The Asian Development Bank (ADB) achieved a record disbursement of $323.7 million for development projects in Nepal in 2019. Some of the projects contributing to 2019’s record disbursement include the Earthquake Emergency Assistance Project ($38.5 million), the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Power System Expansion Project ($28.7 million), Food Safety and Agriculture Commercialization Program ($25 million), Regional Urban Development Project ($22.1 million), Rural Connectivity Improvement Project ($20.2 million), and Supporting School Sector Development Program ($20 million).
“ADB’s support to the Government of Nepal in the infrastructure sector has increased in the recent years with larger but fewer projects,” said ADB Country Director for Nepal Mukhtor Khamudkhanov, speaking at a country portfolio review meeting jointly organized by ADB and the Ministry of Finance.“But while disbursement has picked up pace, challenges remain and the overall performance of ADB operations in Nepal could be much better.”
Khamudkhanov added,“For better and quicker results on the ground, higher lending needs to be matched with improved implementation and enhanced technical capacity of implementing agencies. Difficult terrain and remoteness of project sites, addressing safeguards issues,and the country’s ongoing transitionto federalism that takes time have also posed challenges in effective implementation of development programs.
“We appreciate the consistent efforts by the Ministry of Finance to progressively address risks and constraints through regular country and tripartite portfolio review meetings, with active participation of line ministries and relevant agencies.”
At a special ceremony held in conjunction with the meeting, Finance Secretary Sishir Kumar Dhungana presented awards to ADB-supported projects that showed excellent results in 2019.
The Third Small Towns Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Project and Community Managed Irrigated Agriculture Sector (Additional Financing) won the outstanding project management teams awards. The Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Project was awarded the best team for procurement management prize.
The SASEC Power System Expansion Project received the best team award in the categories of environmental and social safeguard monitoring; the Third Small Towns Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Project won the gender equality and social inclusion award; and the SASEC Road Connectivity Project bagged the financial management and disbursement accolade.
“These awards recognize the project teams' excellence not only in effective project management which helped save time and prevent cost overruns, but also prioritize gender equality and social inclusion, as well as environmental sustainability and social safeguards,” said Khamudkhanov.
Since the start of its operations in Nepal in 1969, ADB has provided about $6 billion in financial and technical assistance to the country. The assistance provided by ADB to date focus on the energy, transport, urban development, water supply and sanitation, agriculture and irrigation, education sectors, among others.