May 2, 2013, 5:45 p.m.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved an $80 million loan to modernize and expand the wastewater network and treatment facilities in the populous Kathmandu Valley.

“Better and broader sewage and waterwater systems will improve health and  living conditions and reduce river pollution in the Kathmandu Valley where the population has vastly outgrown the existing wastewater network,” said Manoj Sharma, Senior Urban Development Specialist in ADB’s South Asia Department.

This project continues work that ADB has been doing with the Government of Nepal since 2000 to improve water supply in the Kathmandu Valley. This includes the development of the 27.5-kilometer Melamchi tunnel, which will bring an additional 170 million liters of water per day into Kathmandu Valley from 2016 when the tunnel is due to be completed. Currently, the valley only receives around 100 million liters per day.

The Kathmandu Valley, home to 2.51 million people, is growing at 4.3% per annum, faster than the 1.4% per annum growth rate in the rest of the country as per Census 2011. However, low investment in sewerage systems is forcing communities to dump waste into the Bagmati River, which flows through the Kathmandu Valley and is revered by Hindus and Buddhists. This has increased health risks and puts an undue burden on the poor and vulnerable groups, notably women.

The latest project, set for completion in 2018, will rebuild or lay around 514 kilometers of sewers and modernize and expand five wastewater treatment plants that would increase the treatment capacity from around 16 million liters per day to around 90 million liters per day. Project staff will also work with schools and communities to increase awareness of hygiene and sanitation and with the government to improve environmental monitoring and financial management of wastewater systems.

The goal is to ensure the systems collect more than 80% of the area’s sewage in 2018 from 5% in 2012 and, by 2020, to ensure some 1.96 million beneficiaries are linked to the wastewater network. In 2012, only 1.20 million people were hooked up to a wasterwater system.

The $137 million project will also be financed with $40.7 million to be provided by the Government of Nepal and $16.3 million from Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries Fund for International Development (OFID). ADB will administer OFID’s and a $300,000 grant.

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