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Sunday, 16 March 2014

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ADB, Gates Foundation to improve urban services

MANILA, Philippines: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are bringing together the governments of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka to create a South Asia Urban Knowledge to help improve urban services, such as sanitation, in South Asia.

The hub, one of three initiatives funded by the Sanitation Financing Partnership Trust Fund, was set up by the ADB and the Gates Foundation in late 2013, to bring managers, policy makers, and public and private sector experts together to discuss issues and solutions.

Sanitation is a pressing issue in the region and a target likely to be missed by the expiration of the Millennium Development Goals next year.

"We will continue to work with the governments in the Asia-Pacific region to make countries open-defecation free and complement their efforts by providing options for small-scale sanitation systems in urban and rural communities," said Director of the Urban Development and Water Division in ADB's Southeast Asia Department, Amy Leung.

About 1.7 billion people in Asia and the Pacific still lack access to improved sanitation, 780 million people still practise open defecation, and around 80% of waste water is discharged without treatment.

The ADB and the Gates Foundation have also set aside $2 million from the trust fund to top-up ADB's Facility for Pilot and Demonstration Activities that provides $50,000 grants to test innovative non-networked sanitation and septage management policies, technologies, and business models that can be scaled-up across the Asia-Pacific region.

In addition, the partnership will provide a $1.6 million grant to pilot innovations in sanitation and septage management in Bangladesh as part of a planned ADB loan for coastal towns infrastructure improvement.

ADB is leveraging a $15 million contribution from the Gates Foundation to finance more than $28 million in non-sewered sanitation and septage management projects across the region in the next five years.

"Open defecation and inadequate toilets, sewers, and waste water treatment systems lead to massive amounts of untreated human waste in the environment, harming the health and well-being of children," said Director of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene team at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Brian Arbogast.

"We are delighted to have new partners such as the ADB applying creative thinking to more effectively managing human waste to improve people's lives," he said.

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