The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved an $80 million loan to modernise and expand the wastewater network and treatment facilities in the populous Kathmandu valley.
"Better and broader sewage and wastewater systems will improve health and living conditions and reduce river pollution in the Kathmandu valley where the population has vastly outgrown the existing wastewater network," said senior urban development specialist in ADB’s South Asia Department Manoj Sharma.
The project continues work that ADB has been doing with the government since 2000 to improve water supply in the Kathmandu valley. It includes the development of the 27.5-km Melamchi tunnel, which will bring an additional 170 million litres of water per day into Kathmandu valley from 2016 when the tunnel is due to be completed.
Currently, the valley only receives around 100 million litres per day. Kathmandu valley, home to 2.51 million people, is growing at 4.3 per cent per annum, faster than the 1.4 per cent per annum growth rate in the rest of the country as per Census 2011.
However, low investment in sewerage systems is forcing communities to dump waste into the Bagmati river, which flows through Kathmandu and is revered by Hindus and Buddhists.
It has increased health risks and put an undue burden on the poor and vulnerable groups, notably women. The latest project, set for completion in 2018, will rebuild or lay around 514-km of sewers and modernise and expand five wastewater treatment plants that would increase the treatment capacity from around 16 million litres per day to around 90 million litres per day.
Project staff will also work with schools and communities to increase awareness of hygiene and sanitation and with the government to improve environmental monitoring and financial management of wastewater systems.
The goal is to ensure the systems collect more than 80 per cent of the area’s sewage in 2018 from five per cent in 2012 and, by 2020, to ensure some 1.96 million beneficiaries are linked to the wastewater network.
In 2012, only 1.20 million people were hooked up to a wastewater system. The $137 million project will also be financed with $40.7 million to be provided by the government and $16.3 million from Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Fund for International Development (OFID).
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members — 48 from the region. In 2012, ADB assistance totalled $21.6 billion, including cofinancing of $8.3 billion.