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Water Policy and Related Operations

Water Policy and Related Operations

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This special evaluation study assesses the implementation of ADB's 2001 water policy and the performance of related operations, identify lessons and issues and make recommendations to inform future decision making on water sector operations.
This special evaluation study assesses the implementation of ADB's 2001 water policy and the performance of related operations, identify lessons and issues and make recommendations to inform future decision making on water sector operations.

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22. Relevance is assessed from several perspectives: ADB's corporate strategy, DMC
national priorities, and addressing international consensus on integrated water resources
management (IWRM) and MDGs.

23. Consistency with past and present corporate strategies. In 1999, ADB published its
1999 Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS)16

followed in 2001 by its Long-Term Strategic

Framework, 2001–2015 (LTSF).17

The 1999 PRS identified lack of adequate water and
sanitation as key determinants of poverty, in addition to other social indicators and income
poverty. The strategy promoted continued investment in the water subsectors. The 2001 LTSF
indicated that large investments would be required in the social sectors and in social
infrastructure, particularly education, health, shelter, and WSS, especially in the poorer DMCs. It
also discussed issues relating to regional cooperation, including shared watershed management.
ADB sought to ensure, in conjunction with DMCs, that environmental policies adopt an
integrated resource management approach as highlighted by the then recently published water
policy. The water policy aims to promote achievements of higher irrigation efficiency in a basin

24. In 2008, ADB updated its LTSF under Strategy 2020,18

which superseded the 2001
LTSF and established three strategic agendas to guide its work up to 2020 namely: (i) inclusive
economic growth, (ii) environmentally sustainable growth, and (iii) regional integration. Water is
common to each and is central to their achievement. The seven key elements of the water
policy are consistent with Strategy 2020.

25. Consistency with national priorities. While the 2001 water policy is highly relevant to
DMC national priorities, the design of water projects in relation to country- or location-specific
demand factors and institutional capacities is not always appropriate. With a few exceptions, the
design of projects’ physical assets is appropriate, as evidenced by almost 90% of projects rated
relevant or highly relevant in the project completion report (PCR). However, evidence from case


ADB. 2004. Interim Review of ADB's Water Policy Implementation Report of the In-House Study by ADB's Water
Sector Committee
. Manila.


ADB. 2006. Water for All: Translating Policy into Action, The Review Panel’s Final Report and Recommendations.


ADB. 1999. Fighting Poverty in Asia and the Pacific: The Poverty Reduction Strategy. Manila.


ADB. 2001. Moving the Poverty Reduction Agenda Forward in Asia and the Pacific: The Long–Term Strategic
Framework of the Asian Development Bank (2001–2015)
. Manila.


ADB. 2008. Strategy 2020: The Long-Term Strategic Framework of the Asian Development Bank, 2008–2020.


studies and key informants suggests that the design of implementation mechanisms for capacity
development and financial sustainability could be better.

26. DMCs’ national priorities are shaped in part by prevailing environmental and social
conditions. Currently, around 1.9 billion people in countries eligible for funding from the Asian
Development Fund (ADF) do not have access to basic sanitation. After years of neglect by
DMCs in Asia, the infrastructure deficit has led to unsanitary and unhealthy cities. Underlying
causes include (i) poor cost recovery in public sector operations, (ii) weak policies and
institutions, and (iii) regulatory failure. Water resource depletion and impairment hamper Asia’s
economic growth and increase susceptibility to natural disasters. With its emphasis on improved
legal and institutional frameworks, tariff reform, improved service delivery, IWRM, water
conservation and other widely accepted water management practices, the water policy provides
DMCs with the necessary high-level framework to address water resource issues.

27. Addressing international consensus on IWRM and MDGs. ADB’s water policy also
reflects the prevailing international consensus about the importance of elements such as IWRM.
Beyond this consistency in content, it is important to recognize the significant contribution that
ADB’s water policy has made to the international consensus on water; it makes a distinction
between water as a resource and water as a service. However, IWRM, which has received
increased focus in ADB has made limited progress in most DMCs.

28. The policy was produced almost concurrently with the MDGs agreed-upon at the
Millennium Summit in 2000 and adopted by the United Nations (UN) member countries in 2001.
While the policy does not mention the MDGs as such, it lists the indicative targets set at the
Second World Water Forum (WWF) at The Hague in March 2000 from which the WSS targets
were taken up by the MDGs. The policy was intended to help DMCs achieve MDGs and
adopt water action agendas that have clearly defined objectives and milestones linked to
resources. The policy is, thus, highly relevant to regional objectives, at least at the
conceptual level. The policy is closely aligned with MDG 7 (Target 10) “to reduce by half the
proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.”

29. ADB has made a good contribution to the evolving international consensus on water
through its support to the Asian forum and the WWF. ADB is represented at most regional and
global international workshops and conferences. Through research papers and those prepared
for technical assistance (TA) projects, ADB has contributed to the international debate on water
and related issues.19

The 2007 WWF publication Achieving Water Security for Asia is an
impressive document, with a wealth of information on water issues and solutions in the region
and individual countries. Through the Community of Practice (CoP),20

and linkages to the Global
Water Partnership and to national partnerships, ADB has made substantial efforts to spread the
messages contained in the water policy.

30. ADB’s operations in the water sector have responded well to country needs. Sector
priorities are agreed upon in the country partnership strategies (CPSs) and updates, and
specific project priorities in almost all cases are recommended or approved by the national


An example is the assistance supporting establishing and supporting the Asia-Pacific Water Forum, which
encourages collaborative efforts on water resources management and accelerates the effective integration of water
resources management into the socioeconomic development process of the Asia and Pacific region.




planning agencies. CPSs are aligned with national development plans of DMCs. In India and
PRC, the largest borrowers in the water sector, the national planners present ADB with a
prioritized list of projects for which they seek financing; the programs thus closely reflect
national demands.

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