By Sharachchandra Bhandary
In five decades since its establishment in 1966, Asian Development Bank has been instrumental in carrying out development efforts undertaken by the Government of Nepal. ADB’s contribution in raising life standard of Nepali people via various entrepreneurship development programs, social sector growth and economic prosperity has been the center of focus. The dramatic transformation of Asia and the Pacific in development – from a poor agrarian continent to a far richer, dynamic and optimistic continent, Nepal’s journey in development has been as dramatic over the decades.
The bank’s assistance in driving socio-economic growth and development in Nepal is quite commendable. In the last fifty years some of our poverty-stricken people have managed to become middle income nationals. It is a proof of long-standing and solid relationship between Nepal and the ADB. Nepal, being a founding member of ADB seeks unflinching support and goodwill in her. It is worth to note that the ADB has grown from a $1.1 billion development bank supported by 31 member countries in 1966 to an institution now capitalized with $147 billion and supported by 67 member countries.
More importantly, for developing member countries, the growth in ADB’s assistance has translated into greater results in the Asia and the Pacific. For example, its support to Khimti and Kali-Gandaki-A hydropower projects in the 1990s did not only help Nepal meet its power needs but also made Nepal able to export power at the time.
In the last fifty years, the relations between Nepal and ADB have deepened and have become more solid. Always mindful of the needs of Nepal, ADB has supported its priorities. For example, in the 1970’s Nepal’s priority was agriculture, and ADB supported Nepal’s agriculture with the construction of canals, micro-credits to farmers to buy agricultural inputs. During the conflict and post-conflict times, Nepal Government’s focus was to reduce poverty and increase access of public services to the poor and disadvantaged, and ADB supported the Government with projects like Rural Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Sector Development Project, and Decentralized Rural Infrastructure and Livelihood Project.
As Nepal gets more urbanized, ADB’s support for urban integrated development and for water supply and sanitation in small towns has resonated very well with the Nepalese people. In times of crisis, like the devastating 2015 earthquakes, ADB has contributed more than 250 million for the country’s reconstruction, helping Nepal rebuild schools, roads and government buildings adopting build back better principles. Similarly, the size of ADB support to Nepal has increased manifold – less than 10 million in 1969 to more than 300 million a year in recent years.
Looking ahead, as Nepal strives to achieve the sustainable development goals and become a middle income country by 2030, the continued partnership between the ADB and Government of Nepal takes on even more significance. Nepal also expects from the ADB to lead the process of building capacities to accelerate development project implementation, as we have time and again faced project delays, thus resulting in cost overruns. ADB’s support to the establishment of capacity development resource center at the staff college is the beginning towards this end.
The ADB has been with Nepal through challenges like the civil conflict, prolonged political transition, and the 2015 earthquakes. Despite these, Nepal is steadily progressing combating poverty and social disparities in partnership with ADB. In course of supporting Nepal]s developmental needs and changing the lives of millions of people through many projects that have provided important building blocks in this endeavor. Since 1969, ADB has provided $ 5 billion worth of assistance to Nepal in agriculture, education, energy, transport, and urban infrastructure sectors.
According to Nepal Resident Mission Country Director Kenichi Yokoyama, ADB’s current partnership strategy (2013-2017) focuses on helping the country achieve its objective of accelerated, sustainable, inclusive economic growth. And as Nepal sets out to meet the objectives of the 14th periodic plan –to achieve an average economic growth of 7.2%, to see a sharp fall in poverty and to achieve socio-economic transformation. ADB is committed to be a companion in this journey.
“We look forward to expanding and deepening our partnership with Nepal for the country’s accelerated and inclusive development, jointly building essential physical infrastructure and human capital, and transforming agriculture, while substantially enhancing implementation capacities,” he said adding, “To support this end, we aspire to increase our annual support to US$500 million from the current US$300 million, subject to increased pace of implementation. On this, I believe we are on track, achieving $358 million contract award (CA) and $210 million disbursement at the project level in 2016, compared with the average of $150 million CA and $100 million disbursement in previous years.”
Fifty years of partnership with ADB and Nepal’s development
By Sharachchandra Bhandary