed to improving the living environment through better urban management.
For further information, please contact: Sharad Shankardass, Spokesperson, or Zahra Hassan, Press & Media Relations, UN-HABITAT, Box 30030, Nairobi, Kenya; Tel: 254 2 623151/623153; Fax; 254 2 624060; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: www.unchs.org or Mobile in Johannesburg: 27-82-858-1775.