ADF support is key for poor countries

Kathmandu, May 3:

“ADF support is a major source of assistance for countries like Nepal that are in urgent need of resources to help their citizens,” said finance secretary Vidyadhar Mallik addressing the ADB’s 41st annual meeting of the Board of Governors in Madrid.

“We appreciate the generosity of the international donor community in significantly increasing Asian Development Fund (ADF) resources and successfully completing ADF negotiations,” he added. ADF negotiations concluded in the Spanish capital on the eve of Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) 41st annual meeting of the Board of Governors in Madrid.

The fund will provide support to further enhance regional cooperation and integration in the Asia and Pacific region. It will continue to support the agriculture sector through the funding of irrigation systems, rural roads and rural finance mechanisms.

“With child malnutrition still widespread in Asia and the global food crisis threatening to reverse the gains nations have achieved in reducing pov-erty, support for rural infrastructure and rural finance is critically important,” ADB president Haruhiko Kuroda said, adding, that a significant proportion of future ADF resources is also expected to fund education initiatives.

“Education is the key to youth, advancement and nations’ development and an investment today pays off many-fold in the future,” Kuroda added. The fund will also provide support for climate change mitigation and other environmental measures.

The last replenishment of the ADF, which covered 2005 to 2008, totaled $7 billion, states a press release.

The ADB has secured $11.3 billion for the next four-year phase of its concessional development fu-nd to fight poverty in Asia and Pacific region, a significant jump of over 60 per cent from previous period.

The generous contribution of donor nations will help developing Asia-Pacific countries meet Millennium Development Goal targets and bring better opportunities and a brighter future to people living in the region’s poorest nations, Kuroda said.

The ADF provides grants and low-interest loans to the Asia and Pacific’s poorest countries, which are home to some 400 million people living on less than $2-a-day. The new ADF will cover the period of 2009-2012.

Roads, clean water and sanitation, electricity networks and other essential infrastructure that

improve the lives of the impoverished and accelerate growth will continue to be a cornerstone of ADF support.