The FINANCIAL — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will manage a regional technical assistance project to help improve the delivery of water and sanitation services in Asia.
According to ADB, the Partnership for Good Governance and Knowledge on Urban Water Management project aims to boost the capacity of utilities to manage and provide quality services. It is being financed with a US$500,000 grant from the Republic of Korea’s e-Asia and Knowledge Partnership Fund, which is administered by ADB, and a further $100,000 in the form of training, venue and equipment from the Korea Water Resources Corporation (K-water).
The rapid growth in Asia’s urban population has led to increased demand for safe drinking water and basic sanitation, which the region is struggling to meet. Despite reforms and development programs in many countries, service coverage remains patchy, water losses are high, the financial performance of many utilities is weak, and customer relations are poor.
“Achieving the Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water or basic sanitation by 2015 is getting more challenging in Asia’s urban areas,” said Kyeong-Ae Choe, Principal Urban Development Specialist, in ADB’s South Asia Department.
At the same time, past technical assistance to build up the capacity of utilities to deliver better services has often fallen short of the desired goal. Typically, the training has provided skills and knowledge to individual staff which has not fully benefited, or been replicated, throughout the targeted utility.
The new technical assistance seeks to address the problem by developing a training program designed to build up capacity and skills right across an organization. Two water and sanitation operators from separate South Asian cities – where the need for improved services is considered to be greatest – will be chosen for the project. K-water, which has extensive experience in coaching water and sanitation staff, will develop and carry out the program, with the aim of replicating it at other utilities in future.
"As part of the training, the participants will prepare new business and action plans, which will be checked for evidence of improvements on existing plans," said Dr. Choe. "The advantage of the program is that it is holistic, involving top policy decision makers down to technical managers."
The Republic of Korea e-Asia and Knowledge Partnership Fund, established in June 2006 with $20 million from the Government of Korea, seeks to support developing countries in Asia by sharing knowledge and information that helps them achieve the Millennium Development Goals.