Manila, Philippines (BBN) – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is extending a $55 million loan to improve water management in Bangladesh.

The fund will help cut rural poverty, improve community involvement, and address the threat posed by severe floods and other climate change-related events, the ADB said on Monday.

The loan from ADB’s concessional Asian Development Fund will be used to finance 230 subprojects in the areas of flood management, drainage, water conservation, and irrigation.

“Effective water management and equitable access to water are critical for the livelihoods of the rural poor and the project will help boost income opportunities for food crop production, strengthen household food security, improve access to water for the poor, and reduce the risk of flooding,” Water Resource Management Specialist, in ADB’s South Asia department Yasmin Siddiqi said in a statement.

About 1.7 million people are expected to directly benefit from the project, and special attention will be given to the needs of vulnerable groups, including women, with 30 percent of all management committee posts in the water management cooperative associations to be reserved for females, according to the ADB’s estimation.
Around 80 percent of Bangladeshis live in rural areas, where poverty levels reach as high as 53 percent and where over two-thirds of the population is landless.

“With its flat topography and location at the confluence of three major rivers, the country is highly prone to severe flooding during heavy monsoon rains, cyclones and tidal surges,” the ADB said, adding that these physical pressures on the country’s limited land base have been aggravated by weak management of water facilities, poor maintenance, limited community participation and weak service delivery.

ADB’s 32-year loan – with an eight-year grace period carrying a 1 percent interest charge and 1.5 percent for the balance of the term – makes up 51.3 percent of the total project cost of $107.3 million, an ADB press statement said.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development will extend a $22 million loan, administered by ADB, while the government of Bangladesh and project beneficiaries will make contributions equivalent to $30.3 million.

The Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives will be executing agency for the project which is due for completion in December 2017.

BBN/SS/SI/AD-07September09-6:27 pm (BST)