Manila, Philippines (BBN)-An estimated 733 million people in the Asia and Pacific region still live on less than $1.25 a day, according to a report of Asian Development Bank.

The gap between rich and poor in the region is also widening, said the ADB’s 2013 Annual Report, released ahead of its 47th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors to be held on May 2 to 5 in Astana of Kazakhstan.

The report also said that the ADB approved $21.02 billion in financing operations in the regions last year.

The substantial lending volume reflects the Asia and Pacific region’s continued need for development assistance, despite impressive growth and poverty reduction efforts in recent years.

Of the financing total, $14.375 billion came from ADB’s ordinary capital resources and Special Funds, and $6.648 billion from cofinancing partners.

With much of the region vulnerable to climate change and natural hazards, the theme of the report is environmentally sustainable growth. It highlights ADB’s work to develop sustainable infrastructure, manage critical ecosystems, respond to the effects of climate change, and support renewable electricity generation.

In 2013, ADB’s clean energy investments reached $2.35 billion.

After an earthquake and then Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) struck the Philippines in late 2013, claiming more than 6,000 lives, ADB provided nearly $900 million in assistance for immediate recovery efforts and long-term work to rebuild infrastructure like schools and clinics, and restore sources of income in rural communities.

Other significant achievements in 2013 include: approval of country partnership strategies for India, the Kyrgyz Republic, Nepal, and Thailand and investment of $2 billion for water sector projects.

The ADB also invest $644 million in education;  approval of two electricity generation projects totaling $1.07 billion in Pakistan; $575 million in support for economic and social reforms and debt relief in Myanmar; and up to $275 million in loans to private companies in the People’s Republic of China to facilitate leases for “clean” buses.

In addition, ADB continued to boost its efficiency and effectiveness in 2013, introducing initiatives to improve business processes, cut waste, fight corruption, streamline procurement, strengthen staff skills, and enhance its presence in developing member countries.

BBN/ANS/AD/21Apr14-5:40pm (BST)