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The government of Japan is supporting efforts to improve the performance of water and wastewater utilities in developing member countries in South, Central and East Asia to enable them to reach more people, particularly those in impoverished areas, and improve their services to existing clients.


Japan is extending a US$2mn grant to fund the Water Operators’ Partnership in Asia project, which will be administered by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The funding comes from the Japan Special Fund.


“Water operators in Asia suffer from various problems, including structural and organizational weaknesses, poor service and financial performances, the absence of internal control, wasteful procurement practices, and poor consumer relations,” says ADB’s water supply and sanitation specialist Paul van Klaveren.


As a result, many developing member countries may be unable to achieve the provision under the Millennium Development Goals that calls for halving by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation. The Millennium Development Goals were drawn up in 2000 by the UN Millennium Summit to reduce poverty and improve lives.


System leakages are high in developing member countries, with typical non-revenue water ranging from 25% to 70%, says van Klaveren. Water is rarely supplied on a 24-hour basis, and in areas fortunate to have such a service, connection costs are high, he says.


The grant is being used to establish and operate water utility networks, develop and implement capacity building programs and benchmarking systems, adopt management processes that address specific areas of water utilities operations, and come up with a consensus on good practice institutional frameworks. The grant has a two-year timeframe and will form part of a longer-term assistance that is expected to run for five years.