Manila, Philippines (BBN)- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will support a Nepal Government project to improve access to water and sanitation services in small towns throughout the country.

ADB’s Board of Directors has approved a $45.1 million grant for the Second Small Towns Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Project, which is expected to bring significant health and hygiene benefits to residents, particularly through the reduction of waterborne diseases.

The Nepal government will provide $20.5 million to the project, while beneficiaries and local governments will contribute $6.1 million, the ABD said, adding that the project is expected to bring the country closer to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) for environmental sustainability.

While it appears Nepal is ahead of its MDG target of 73% water supply coverage by 2015, a progress report by the United Nations Development Program noted that water availability is intermittent in many areas, many of the facilities are in need of repair, and many sources of water are contaminated – particularly in the southern plain area bordering India.

In Nepal, small towns have been emerging due to internal migration caused by inadequate economic opportunities in rural areas, and also as a result of the recent conflict.

Though significant efforts have been made to improve water supply and sanitation services, these efforts have been compromised by population and development pressures, lack of infrastructure, and, in some cases, poor water resource management.

The first Small Towns Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Project was approved by ADB’s Board of Directors in 2000 and received a $35 million loan. The project benefited 29 small towns.

BBN/SS/SI/AD-19September09-2:28 pm (BST)