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

The hub, one of three initiatives funded by the Sanitation Financing Partnership Trust Fund established by ADB and the Gates Foundation in late 2013, is designed 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 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 Amy Leung, Director of the Urban Development and Water Division in ADB’s Southeast Asia Department.  
About 1.7 billion people in Asia and the Pacific still lack access to improved sanitation, 780 million people still practice open defecation, and around 80% of wastewater is discharged without treatment.

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.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region.

BBN/SSR/AD-14Mar14-9:54 am (BST)