ISLAMABAD                   -            The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $15 million loan that will help seven cities in Punjab province in Pakistan design comprehensive investment and public service delivery plans in preparation for upcoming urban development projects.

The loan will fund the preparation of spatial master plans, detailed engineering designs, and operational business plans for proposed projects in the cities of Bahawalpur, Dera Ghazi Khan, Multan, Muzaffargarh, Rahim Yar Khan, Rawalpindi, and Sargodha.

It will help to ensure a high level of readiness ahead of the ensuing Punjab urban development projects and complement ADB’s existing technical assistance to Pakistan to conduct feasibility studies and explore innovations to improve the quality of urban services.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) had disbursed $2.16 billion to Pakistan in first six months (July to December) of ongoing fiscal year. In December 2019, the ADB had approved two different loans worth of $1.3 billion for Pakistan for budgetary support and for addressing the energy sector issues.

The ADB has approved $1 billion in immediate budget support to Pakistan to shore up the country’s public finances and help strengthen a slowing economy. The bank has also approved a $300 million policy-based loan that will help the government address financial sustainability, governance, and energy infrastructure policy constraints in the energy sector.

In a latest development, the ADB has approved $15 million for Pakistan. “The Government of Punjab has taken a proactive role in tackling urban development challenges in the province,” said ADB Senior Urban Development Specialist for Central and West Asia Mr. Jude Kohlhase.

“This loan will help the local governments improve spatial and urban planning, prepare environmental assessments, put in place gender action plans with a special focus on gender equality, and incorporate climate resilient designs for priority investments.”

Pakistan has experienced rapid urbanization as rural populations have migrated within the country to find jobs.

Urban development challenges are most pronounced in cities in Punjab province, which account for 53 per cent of Pakistan’s urban population and experience intermittent access to poor quality water, ineffective wastewater and solid waste management, and severe traffic issues because of lack of public transport and poor traffic management.

ADB will help identify integrated smart solutions to strengthen institutions’ urban and spatial planning systems. It will also support the preparation of land acquisition and resettlement plans, feasibility studies, and procurement documents.

The upcoming projects are in line with the Pakistan government’s development priorities, which emphasise providing access to safe water, sanitation, urban transport, and a healthy living environment.

ADB is committed to achieve a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty.