The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has provided $15 million fund that will help seven cities in Punjab 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.

The loan will help to ensure high level of readiness ahead of the ensuing Punjab urban development projects and complement ADB’s existing technical assistance to Pakistan for conducting feasibility studies and exploring innovations to improve the quality of urban services.

“This loan will help local governments improve spatial and urban planning, prepare environmental assessments, put in place gender action plans with special focus on gender equality and incorporate climate-resilient designs for priority investments,” said ADB Senior Urban Development Specialist for Central and West Asia Jude Kohlhase. Pakistan has experienced rapid urbanisation as rural populations have migrated within the country to find jobs.

Urban development challenges are the most pronounced in Punjab, which accounts for 53% of Pakistan’s urban population and experiences intermittent access to poor-quality water, ineffective wastewater and solid waste management, and severe traffic issues because of a lack of public transport and poor traffic management.

The ADB will help identify integrated smart solutions to strengthen the 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 Pakistan government’s development priorities, which emphasise providing access to safe water, sanitation, urban transport and a healthy living environment.

The ADB said it was committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty.