ADB seeks more funds to assist 1.5b poor in Asia

Kathmandu, March 21:

Asian Development Bank (ADB) officials and government representatives from the international donor community and selected recipient countries convened in Manila on March 13-14 to discuss the replenishment of the Asian Development Fund (ADF), an endowment used to provide grants and low-interest loa-ns to countries with low per capita incomes and limited debt-repayment capacity.

“We are all aware that dire poverty persists in the region despite its dynam-ism. We also know that the current pace of growth is not enough for ADF countries to eliminate poverty even by 2020. They cannot accelerate growth or poverty reduction on their own.

Moreover, they will not achieve the non-income Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 unless the flow of Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Asia and the Pacific is increased,” ADB president Haruhiko Kuroda said in his opening statement.

Despite the impressive progress made by Asia-Pacific nations over the past decade in fostering economic growth, 1.5 billion people in the region still live on less than $2-a-day.

Since 2001, ADF has provided more than $1 billion-a-year for programmes that help poor families escape poverty. Over the past seven years, ADF has helped educate millions of children and helped keep them healthy, by supporting the construction of 38,000 schools and 6,700 health facilities, states a press release. During the same period of time, ADF has supported the construction of 42,000-km of road-more than the circumference of earth-linking isolated and impoverished communities to regional and global markets.

Between 2001 and 2008, ADF has also provided over one million people with clean water connections, and provided 820,000 hou-seholds with new energy connections. The recent ADF meeting is the third in a series of meetings to negotiate replenishment of the Fund, discuss means of improving its effectiveness.