Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a loan package totaling $200 million to strengthen urban infrastructure, service delivery, and governance in Bangladesh's municipalities.
"Specifically, the additional financing for the third project, bringing total ADB financing up to $325 million, will contribute to building or improving 600 kilometers (km) of roads and 300 km of drains, and install or upgrade 180 km of pipes for water supply with 60,000 metered household connections," said an ADB media release.
It said slum improvement work will be undertaken in all project towns that have slums while sludge management facilities will be built in 14 project towns and solid waste sites built or improved in 20.
This work will focus on drawing up plans to tackle poverty reduction, gender issues, slum improvement, community participation, and improving municipal financial management by completing the ongoing work on computerisation of tax records and billing systems. The implementation period for the project is August 2017 to June 2021.
"The country's pourashavas (municipalities) still need significant investment to not only improve service delivery and the urban environment but also strengthen resilience to climate change," said ADB Urban Development Specialist Alexandra Vogl.
The media release said Bangladesh's economy has been growing at a healthy pace, averaging 6.6 percent gross domestic product growth in 2014-2016, but the government faces the challenge of achieving sustainable and inclusive growth in the face of rapid urbanisation.
For example, in 2015, only 32 percent of the urban population had a piped water supply and 58 percent access to improved sanitation. Other challenges included fecal sludge management and underdeveloped or badly maintained drainage.
These issues are more acute in pourashavas because of inadequate governance, lack of community participation, and capacity constraints.
Another critical issue facing Bangladesh is climate change, as the country faces rising temperatures; more frequent and intense rainfalls, storms, and flooding; and danger to coasts from rising sea levels. In the face of these, pourashavas need to enhance their institutional know-how to maintain infrastructure and services.
ADB provided some $65 million loan for a first performance-based urban project to support governance reforms and infrastructure improvements in 27 pourashavas during 2003-2007.
A second project followed in 2008-2016 backed by a loan of $87 million widening the support to 51 pourashavas. Further supported by an ongoing third project, with an ADB loan of $125 million approved in 2014, urban infrastructure and governance has significantly improved, the release added.