ADB Review 35.1

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ADB Review 35.1 Powered By Docstoc

Education for All

Keeping Girls
in School

Educating Girls                                 


                                       July–August 2003   1
                                                                                                                                           ON HER WAY
                                                                                                                                           ON HER WAY
                                                                                                                                           Preschoolers in
                                                                                                                                           Preschoolers in
Volume 35, Number 4                                                                                                                        Mongolia are well
July–August 2003                                                                                                                           Mongolia are well
                                                                                                                                           taken care of, from
                                                                                                                                           taken care of, from
                                                                                                                                           attentive teachers
                                                                                                                                           attentive teachers
                                                                                                                                           to hot meals
                                                                                                                                           to hot meals

                                                                                                                                                                             Carolyn Dedolph
EDUCATION                                                                              18 NEPAL: Bringing
    4 MONGOLIA: Education for All After painful stream-                                the Bank to the
      lining and reforms, the majority of Mongolia’s children again                    Village The Rural
      have the chance to gain a decent education                                       Microfinance Project aims to
                                                                                       give poor women an
    8 PAKISTAN: More than Just a Name In Baluchistan,                                  opportunity to make a new
      women are considered literate if they can write their signature.                 start by providing small loans
      But community model schools are beginning to make a difference                   to some 270,000 households

11 LAO PDR: Keeping Girls in School An innovative                                      21 ENVIRONMENT:
      project is enabling more ethnic minority girls to have access to                 Cooperating to Com-
      quality primary education                                                        bat Dust and Sand-
                                                                                       storms in Northeast

                                                                                                                                                                         David Kruger
ASIA AND THE PACIFIC                                                                   Asia A $500,000 technical
16 NEPAL: Water Burdens Eased 1,250 rural communi-                                     assistance grant is helping
      ties in Nepal have gained easier access to better quality water                  make a difference
                                                                                                                        Water brings joy........................16
                           ABOUT THE COVER                                             22 URBAN POVERTY:
                           A young woman in Quetta, Pakistan,                          Tourism: More than               26 VIEWPOINT:
                           concentrates as she does a drill at the                     Sight-Seeing The fast-           Cleaning the Air
                           chalkboard. Like many of her                                growing Asian tourism indus-     Supat Wangwongwatana,
                                                                                       try should enlist the help of    Chair of the Clean Air Initia-
                           classmates, she is determined to get
                                                                                       the urban poor—particularly      tive for Asian Cities, says the
                           an education. An ADB project is
                                                                                       women                            region’s megacities need
                           helping give her a chance.
                                                                                                                        comprehensive and inte-
                                                                                       24 CENTRAL ASIA:                 grated programs to improve
                           Cover photo by Rollie del Rosario                           Clear Logic Cooperation          air quality
ADB Review, Office of External Relations, Asian Development Bank, P.O. Box 789, 0980   makes good sense for the
Manila, Philippines; E-mail:; Fax: (632) 636-2648; Web:     Central Asian republics          In this publication, “$” refers to US dollars.

2                         July–August 2003
One Year on and in Need of Help
With poverty and unemployment still widespread, the international community needs
to support the country’s future with engagement, understanding, and insight
By Jeremy H. Hovland                                            the specific challenges to growth and devel-     experience elsewhere confirms that these
Director General, Pacific Department                            opment that have become evident in this          opportunities also bring great risks, and

                                                                short time.                                      counsels vigilance against waste, misman-
                s Timor-Leste celebrates its                        The civil peace is fragile, as evidenced     agement, and corruption.
                first birthday this month, it is                by the riots last December. Not everyone is          The urgent challenge of good governance
                essential that the world appre-                 content with the progress so far and willing     is especially critical. Transparency and
                ciates the complex challenges                   to wait for things to change. Insurgents         accountability are not luxuries to be pursued
facing this newest of nations. Understanding                    on both sides of the border with Indonesia       later. Practices that jeopardize trust and
the many challenges that lie ahead is criti-                    still threaten to disrupt the peace when         confidence are almost impossible to reverse
cal if expectations of progress are to remain                   Timor-Leste takes sole responsibility for its    and all too easy to entrench.
realistic and premature judgments on suc-                       internal security and defense. The country           Perhaps most important of all, with an
cess or failure are to be avoided.                                                                                             overwhelmingly young popu-
     Timor-Leste is moving forward.                                                                                            lation, Timor-Leste must
But it needs more than the financial                                                                                           generate productive and
support of the world community; it                                                                                             meaningful activity for its
needs the deeper engagement that                                                                                               work force. Underemploy-
comes from informed concern and un-                                                                                            ment, social exclusion, and a
derstanding. The Government must                                                                                               growing income divide are an
have trust and confidence in the                                                                                               invitation to social disasters
international community—trust                                                                                                  faced by many developing
that it is a friend acting with genuine                                                                                        countries. Subsistence agricul-
concern, and confidence that it is                                                                                             ture will not suffice. A vibrant
                                         Guido Sam Martins

committed to the long-term goals of                                                                                            private sector will be essential.
the country.                                                                                                                       Political stability and co-
     Without this understanding, the                                                                                           hesion are critical for building
risk grows that Timor-Leste will be                                                                                            a strong democracy and a
disappointed in its supporters and
suspicious of counsel. It is too easy for
the world to focus on Timor-Leste’s
                                                             It is not enough for the world to look in every now and then
brief existence as an independent state and                     must foster a relationship with Indonesia,       sound foundation for development. Land
disregard its long history—and memory—                          despite the past, because of the profound        ownership is a potentially divisive issue
of betrayal and desertion by many members                       impact good relations would have for the         requiring political will and foresight.
of the international community.                                 future. Resolution of the refugee problem            Each challenge is daunting, each issue
     It would be premature to judge Timor-                      is critical. Reconciliation with those op-       complex. Timor-Leste knows what it is up
Leste’s progress since independence. But the                    posed to independence will also influence        against and has its answers. But if recent
nation does have some achievements to                           how quickly Timor-Leste achieves the             anniversary congratulations are to be genu-
celebrate. The planning of the reform agenda                    social cohesion needed for successful devel-     ine, the international community must also
is solid. Reconstruction of the infrastructure                  opment. The determination of a border with       take the time and make the effort to under-
is significant, with many commercial and                        Australia is crucial for Timor-Leste in regard   stand and assist its newest member.
residential buildings restored in Dili, power                   to its prospective revenues from the                 It is not enough for the world to look in
and water supplies gradually being reestab-                     resource-rich Timor Sea. The extent to           every now and then. It is not enough to offer
lished, and port facilities repaired. In the                    which negotiations satisfy both parties          advice or send money when the media high-
public sector, key legislative and regulatory                   will long influence relations between            light a setback or disaster. The world has a
reforms have been initiated; and steps to-                      them.                                            stake in Timor-Leste’s future. It needs to
ward the development of a financial market                          Wherever lines are drawn, managing sub-      support that future with engagement,
are under way.                                                  stantial revenues from the oil and gas fields    understanding, and insight.
     Despite these improvements, much of                        under the sea is likely to present an even
                                                                                                                 This article appeared in The Canberra Times on
the country still lives in poverty, and unem-                   greater challenge. New income flows will
                                                                                                                 30 May 2003. It is reprinted with permission.
ployment is widespread.                                         bring new opportunities that many dev-           The material in this article does not necessarily
     It is appropriate and timely to look at                    eloping countries would envy. But harsh          reflect the official views of ADB.

                                                                                                                                      July–August 2003          3
After painful streamlining
and reforms, the majority
of Mongolia’s children again
have the chance to gain a
decent education, with
schools being repaired and
modernized, curricula over-
hauled, and new textbooks
being published
By Carolyn Dedolph

External Relations Specialist

                     inter is long and hard in
                      Mongolia. Even on an
                      early morning in mid-
                      November, the tem-
                      perature is –12oC and
the wind bitterly cold.
     Breath steaming, students bundled up
in long coats and fur hats trudge down the
frozen streets of Dzuunmod, a town of about
20,000, south of the Mongolian capital of
Ulaanbaatar. The clanging of the School
of Humanity’s bell urges them to sprint
the last few meters to the door to avoid
being tardy.
     Cheeks red with the cold, students wel-
come the warmth of the building. Heat is
precious during Mongolian winters—and
costly. Schools like this commonly spend a
third of their budget on heating alone, leav-
ing little money for paying teachers, buying
textbooks, and maintaining facilities.
     The School of Humanity was fortunate:
it received $120,000 from the Asian Devel-
opment Bank (ADB)-supported Education
Sector Development Program for repairing
its badly decaying roof and providing chem-
istry and physics laboratories, computers,
desks and chairs, chalkboards, and new text-
     “It would have been a very different pic-
ture without the renovation. Because of the
                                                 Rollie del Rosario

leaky roof, the school would have had to be
closed,” says Baasan Main, the school’s
General Director.

4                           July–August 2003

                                                                                                     Rollie del Rosario
Training has boosted
teachers’ confidence

                                                                                                         Carolyn Dedolph
                                                                                                                                LUNCH TIME
                            CRAZE Students eagerly                              The students and                                A preschooler eating
                                                                                                                                a hot lunch at school
                            study the computer
                                                                                teachers know
                                                                                what the Internet

                                                                                                          Rollie del Rosario
                                                                                offers, but they
                                                                                are still waiting
                                                                                to go online
                                                                                because the school
                                                                                cannot afford
                                                           Rollie del Rosario

                                                                                                                                                                    TIME OUT
                                                                                the monthly                                                                         Students
                                                                                connection fee                                                                      enjoying
                                                                                                                                                                    the snow

   Rocky Transition                               many were forced to close. Preschools, which                                 merged and closed schools, and let thousands
   During the socialist era, education was        accommodated 97,000 children, were hard                                      of staff members go in a bid to improve qual-
   heavily subsidized with modern school and      hit, with 244 out of 900 closing between                                     ity by concentrating scarce funds on a leaner,
   dormitory facilities built in all soum (dis-   1990 and 2001. By school year 1993/94,                                       more compact system whose needs could
   trict) centers. Every child—even those from    enrollment had plummeted to 370,300 from                                     be adequately financed.
   nomadic families in remote areas—could go      446,700 in 1989/90, and dropouts soared
   to school. With every school having a full     by 2,300% between school years 1988/89                                       Teachers Now Well Paid
   staff complement, student-teacher ratios       and 1992/93.                                                                 It was a painful process, but the improved
   were among the lowest in the world and—            Finding it impossible to guarantee ad-                                   efficiency provided resources for financing
   although educationally desirable—proved        equate financing for education, the Govern-                                  essential items, such as teachers’ salaries.
   expensive.                                     ment saw a need for streamlining and                                         Today, Mongolia’s teachers are enthusiastic
       With the collapse of the Eastern Bloc,     downsizing the system, and asked ADB for                                     and can expect to receive up to $100 per
   Mongolia embarked on a painful transition      financial and technical assistance. So ADB                                   month in rural areas and $150 in major cities.
   from a planned to a market economy. As a       funded a comprehensive restructuring and                                     A doctor in Mongolia, for example, earns $60
   consequence, expenditures on education         reform program in 1996, and also financed                                    a month. This figure puts Mongolia well
   eroded drastically, with teachers’ salaries    basic building rehabilitation, textbook pro-                                 ahead of other former socialist countries in
   having to be cut to minimal levels and text-   vision, and teacher training. Using a $6.5                                   the region such as Tajikistan, where teachers’
   books becoming precious. With no budget        million loan from ADB’s Asian Development                                    salaries are just $5 a month.
   for maintenance or repair, facilities dete-    Fund, which provides support for ADB’s least                                     By school year 1999/2000, enrollment
   riorated—particularly in rural areas—and       developed members, the Government                                            had risen to over 90% again. Rural areas,

                                                                                                                                                  July–August 2003         5
                 however, still lagged behind, with enroll-
                 ment in two thirds of the districts lower than
                     “The numbers show that students are
                 staying in school longer than they did 5 years
                 ago…fortunately Mongolians have been
                 able to pay their teachers a living wage and
                 that’s a very important factor too. The teach-
                 ers are motivated. They are capable and that
                 helps the kids stay in school,” says Barry
                 Hitchcock, ADB Country Director for
                     But much remains to be done.
                     The Second Education Development
                 Project, partially financed through a $14
                 million loan from the Asian Development
                 Fund, was approved in 2002. The Govern-
                 ment of Japan provided $45 million and the
                 Nordic Development Fund $4.8 million,
                 with the Government funding the balance
                 of the $68.5 million Project. The Project
                 builds on reforms and activities started in
                 the first project. Its goal is to help provide
                 universal access to quality primary and sec-
                                                                  Rollie del Rosario

                 ondary education—including for children                                EUREKA! New chemistry and physics
                 with disabilities—especially in rural areas                            laboratories are providing students
                 and poorer urban communities.                                          with hands-on opportunities

                 Tradition Versus Change                                                   During the past few years, severe                 “I prefer Nyamdavaa to continue his
                 Many children enrolled in the School of                               droughts followed by harsh winters killed         studies,” says Mr. Namjil. “I want him to be
                 Humanity are sons and daughters of no-                                millions of head of livestock, depriving thou-    an excellent student and become a doctor
                 madic herders from remote rural areas, so                             sands of herder families of their livelihoods.    for the people of Mongolia.”
                 they must come to live in Dzuunmod. About                             Partly due to this, dropout rates in rural            Unlike many nations, Mongolia is chal-
                 180 children stay in a dormitory during the                           schools are high, with many boys leaving          lenged with educating its boys, who only
                 school week and go home on weekends (see                              school to go back home to
                 box, p.7). Some students come from as far as
                 300 kilometers away.
                                                                                       work as herders, as tradition
                                                                                                                                         SON: I don’t want to be a
                     Boarding education is long entrenched                                 Nyamdavaa Namjil, a                           herder. I want to be a
                                                                                                                    Rollie del Rosario

                 in Mongolia, going back to the days when
                 monasteries provided most of the education.
                                                                                       15-year-old student and dor-
                                                                                       mitory resident at the
                                                                                                                                         professional. That’s why
                 Today, dormitories are crucial for allowing                           School of Humanity, how-                          I’m interested in science
                 children from poorer families to attend                               ever, has other plans. He
                 school.                                                               wants to be a doctor—and live in a town.          account for 40% of enrollment in upper
                     As is common throughout Mongolia,                                     “I don’t want to be a herder. I want to be    secondary education. At higher education
                 more girls than boys are enrolled in the                              a professional. That’s why I’m interested in      levels, female students outnumber their
                 School of Humanity, which used to be two                              science,” he says.                                male counterparts by over two to one.
                 schools. The cost of the schooling, dormi-                                Fortunately for his family, Nyamdavaa’s           Medical school tuition, however, costs
                 tory, and food is about $2 a week per child.                          youngest sister, Byambadulam, loves ani-          a small fortune by Mongolian standards:
                 Although the Government covers the basic                              mals and wants to take over the 150 sheep,        about $300 a year. Nyamdavaa’s parents will
                 expenses, parents often contribute to cover-                          50 goats, 50 horses, 17 cattle, and 2 camels      have to pay this, which will be a challenge
                 ing these costs as well with sheep or other                           from her father, Zuudi Namjil, who doesn’t        in a country where the per capita gross na-
                 livestock.                                                            mind breaking with tradition.                     tional product is about $400.

                                              FATHER: I prefer Nyamdavaa to continue                                                     Waiting for the Internet
                                                                                                                                         Computer laboratories have made a big
                                              his studies. I want him to be an
Rollie del Rosario

                                                                                                                                         difference in many schools. Fifth grade stu-
                                              excellent student and become a doctor                                                      dents at Ulaanbaatar’s School of the Future,
                                              for the people of Mongolia                                                                 formerly known as School No. 80, are well
                                                                                                                                         aware of the importance of computers. They

                 6                     July–August 2003

                                                                   Dorm Mother
                                                                   One Tough Woman
                                                                                 on’t let her petite stature and twinkling eyes fool you: nothing escapes
                                                                                 “Dormitory Teacher” Lhamsuren Sharav. She is, after all, responsible for the
                                                                                 care of the 180 children who live in the School of Humanity’s dormitory.
                                                                                 With eight children of her own, the 64-year-old
                                                                   veteran of the Mongolian school system knows every trick in
                                                                   the book. But she says that the children are generally well
                                                                       “Most of our children are from the countryside. Compared
                                                                   with the city boys and girls, our children are more disciplined
                                                                   because they come straight from their parents’ hands,” she says.
                                                                       Four to a room, the boys are on one side of the hall and the
                                                                   girls on the other. Brothers and sisters, however, are allowed to
                                                                   stay in the same room.
                                                                       Life in the dormitory is structured. There is a time for home-
                                                                   work, a time for leisure, and a time for a weekly party.
                                                                       A strictly enforced rule is that they must be in their own
                                                                   rooms by 8 p.m.

                                                                                                                                  Rollie del Rosario
                                                                        “We haven’t had cases of boys and girls getting intimately
                                                                   involved because we have strict internal regulations and rules,”
                                                                   she explains. “We take their interests into consideration, but
are enthusiastically studying the compu-                           they understand they have to stay in their own rooms.”
                                                                                                                                       SHARP EYES Dormitory
ter—and learning English in the process—                               Built in 1974, the dormitory has not been renovated. Some-
                                                                                                                                       Teacher Lhamsuren Sharav
because there aren’t computer programs in                          times the teachers and parents donate money to pay for basic
Mongolian.                                                         maintenance, such as painting.
    “English is the world’s language. With-                            Throughout the evening, the dormitory teacher pokes her head in each room to
out it, it’s difficult to go outside our bor-                      check on the children. When all is quiet, she goes to her own home around midnight,
ders,” says 12-year-old Dagontsooj.                                and returns early in the morning to serve breakfast and get the children off to school on
    “I understand the computer is a key for                        time. Just like any other mother, she is there for them.
my future,” says Uien, also 12, who wants to
be a doctor.                                                                                                                   DORM LIFE Students doing
                                                                                                                               their homework together
    Students and teachers know what the
Internet offers, but they are still waiting to
go online because the school cannot afford
the monthly connection fee.
    With 70% of Mongolia’s population
under 35 years old, education is the founda-
tion of Mongolia’s future. Reforms, stream-
lining, and repairs—mixed with ample
optimism and dedication—are propelling
Mongolia’s education system toward achiev-
ing its goal of education for all. Teacher
Surmaajav expresses this determination:
“All these things will help us provide our
children with an educational foundation
that matches world standards.”

—With contributions from Adrian Brown,
                                                 Carolyn Dedolph

Asia-Pacific Vision

For more on ADB’s work in Mongolia, go to

                                                                                                                                           July–August 2003    7

                                                                                                                                                      Rollie del Rosario
Government wants to build
community model schools
in 4,000 rural villages

In Baluchistan, women are considered literate if they can write their signature. Only 8% can read
or write. But community model schools are beginning to make a difference, with ADB assistance
By Guy Sacerdoti                                   efits, not merely in terms of health and per-          It’s been just 10 years since a girls’ school

Consultant                                         sonal well-being, but in the natural transfer      opened—in a room in someone’s home.
                                                   of knowledge to others—children, relatives,        With assistance from the Asian Development
              ishin is a town just north of the    and friends—a multiplier effect. That’s why        Bank (ADB), today it has moved to a four-
              Baluchistan capital of Quetta,       education is arguably the most important           classroom building with 213 students, from
              in Pakistan. It’s schooltime.        criterion for exiting the poverty cycle.           nursery level to grade 5. These children have
              Several girls are talking in front                                                      a chance. Many more still do not.
              of a video camera:                   Giving Girls a Chance                                  From ground level, the reasons are simple.
    “Do you go to school?”                         Enter the village of Qadirabad. Three hours        Poverty by necessity forces a short-term out-
    “No.”                                          from Quetta, it is at the northwest edge of        look. Girls are needed to help with house-
    “Why?                                          the country near the border of Afghanistan         work and in the fields. Pragmatically and
    “Because my father doesn’t let me…”            and Iran. It is dusty. It is dry. In summer it’s   religiously, school distance is a concern. No
    “I don’t go to school,” says another.          40°C, in winter it’s –5°C. It rained in Febru-     chaperone, no go. And there’s a historical,
    “Why?”                                         ary for the first time in 7 years. The water       cultural influence that restricts gender eq-
    “Because my father doesn’t let me.”            table fell from 55 meters (m) to over 122 m        uity. Today people want more. And ADB is
    It seems to be a common theme.                 during the drought.                                helping.
    Education is knowledge. And knowledge
is the currency of the Information Age.
    Aside from its obvious economic value,          Education was no longer something to fear
education brings with it huge social ben-

8                      July–August 2003
                    The Second Girls’ Primary School Sec-
                                                                                       OPPORTUNITY Each year,
                tor Project was a 5-year plan to help the                              7,500 girls are entering grade
                Pakistan Government in its long-term goal                              1 or 2 who previously would
                of building community model schools in                                 never have had the chance
                each of the country’s 4,000 rural villages
                (union councils). The $78.8 million Project
                ($45 million from the ADB’s Asian Devel-
                opment Fund [ADF], $16 million from the
                OPEC Fund, and $17.8 million from the
                Pakistan Government) covered about a
                quarter of those villages by the end of 2001.
                    The resulting benefits are clear. Each
                year, 7,500 girls entered grade 1 or 2; they
                previously would never have had the oppor-
                tunity. More dramatically, an estimated
                120,000 girls, who would have been forced
                to drop out, stayed the course. Each year,
                35,000 girls are entering middle schools who
                would not have been able to otherwise.

                Convincing Parents
                                                                  Rollie del Rosario

                It is clear that the return on investment in
                education is high, both economically and
                socially. And that’s true whether employed
                at home or outside. But the barriers remain
                high. How does one convince a person, a                          to go home, they used to tell their parents,

                                                                                                                                   Rollie del Rosario
                community, of the value added of education?                      ‘this is what our teachers told us in school.’”
                    Shaheen Lajwer, 25, is a teacher—since                           It worked. Education was no longer some-
                she was 15—and a committed advocate of                           thing to fear. She began with 13 students.
                gender equity in education. She works in                         When an ADB-funded school opened in
                Pishin.                                                          2000, there were 150. Today, there are 220.
                    “We used to go to different houses regu-                         This needs to happen across Baluchistan,
                larly for 3 or 4 days and try to convince the                    a province comprising 40% of Pakistan, but
                parents by giving examples from the                              with a population of just six million.
                Koran…that they should send their girls to                           It is a need that spans across the region.
                school,” she says. “I used to tell them stories                  And it is being addressed. Pakistan statis-
                from the prophet…so when these girls used                        tics show that 55% of 7-year-old girls have

                     HOMEWORK A supportive
                     atmosphere in the home is
                     crucial to prevent dropout

                                                                                                                                                        “   After finishing
                                                                                                                                                        school, I’ll go to
                                                                                                                                                        college…and then         “
Rollie del Rosario

                                                                                                                                                        into the army
                                                                                                                                                          Saima and her proud grandfather

                                                                                                                                                                    July–August 2003        9
                          NEW TEACHERS ADB has helped
                          train 9,000 community model
                          school staff under the Project

                                                                          been enrolled in school. For those aged 30–         mary spaces for children must be provided,
Rollie del Rosario (x2)

                                                                          39, only 26% have ever been enrolled. The           the vast majority for girls. This is the chal-
                                                                          trend is positive. But there is much to be          lenge the Pakistan Government has taken
                                                                          done, and much of that involves education           on, and ADB, through its ADF lending win-
                                                                          itself. The rest, as usual, is finance. The three   dow, will continue to assist.
                                                                          main reasons for not enrolling girls 7–12               And it’s not just providing villages with
                                                                          years old based on a school year 2000/01            schools. Quality teaching gives quality edu-
                                                                          survey were school expense (26%), lack of           cation. ADB has helped train 9,000 com-
                                                                          parental approval (26%), and distance from          munity model school staff under the Project.
                                                                          school (16%). Those may remain the basic            Aside from training in the use of annotated
                                                                          issues.                                             teacher guidebooks, ADB helped train these
                                                                                                                              teachers in interactive radio instruction in
                                                                          Challenge for the Government                        both English and math.
                                                                          But there is another generic issue. The UN              Most important, the will to learn is there.
                                                                          Millennium Development Goals of 2000                    Back in Qadirabad, standing beside an
                                                                          state that by 2015, all boys and girls will be      obviously proud grandfather, another girl

                                                                                    able to complete a full course in         named Saima is talking in front of a video
                                                                                    primary schooling, and that gen-          camera, daring to say what once was unimag-
                                 I used to tell them stories                        der disparity should be elimi-            inable. “After finishing school, I’ll go to
                                                                                    nated.                                    college…and then into the army.”
                          from the prophet…so when these                                In school year 2000/01, 93%               Much still needs to change before her
                          girls would go home, they used                  “         of Pakistan primary school-aged           dream can come true. But when there’s a
                          to tell their parents, ‘this is what                      males were in school, while only          will….
                                                                                    54% of the females were regis-
                          our teachers told us in school’                           tered. But the more critical bar-         —With contributions from Adrian Brown,
                                                                                                                              Asia-Pacific Vision
                          Shaheen Lajwer, teacher and advocate, on how              rier is for Pakistan to achieve the
                          she convinced parents to enroll their daughters           goal of education for all by 2015—        For more on ADB’s work in Pakistan, go to
                                                                                    a 100% capacity increase in pri-

                     10                        July–August 2003

                                                                                                                       In the mid-1990s, only 43% of women
                                                                                                                   in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic
                                                                                                                   (Lao PDR) were literate, despite the
                                                                                                                   Government’s efforts to guarantee basic
                                                                                                                   education for all. In this landlocked coun-
                                                                                                                   try of 4.7 million people, where almost 40%
                                                                                                                   live in poverty, geographical and often cul-
                                                                                                                   tural barriers have largely excluded girls from
                                                                                                                   formal education.
                                                                                                                       Now, according to Khamhoung Sack-
                                                                                                                   lokham, Director General of the Department
                                                                                                                   of General Education in the Lao PDR
                                                                                                                   Ministry of Education, female student or girl
                                                                                                                   enrollment in many remote villages has in-
                                                                                                                   creased by up to 20% in the past 5 years.
                                                                                                                   Many see this as a direct result of a partner-
                                                                                                                   ship between the Government and ADB in
                                                                                                                   an innovative project to provide education
                                                                                                                   for ethnic minority girls in remote areas.
                                                                                                                       The long-term goal of ADB’s Basic Edu-
                                                                                                                   cation (Girls) Project, approved in 1998, is
                                                                                                                   to bring more women into the mainstream
                                                                                                                   of socioeconomic development by progres-
                                                                                                                   sively improving the level of their educa-
                                                                                                                   tional attainment. It will eventually provide
                                                                                                                   446 villages with new multigrade schools
                                                                                                                   with a total annual student capacity of
                                                                                                                       By the time the Project is completed in
                                                                                                                   July 2005, 52 districts will have new com-
                                                                                              Rollie del Rosario

SISTERS Misheu (left) doesn’t                                                                                      pleted schools with a total annual student
go to school; sister Boupheng
                                                                                                                   capacity of 10,000. More than 400 ethnic
is luckier: she’s enrolled
                                                                                                                   minority teachers—mainly female—will be
                                                                                                                   recruited and trained. Fifty-two advisers will
An innovative project in the Lao PDR is enabling more ethnic                                                       be trained in supporting teaching practices
minority girls to have access to quality primary education                                                         to meet the needs of minority children, es-
                                                                                                                   pecially girls, and children in multigrade
By Judy Bryant                                  to three girls aged 6 or 7 years old,” explains                    schools; and 4,000 teachers and school prin-
                                                teacher Saochanh Kammaxay. “But the par-

Consultant                                                                                                         cipals will receive in-service training in eth-
                                                ents will allow only one to go to school be-                       nic minority and multigrade approaches.
                 ine-year-old Misheu doesn’t    cause there is no money to buy clothes and                             For example, in the village of Choulesene
                 go to school. And she prob-    learning materials.”                                               Mai, with a population of 258, centuries of
                 ably never will. She spends        The cost? About $4 a year. An average                          educational deprivation are slowly chang-
                 most of her day doing house-   family in the highlands earns less than a                          ing. There is a new school, one of more than
                 hold chores while her par-     dollar a day, with subsistence agriculture the                     100 already built in the Lao PDR with ADB
ents are away foraging for food in the woods.   norm. The Asian Development Bank (ADB)                             funds. It now has 44 pupils, 19 of whom are
    Her 12-year-old sister, Boupheng, is        is helping change this.                                            girls—13 from the Akkha ethnic minority.
more fortunate. She—and not her sister—
will receive a basic education. The family
can only afford a school uniform and text-        Many families can only afford a school uniform and
books for one child.                              textbooks for one child. The cost? About $4 a year
    “In a family, there can sometimes be up

                                                                                                                                       July–August 2003       11
  Fruitful Cooperation

            DB plays a vital role in support-
            ing the efforts of the Govern-
            ment toward the country’s con-
  tinuing development and integration
  within the region, says Mada m e
  Khempheng Pholsena, Lao PDR Vice-
  President, Committee for Planning and
      The Lao PDR signed a Poverty Part-
  nership Agreement with ADB in 2001,
                  and Madame Pholsena
                  says, “There is a very strong
                  focus within our priorities
                  with the Bank on human
                  resource development.
                      “We need to invest
                  more in education: more
               Rollie del Rosario

                  money, resources, and ef-
                  forts to make education
                  accessible to people, par-
                  ticularly children in ethnic
  minority and inaccessible areas,” she
      But providing the schools is often not            IMPROVING THE ODDS Only about
  enough. Attitudes also need to change                 43% of women in the Lao PDR
  in remote communities, and the project                were literate in the mid-1990s
  is helping achieve this. Madame Pholsena
  says ethnic minorities in remote villages            come to teach here, they will not stay and                       that most of the 4,000 villages without pri-
  need to understand that children are                 that’s why many of our ethnic minority chil-                     mary schools were in mountainous ethnic
  key to the future of the Lao PDR.                    dren do not have an education.”                                  areas. About half of the 8,000 existing schools
      She notes the link between efforts to                At the school in Choulesene Mai, stu-                        did not offer all five grades, which meant
  include girls in the mainstream of edu-              dents are asked how many hope to continue                        children had to travel to other schools to
  cation and to reduce poverty in the Lao              school after level five. After some nervous                      complete their education.
  PDR. Increased access to education for               laughter, only the boys raise their hands. But                       The cost of sending children to school in
  girls will enable them to have more say in           after a bit of encouragement, girls’ hands                       such remote areas also created a financial
  their own lives, and to participate more             begin to rise. It’s not a question, after all,                   burden for the mainly subsistence farming
  fully in the country’s development, she              that the children are used to being asked.                       families. Education was merely a dream for
  says.                                                They are simply unaware of the opportuni-                        many ethnic minority girls in remote areas.
                                                       ties that exist—that education can provide.
Less than 5% of Akkha women today are
literate.                                              Benefits for All
    Yangxia Lee supervises the Ministry of             While the Project is aimed specifically at
Education and ADB’s efforts to get more vil-           girls, boys will also benefit through easier
lage girls into school. “Oh, it’s very hard, very      access to facilities and a higher quality of
hard to make change,” she says. “You know              teaching. The hope is that this will increase
how hard we work to get children to go to              in general the student retention rate.
school like this.”                                         The Project’s total cost is $33 million.
    As a member of the Hmong ethnic mi-                ADB’s Asian Development Fund—a
nority, she knows the region, its people, and          lending window designed for its least
traditions well.                                       developed member countries—is providing
                                                                                                        Rollie del Rosario

    Saybi Wang, also a Hmong, is a trainee             $20 million, with a $4.3 million grant from
teacher—and already a wife and mother at               the Australian Agency for International
16. She is also clear about why she wants a            Development, $7.7 million from the Lao
job that will pay $12 a month.                         PDR Government, and $1 million from the
    “In my village, there are no ethnic mi-            communities themselves.                                          MORE TEACHERS About 300 ethnic minority
nority teachers. And all the teachers that                 An ADB study in the mid-1990s found                          teachers—mainly female—are being trained

12                                  July–August 2003

                                             Rollie del Rosario
                                                          Rollie del Rosario

                                                                               HOMEWARD BOUND
                                                                               Students heading
                                                                               home after school

                                                                                    Oh, it’s very hard, very hard to make change
                                                                                                               Yangxia Lee, supervisor, Ministry of Education

Of those who did go to school, many dropped                                   He also cites the presence of female                              DEDICATION
out after the first 2 years. A Government                                 teachers in schools as a major factor in the                          Yangxia Lee
                                                                                                                                                working with
study in 1996 found that many rural subsis-                               higher enrollment and retention rate. The
tence households saw little benefit in edu-                               key is keeping the children in class. Though                          at a rural
cating their girls who would eventually be                                70% of Lao children enroll in primary school                          school
working in agriculture, caring for children,                              at some stage of their youth, the dropout
and doing household chores. Subsistence                                   rate averages 20%.
farming families were more likely to send                                     The Government is working hard to
boys than girls to school.                                                achieve the Millennium Development Goal
                                                                                                                           Rollie del Rosario

    But attitudes are changing. Mr. Sack-                                 of primary education for all children by the
lokham attributes this change to the                                      year 2015, says Madame Bounpheng
Project’s inclusive nature, whereby the vil-                              Mounphosay, Vice-Minister, Lao PDR Min-
lagers themselves coordinate and participate                              istry of Education.
in planning and constructing schools.                                         “Looking forward to the year 2020, our                       sector program between ADB and the Lao
                                                                          vision is for all children to reach lower sec-                   PDR Government, we have made good
Pride and Ownership                                                       ondary education level,” she says. However,                      progress in the education sector,” she says.
The Project is being implemented in two                                   the Government faces many challenges, the                        “As a result of this fruitful cooperation, Lao
phases. And its benefits are already evident.                             most significant being financial, and efforts                    children now have access to better schools
“The project has brought a big change in the                              have been made to increase the education                         and a higher quality of education.”
lives of people in these villages,” Mr. Sack-                             budget, she says.                                                    Though geographically isolated, ethnic
lokham says. “This the first time the vil-                                    Other challenges include the large                           minority girls in remote villages now have a
lagers have been able to contribute to the                                number of people living below the poverty                        chance to expand their horizons to partici-
planning, land preparation, and construction                              line, particularly in rural areas; ways to                       pate more fully in their own—and their
of a school.”                                                             encourage Lao people to understand the                           nation’s—development.
    Villagers are proud of the schools, and                               importance of education, particularly
                                                                                                                                           —With contributions from Adrian Brown,
“have a sense of ownership,” he says. “By                                 among ethnic groups in remote areas; and
                                                                                                                                           Asia-Pacific Vision
building not only classrooms, but also toilets                            the need to increase the number and qual-
and other amenities, more girls have been                                 ity of teachers.                                                 To learn more about ADB’s projects in the
encouraged to attend schools.”                                                “With the cooperation on the education                       Lao PDR, go to

                                                                                                                                                               July–August 2003      13
Infrastructure and
Growth Key to
Reducing Poverty
in GMS

              ith 50 million or more poor liv-
              ing in the Greater Mekong sub-
              region (GMS), poverty reduction
is still the key challenge facing the coopera-
tion initiative, a senior ADB official told an
ADB-sponsored economic conference on the
GMS in Washington, DC, on 26 June.
     Finding the right mix of essential growth-
supporting interventions and those that
directly target the poor is thus essential to
tackling poverty in the subregion, said Rajat
Nag, Director General of ADB’s Mekong
                                                  Eric Sales

     “Both infrastructure development and
economic growth are essential for poverty
reduction,” Mr. Nag told the ADB-sponsored
2003 Conference on Economic Cooperation                        ADB, SEAMEO Sign Education Agreement
and Opportunities in the Greater Mekong
                                                               MANILA, PHILIPPINES

     “Geographically, attention would need                             DB and the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO)
to be paid to lagging regions within the                               signed on 25 June a memorandum of understanding to improve cooperation
Mekong countries, in which many poor                                   on education issues for the benefit of common member countries.
people live. Disparities in income and op-                        Exchanging the signed agreement at ADB headquarters in Manila were ADB President
portunities between these remote places                        Tadao Chino (left) and Edilberto de Jesus (right), President of the SEAMEO Council and
and urban centers are stark.”                                  Education Secretary of the Philippines. The ceremony was attended by senior officials of
     The conference, which was held at the                     ADB and SEAMEO.
Carnegie Endowment for International
Peace, Washington, DC, was hosted jointly
with Foreign Policy magazine.                              ADB and WHO Sign Agreement on SARS
     It focused on economic opportunities
                                                          MANILA, PHILIPPINES

created after a decade of cooperation among                                                                 tance on the longer-term issues of surveil-
the six countries that share the Mekong                             DB President Tadao Chino formally       lance and prevention, both to prevent a
River—Cambodia, People’s Republic of                                signed on 18 June 2003 a memo-          flare-up of SARS and to be better prepared
China (Yunnan Province), Lao People’s                               randum of understanding (MOU)           against similar epidemics in the future,”
Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand                    with the World Health Organization                said Geert H.P.B. van der Linden, Special
and Viet Nam—with ADB assistance.                         (WHO) to cooperate in the fight against           Advisor to the ADB President, who is coor-
     Mr. Nag said that as growth has been the             the severe acute respiratory syndrome             dinating ADB’s anti-SARS efforts.
primary driving force for poverty reduction               (SARS) and other emerging diseases. At the            ADB has already fully allocated its emer-
in the GMS, a critical question is what needs             same time, ADB said it was focusing on            gency support to fight the outbreak. In re-
to be done to support markets and growth?                 longer-term issues of the outbreak.               sponse to proposals received to enhance
     “First, the GMS needs to develop do-                     The MOU, which had earlier been               surveillance and infection control, ADB said
mestic financial systems that will provide                signed by Dr. Gro Brundtland, Director-Gen-       it will support programs in 14 countries:
the incentives and security needed to en-                 eral of the Geneva-based WHO, formalized          Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji
courage higher levels of saving, and their ef-            a partnership that was formed soon after          Islands, Indonesia, Kyrgyz Republic, Lao
ficient use,” he said. “Second, within the                the SARS outbreak, with ADB providing             PDR, Nepal, Mongolia, Pakistan, Philip-
subregion, there still exists a constellation             finance and WHO the technical expertise.          pines, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, and Viet Nam.
of legal, administrative, and institutional                   Meanwhile, with WHO reporting that                In addition, ADB will support a regional
obstacles to the efficient functioning of the             SARS is on the wane in Asia and other parts       proposal for Pacific countries from the Sec-
markets.”                                                 of the world, ADB is “concentrating assis-        retariat of the Pacific Community.

14                    July–August 2003
                                                                                                        ADB BOOKSTORE

                         New ADB Publications
Commercialization of                                            Monetization in an
Microfinance: Philippines                                       Atoll Society: Managing
ISBN 971-561-490-6
Price: $10 (paperback)
                                                                Economic and Social
                                                                Change in Kiribati
         ommercialization of microfinance is a relatively       ISBN 971-561-473-6
         accepted prerequisite to sustainably meet the needs    Price: $10 (paperback)
         of the poor in the Philippines. This report analyzes

the progress toward commercialization of the Philippines               his report analyzes the eco-
heterogeneous                                                          nomic situation in Kiribati in
microfinance industry;                                                 detail, describes various
explores the remaining                                          sector performances, and identifies
challenges and implica-                                         employment opportunities, con-
tions for various stake-                                        straints, and policy options. The
holders, including                                              role of the Government in develop-
microfinance clients and                                        ment is critically analyzed and
practitioners, government                                       concrete policy responses for
officials, and funding                                          potential incorporation in the
agencies; and recom-                                            Government’s development strate-
mends positive ap-                                              gies to improve this are suggested.
proaches to
microfinance while                                              Simplification of Customs
preserving the tradi-
tional social objective of
                                                                Procedures: Toward Closer
microfinance institutions of expanding access                   Cooperation and Trade
by the poor to financial services.
Handbook for Users of                                           ISBN 971-561-481-7
                                                                Price: $10 (paperback)
Consulting Services:
Recruitment of Consult-
                                                                       his volume assembles the
                                                                       papers presented at the
ants Under ADB Financing                                               Second Asia-Europe Meet-
                                                                ing (ASEM) Seminar on Simplifica-
Price: $10 (paperback)                                          tion and Harmonization of
                                                                Customs Procedures, a follow-up to

                                                                the First ASEM Seminar on Customs
      his book teaches                                          Administration. The meeting was
      how to evaluate                                           held to deepen understanding and
      proposals, process                                        cooperation between governments
contract variations, and                                        and the business community in Asia
more.                                                           and Europe in simplifying and harmonizing customs proce-
                                                                dures through open discussions of trade and investment facili-
                                                                tation, financial and social policy reforms, and issues relating to
                                                                the World Trade Organization.

               For these and other publications, contact the Asian Development Bank Publications Unit
                 P.O. Box 789, 0980 Manila, Philippines; Fax: (632) 636-2648; E-mail:

                                                                                                           July–August 2003       15

1,250 rural communities in
Nepal have gained easier
access to better quality water
By David Kruger
External Relations Specialist

           or years, as the dry season scorched
           eastern Nepal each April and May,
           Januka Shivakoti’s day started in
           the middle of the night. With the
other women of Beltar, she headed to the
20-meter deep community well at about
2:30 a.m. each day to haul water for her fam-
ily. A full day’s supply had to be in place by
early morning because the well went dry each

                                                                                                                                                  David Kruger
afternoon.                                         CHILD’S PLAY Fetching water
     “We had to wash clothes and prepare food      has never been easier in Beltar
for the children, so we had to get up that
early to collect water,” says Ms. Shivakoti.      improved in these communities,” says Raju       With the wells so deep and supply so scarce,
     This year, Ms. Shivakoti and her neigh-      Tuladhar, Senior Economics Officer at           it was a full-time job, taking able hands off
bors are sleeping in. They now have a steady      ADB’s Nepal Resident Mission. “This has         the farms that provide food and income for
supply of piped water for 6 hours a day from      disproportionately benefited women and          most families in the area.
two new holding tanks fed by a natural spring     children, who bore the brunt of the difficul-       The economic benefits of the new sys-
on the edge of the village.                       ties of fetching water and spending hours to    tem extend beyond freeing up labor. Mr. Giri
     The simple gravity-powered distribution      get water.”                                     says many households used to spend about
system supplies 375 private taps and                                                              180 Nepali rupees ($2.30) a month on a
75 community taps in the area. Its construc-      New System Frees Up Labor                       replacement bucket and rope to haul water.
tion was funded largely through the Asian         In Beltar, the new taps have changed life for   Now, owners of private taps pay 25 Nepali
Development Bank’s (ADB) Fourth Rural             good, says Prem Giri, former chairman of the    rupees ($0.32) for 8,000 liters of water.
Water Supply and Sanitation Project. A $20        Khudunabari Village Development Com-            Greater usage incurs greater fees.
million loan from ADB’s Asian Development         mittee, which includes Beltar.                      There have also been savings on medi-
Fund—a lending window for Asia’s least                Each family used to have to designate       cines and the chemicals used in the past to
developed member countries—has helped             one member to pull water, Mr. Giri says.        treat well water. Worm infestation, scabies,
some 1,250 rural communities in 40 districts

                                                    Each family used to have to designate one
across Nepal gain easier access to better
quality water.
     “Water availability and quality have

16                          July–August 2003
                                                                                                                    WEB WATCH

                                                    Trailers of ADB
  typhoid, and waterborne diseases were preva-
  lent in Beltar when well water was used,
  with medicines costing the average house-

                                                    Videos Now Online
  hold about 500 Nepali rupees ($6.50) a year.
      Yogendra Acharya, Chairperson of the
  Beltar Drinking Water and Sanitation User
  Committee, says improvements in water
  quality have cut gastrointestinal infections
  in Beltar by 75%.                                 ADB web site records more firsts,
      “There was a big problem with the lack        including more than 10 million hits a month
  of water in this area before so the people were
  very supportive and enthusiastic about the        By Cathy Reyes-Angus                          are in English, unless otherwise specified.
  project,” Mr. Giri says. “This used to be con-    Assistant Web Administrator                   They can also be accessed from the multi-
  sidered a dirty settlement, but not anymore.”                                                   media homepage at

                                                    Video Clips                                   Publications/multimedia.asp
  Concrete Homes Popular                                    he Asian Development Bank (ADB)           View the video clips at http://
  The new water system, along with the re-                  has launched another innovative fea-
  cent introduction of electricity and a rough              ture on its web site.

  dirt road through separate assistance pro-             Web users can now view clips of ADB Audio-Video Interviews Online
  grams, has turned Beltar into a unique            videos online. This new section of the mul-             few months before launching the
  Nepali village—one that is attracting new         timedia site includes video clips of ADB-               online video clips, there was an-
  residents rather than losing them to bigger       produced documentaries on children,                     other first for the web.
  towns and cities.                                 environment, gender and development, and           In April, the Office of External Rela-
      When planning for the water project           poverty reduction.                             tions taped a short audio-video interview
  started in 1998, Beltar had a population of            Developing online video and audio clips with ADB Chief Economist Ifzal Ali. The
  5,300, and it was estimated the population        can be quite challenging—from conceptu- interview was posted online to coincide
  would double in about 20 years. But               alizing this new section to the editing and with the launch of the Asian Development
  Mr. Acharya says the area is already home to      posting of each video on the site. What are Outlook 2003. ADO 2003 attracted a record
  over 9,000 people and the new services are        the good shots? Which part could best give 19,596 downloads. This new communica-
  still attracting families from surrounding        users the essence of what the documentary tions tool has undoubtedly helped the pub-
  areas.                                            is all about? These are just some of the lication reach a wider global audience.
      One of the big draws, he says, is concrete    things that need to be considered in pro-          ADB’s External Relations Specialist
  homes. When the area depended on well             ducing the online clips. Every second counts. David Kruger, who facilitated the inter-
  water, it was very difficult to gather            And every clip should tell a story.            view, pointed out the significance of hav-
  enough water to mix the volume of con-                 “The web is certainly one of the most ing video and audio interviews on
  crete needed for a house, says Mr. Acharya.       powerful communica-                                                      “Over 200,000
  As a result, families lived in thatch and         tions tools around.                                                  people visit our web
  mud homes common throughout rural                 Posting these online                                                 site every month and
  eastern Nepal.                                    video and audio clips                                                short video or audio
      But since the new, secure water supply        is an innovative way                                                 messages are a great
  became available, over 100 concrete homes         to respond to the chal-                                              way to reach them
  have been built in Beltar. “These cement          lenge of getting our                                                 with information
  homes have given the village a reputation         messages to a wider                                                  about what we do at
  as a very developed area,” says Mr. Acharya.      audience,” says Ann                                                  ADB. Using these
      The Beltar water committee, which is          Quon, Director, Office      ADDITION Video and audio clips are       clips also shows that
  responsible for running and maintaining the       of External Relations.      a new dimension to ADB’s web site        our web site is will-
  water system, is now looking into ways to              After viewing the video clips, Ms. Quon ing to try new things and make the most
  expand coverage. It recently completed a          hopes that users will order and view the of the technology available,” says
  survey of the village and is planning to bring    full video. “The Office of External Relations Mr. Kruger.
  water to more homes and extend the hours          is working hard at many levels to improve has recorded dramatic growth
  of availability.                                  the dissemination of information, espe- in web site traffic—up from 4 million hits
      As Beltar moves forward, says Mr. Giri,       cially as we strive to become a knowledge- in April 2001 to over 10 million about
  backbreaking hours at the side of a well are      based institution,” she adds.                  2 years later. The site’s growing popular-
  a thing of the past.                                   These video clips, which only last up to ity also poses a challenge to continuously
                                                    one and a half minutes, have been opti- improve its content—keeping it highly in-

member to pull water
                                                    mized for online viewing.                      formative and interactive; and making it
                                                         The full videos are normally available as relevant, up-to-date, and accessible to
                                                    in PAL VHS and NTSC VHS formats. All all users.

                                                                                                                    July–August 2003       17
                                        David Kruger
                                                       The Rural Microfinance
                                                       Project aims to give poor
                                                       women an opportunity to
                                                       make a new start by provid-
                                                       ing small loans to some
                                                       270,000 households

                                                       By David Kruger
                                                       External Relations Specialist

                                                       KOLAHARUWA, SUNSARI DISTRICT, NEPAL
                                                                       ow would a $40 loan change
                                                                       your life? For Sabitra Karna,
                                                                       such a loan transformed her
                                                                       hardscrabble existence into
                                                                       a future filled with new hopes
                                                       and possibilities.
                                                           Three years ago, Ms. Karna joined the
                                                       Ram Janaki Women Centre in Kolaharuwa
                                                       Village on the plains of Sunsari District in
                                                       eastern Nepal. She borrowed 3,000 Nepali
                                                       rupees ($39) and bought two calves.
                                                           After raising the calves, she sold them
                                                       for 5,000 Nepali rupees ($65) and used the
                                                       profits to care for her three children and
                                                       build a small hut on borrowed land.
                                                           Her loan repaid, her confidence strength-
                                                       ened, and her creditworthiness established,
MOBILE Access to credit
                                                       Ms. Karna is now thinking big.
is a key benefit of
microfinance programs                                      “I have applied for a loan of 12,000 ru-
in which the bank                                      pees,” she said with pride after a recent

travels to the poor                                    meeting of her microfinance group. “I want
                                                       to start trading, run a small provisions store,
                                                       and build a house.”
                                                           Ms. Karna’s experience is being repeated
                                                       across southern Nepal through the Rural
                                                       Microfinance Project, funded largely by a

                                                       $20 million loan from the Asian Develop-
                                                       ment Bank’s (ADB) Asian Development
                                                       Fund, a lending window for its least devel-
                                                       oped member countries.
                                                           “We have found that before joining the

                                                       groups, the people had no land, no house, no
                                                       cow, no goat,” says Fanilal Chaudhary,
                                                       Deputy Director of the Nepal Rural Devel-
                                                       opment Society Centre in Biratnagar, east-
                                                       ern Nepal. “After 2–3 years with the group,
                                                       they have their own land, a house, some live-


                                                       Slowdown Hurts Poor Women
                                                       These are major achievements. Nepal is one
                                                       of the least developed countries in the world
                                                       and poverty is a pervasive, persistent prob-
                                                       lem with about 40% of the population liv-

18                   July–August 2003
ing below the poverty line. In 2002, the

                                                David Kruger
economy contracted 0.6%, posting its worst
performance in 2 decades as domestic secu-
rity problems hit the important tourism
sector and an irregular monsoon hurt agri-
cultural production. With the slowdown
squeezing government finances, the amount
of funds spent on development fell 40%
below the 2002 target.
    With less money for new programs, efforts
like the Rural Microfinance Project, which
targets poor women in rural areas, become
increasingly important.
    Rural areas in Nepal, and particularly
poor women living in those areas, are inad-
equately served by financial, technical, and
social services. For many women, that reality
has led to a life of sharecropping that sees
                                                                                                                                         NEW LIVES Small loans have
50% of their output paid to landowners, or a
                                                                                                                                         brought Sabitra Karna (left) and
constant struggle to repay moneylenders or
                                                                                                                                         Jam Bati Devi Mehta (right)
lose what little they own.                                                                                                               opportunity and the prospect
    The Project aims to give women in such                                                                                               of a self-sufficient future

situations an opportunity to start anew by
providing small loans to some 270,000
                                                                      I have applied for a loan of 12,000 rupees.
    “Microfinance depends on the principle
that each person has skills and, given the
chance, can use them to build their own
                                                                   I want to start trading, run a small                                                  “
independence,” says Shankar Man Shrestha,                          provisions store, and build a house
Chief Executive Officer of the Rural Micro-                                                                                    Sabitra Karna, borrower
finance Development Center, the agency
implementing the project. “Even a small                        says that’s much better than the 60% local
                                                                                                               David Kruger

credit can bring tremendous benefits in                        landlords charge. As an added benefit, the
people’s lives.”                                               Project requires no collateral.
                                                                   The average loan at the Kolaharuwa
Providing Access to Credit                                     group is 10,760 Nepali rupees ($140) and
Ms. Karna’s group in Kolaharuwa demon-                         most women use the funds to buy and raise
strates both the need for greater access to                    livestock or purchase vegetables to resell at
funds and the opportunities that access                        local bazaars.
can bring. The village is far from any com-                        Jam Bati Devi Mehta is now paying off
mercial bank, and there is no public trans-                    her second loan. After repaying a 5,000
portation available. Access to an urban                        Nepali rupee ($65) credit earlier this year,
center comes only at the end of an hour-                       she borrowed another 10,000 Nepali rupees
long walk. Two thirds of the 35 group                          ($130) to expand her vegetable trading busi-
members own no land and most are illit-                        ness. She buys vegetables from farmers,
erate, making the prospect of borrowing                        carries them to local markets, and sells them
from a bank difficult.                                         for a small profit—enough to make her loan
    The Project overcomes these daunting                       payments, help feed her family, and buy a
challenges by bringing the bank to the vil-                    small plot of land.
lage. Every 2 weeks, a representative from                         For Ms. Karna, Ms. Devi Mehta, and

the Nepal Rural Development Society Cen-                       thousands of other poor women across
tre visits the village to give loans, collect                  Nepal, microfinance is about much more
payments, and take deposits.                                   than money—it is about opportunity and
                                                                                                                                 Access is almost more
    “Instead of the poor coming to the bank,
in microfinance, the bank goes to the door-
                                                                   “The key thing is access to credit,” says                  important to rural households
step of the poor,” says Mr. Shrestha.
    This raises the cost of administering the
                                                               Richard Vokes, ADB Country Director for
                                                               Nepal. “Access is almost more important to
                                                                                                                              than the cost of borrowing
                                                                                                                                                       Richard Vokes,
loans and, therefore, the interest rate. Ms.                   rural households than the cost of borrowing.
                                                                                                                                        ADB Country Director for Nepal
Karna paid interest of 24% on her loan, but                    It is availability that is critical.”

                                                                                                                                             July–August 2003       19

New Funding                                                                                                     Tripartite Framework
                                                                                                                Comes to Cambodia

Source for NGOs A
                                                                                                                          DB organized a workshop on
                                                                                                                          the new ADB-Government-
                                                                                                                          NGO Framework in Phnom
                                                                                                                Penh, on 5–7 May. ADB staff and civil
A landmark fund will support NGO poverty reduction activities                                                   society representatives reviewed the
                                                                                                                Framework’s recommendations, and de-
and serve as the basis for a larger, long-term assistance window                                                veloped specific proposals for increased
                                                                                                                tripartite cooperation. Proposals focused
By Grant Curtis                                  strated track record in implementing small-                    on increased NGO involvement in ADB-
NGO Specialist                                   scale development projects. Qualified                          assisted activities, capacity building for

                                                 NGOs may submit proposals to a maximum                         Cambodian NGOs, and expanded NGO-
           he Asian Development Bank             ceiling of $50,000 per country, with no single                 Government collaboration. For more in-
           (ADB) recently approved a             project larger than $20,000. Due to the lim-                   formation, contact Srey Chanthy at
           $500,000 regional technical assis-    ited amount of funding, a particular theme            Or go to http://
           tance (RETA) to fund project ac-      or sector will be selected for each DMC par-         
tivities that are designed and implemented       ticipating in the RETA.                                        2003/carm200301.asp
by nongovernment organizations (NGOs) to             The RETA is financed through the Pov-
reduce poverty and improve cooperation           erty Reduction Cooperation Fund, with                          Access to Financial
among ADB, governments, and NGOs.                financial assistance from the Government
                                                                                                                Services for Poor Tajiks

    “This RETA represents a landmark de-         of the United Kingdom.
velopment in ADB relations with civil soci-          The NGO Center will have overall re-                                DB’s Microfinance Systems De-
ety,” says Jan P. M. van Heeswijk, Director      sponsibility for implementing the RETA,                                 velopment Program will pro-
General, Regional and Sustainable Devel-         working in close collaboration with ADB’s                               vide poor households and small
opment Department. “The regional tech-           regional departments and participating resi-                   enterprises in Tajikistan with easier and
nical assistance gives ADB greater flexibility   dent missions. Experience gained during the                    more reliable access to financial services.
and additional resources to support innova-      RETA’s implementation will contribute to                       The Program consists of a policy loan
tive NGO activities that complement our          the design of a larger, long-term assistance                   and investment loan—each for $4 mil-
poverty reduction efforts at the country         window to support NGO poverty reduction                        lion—and a technical assistance grant
level.”                                          activities.                                                    from ADB’s Japan Special Fund for
    The RETA will fund a limited number              Over the next several months, the NGO                      $640,000. The project will select at least
of NGO-designed and -implemented project         Center will study potential funding and con-                   two NGO programs and transform them
activities that are of strategic importance      trol mechanisms that will allow NGOs to                        into deposit-taking microfinance insti-
to ADB’s poverty reduction activities in         directly access ADB funding, a key recom-                      tutions. For details, contact Tom Moyes
eligible developing member countries             mendation of ADB’s Medium-Term Strat-                          at, or visit http://
(DMCs); support NGO engagement in stra-          egy as well as the recently adopted road map         
tegic poverty-related discussions with ADB       for tripartite cooperation, “ADB-Govern-                       2003/nr2003090.asp
and governments; and build the capacity of       ment-NGO Cooperation: A Framework for
local NGOs to help them work with ADB            Action, 2003–2005.”                                            New Fund to Promote
and governments in the context of ADB’s
operations in the Asia and Pacific region.       The RETA paper is available at http://                         Gender Equality

    To be eligible for funding, an NGO must      w w w. a d b . o r g / D o c u m e n t s / T A R s / R E G /            DB has approved the establish-
be a nonprofit organization legally registered   To read the framework document, go to http://
                                                                                                                         ment of a Gender and Develop-
in an eligible DMC, with a proper account-       w w w. a d b . o r g / N G O s / Fr a m e w o r k /                     ment Cooperation Fund to help
ing and financial system, and a demon-           final_framework.pdf                                            carry out its gender and development
                                                                                                                policy and action plan by promoting

                                                                                                                gender equality and women’s empow-
                                                                                                                erment in Asia and the Pacific. The gov-
         The regional technical assistance gives ADB greater                                 “                  ernments of Canada, Denmark, and
     flexibility and additional resources to support innova-                                                    Norway have made initial contributions
                                                                                                                totaling $4.2 million. For more informa-
     tive NGO activities that complement our poverty                                                            tion, contact Shireen Lateef at
     reduction efforts at the country level                                                           , or go to http://
                                                                 Jan P. M. van Heeswijk               
                   Director General, Regional and Sustainable Development Department                            2003/nr2003069.asp

20                    July–August 2003
Cooperating to Combat Dust and                                                                           a web site to chart progress on the issue.
                                                                                                             “Many factors contribute to dust and

Sandstorms in Northeast Asia
                                                                                                         sandstorms,” notes Mr. Fei. “The problem
                                                                                                         is aggravated by droughts and natural disas-
                                                                                                         ters. However, human activity has made the
$500,000 technical assistance grant from the Japan Special Fund                                          situation worse over the last few decades,
                                                                                                         through overgrazing, reclamation, deforesta-
By Graham Dwyer                                        same amount from the Global Environment           tion, and overexploitation of water resources,

External Relations Specialist                          Facility (GEF).                                   which have all added to land degradation and
                                                            This technical assistance is linked to the   caused rapid desertification.”
                  ust and sandstorms, part of          PRC-GEF Partnership on Land Degradation               PRC statistics indicate that back in the
                  life in Northeast Asia for           in Dryland Ecosystems, a 10-year program-         1950s, dust and sandstorms occurred only
                  thousands of years, have in-         matic approach endorsed by the GEF Coun-          about five times per year.
                  creased in frequency, inten-         cil in Beijing in mid-October 2002.                   This rose to eight times per year during
                  sity, and geographical reach              The project will be carried out in coop-     the 1960s, 14 in the 1970s, and 23 times in
over the last half century.                            eration with the four countries most affected     the 1990s. In 2001, the region experienced
    Strong winds from Siberia pick up dust             by the problem—PRC, Japan, Republic of            32 dust and sandstorms, the most severe one
and fine sand particles from the ground—               Korea, and Mongolia, and three UN agen-           in decades occurring in early 2002.
mostly in the desert and semidesert areas of           cies: Economic and Social Commission for              “Hundreds of millions of people have felt
the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and               Asia and the Pacific, United Nations Con-         the impact of dust and sandstorms on their
Mongolia—and carry them in a vast cloud                vention to Combat Desertification, and            living standards, health, and wealth,”
over long distances and across boundaries.             United Nations Environment Programme.             Mr. Fei says.
    In their wake, they wreak environmen-
tal and economic havoc and sometimes re-                    STOPPING THE SANDS
sult in deaths. For example, in May 1993, a                 Researchers are
                                                            experimenting with
dust and sandstorm hit 1.1 million square
                                                            new technologies to
kilometers of the PRC, leaving 85 dead,                     keep back the desert
246 injured, 4,412 houses destroyed, 12,000
livestock dead or lost, and 373,000 hectares
of cropland damaged. At current exchange
rates, the direct economic cost amounted
to the equivalent of $66 million.
    Last year, severe dust and sandstorms
swept across Mongolia and 18 provinces of
the PRC, as well as the Korean Peninsula
and a large part of Japan.
    Schools in the Republic of Korea were
closed and flights were canceled to airports
in Ulaanbaatar and Seoul. Satellite images
                                                 Ian Gill

and analysis of dust samples reveal
that the impacts were felt even
across the Pacific Ocean in North
America.                                        Hundreds of millions of people have                                                        “
    “It is a transboundary problem
that requires an international effort
                                          felt the impact of dust and sandstorms on
to find a solution,” says Yue Fei,        their living standards, health, and wealth
ADB Programs Officer. “A regional                                                                          Yue Fei, ADB Programs Officer
cooperation mechanism must be
established among the most affected coun-                  The project will work toward a regional           “Regional cooperation will ensure that
tries so the problem can be addressed in a             institutional framework to facilitate inter-      national and international initiatives will
coordinated way.”                                      national policy and operational coordination      have maximum impact to arrest deteriora-
    At the request of the governments of the           among major stakeholders at a regional level.     tion of the land, before the situation becomes
PRC and Mongolia, ADB has approved a                       It will draw up a master plan, including      irreversible.”
technical assistance project to promote re-            a regional monitoring program and early               The technical assistance is due for
gional cooperation on prevention and con-              warning network for dust and sandstorms,          completion around June 2004, with ADB
trol of dust and sandstorms. It is funded              an investment strategy, and identification        acting as the executing agency.
by an ADB grant of $500,000 from the                   of demonstration projects in both the PRC
Japan Special Fund, financed by the Gov-               and Mongolia to deal with the issue. The          Read the full TA paper at
ernment of Japan, and cofinancing for the              project secretariat is also planning to launch    Documents/TARs/REG/tar_oth36267.pdf

                                                                                                                            July–August 2003        21
                                                                                                              PRO-POOR Bhaktapur in Nepal
                                                                                                              is a striking example of a
                                                                                                              destination where the poor
                                                                                                              benefit from tourist revenues

                                                                          The fast-growing Asian
                                                                          tourism industry should

                                                                                                                                            Madhup Mangal Shrestha
                                                                          enlist the help of the urban
                                                                          poor—particularly women
By Gulfer Cezayirli
Senior Urban Development Specialist

Social Sectors Division, Mekong Department

               dopting programs that enlist
               the help of the urban poor
               in promoting tourism is an
               emerging instrument of
               poverty reduction. Despite
                                              MORE THAN SIGHT-SEEING
the outbreak of the severe acute respira-     major contributor to its economic recovery       skills, which the poor can easily acquire, are
tory syndrome (SARS), the Asia and            in 1999, accounting for 9.2% of GDP. In          sufficient. Most importantly, women are
Pacific region is the world’s fastest grow-   Thailand, tourism has been the largest           potentially the greatest beneficiaries.
ing tourism destination with annual           source of foreign exchange earnings since            Urban tourism can also be an effective
growth rates ranging between 11% and          1982.                                            means to enhance civic awareness of the
14%. In 11 of the 12 countries that account                                                    environment and a city’s cultural heritage,
for 80% of the world’s poor, tourism          Tapping Tourism to Reduce Poverty                which, in turn, can inculcate a sense of iden-
contributes significantly to the economy.     Urban centers in these countries are also        tity and civic pride, and promote social
Seven of these 12 countries are in Asia:      popular tourist destinations. Some are gate-     cohesion.
Bangladesh, People’s Republic of China,       ways to natural wonders in the rural hinter-         Managing urban tourism requires en-
India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, and        land. Others are cultural melting pots           lightened city managers and planners, and
Philippines.                                  offering sights, sounds, cuisine, shopping,      smart partnerships between the public sec-
   In the Mekong subregion, tourism is a      and night life.                                  tor and the tourism industry.
major source of many people’s livelihood.         Properly planned and managed, urban              Uncontrolled tourism growth can strain
The tourism sector accounts for 9.7% of       tourism can be a significant tool for pro-poor   city infrastructure and services, damage
gross domestic product (GDP) in the Lao       urban development. It is labor-intensive and     cultural assets, and impact negatively on
People’s Democratic Republic and 6.7% in      a recognized job creator. It does not require    the poor, especially women. Maximizing
Viet Nam. In Cambodia, tourism was a          high academic skills. Vocational and basic       benefits and minimizing the downside are

22                       July–August 2003
                                                                                                                      URBAN POVERTY
crucial to expanded urban tourism.
    The key lies in having an entrepreneur-
ial spirit that views the city as a tourism
                                                               Properly planned and managed,
destination, mainstreams tourism into ur-
ban planning and management, and
                                                               urban tourism can be a significant tool
involves the poor in managing the cities’
tourism attractions, including its cultural
                                                               for pro-poor urban development
    Cities need to offer visitors a high-quality
experience. This will require improving ur-
ban infrastructure, services, and safety; and
getting host communities to participate in
designing and offering tourism products and
    Safeguards for environmental protection
and cultural sensitivity should also be de-
veloped and enforced, together with effec-
tive land use planning, zoning, and
regulation. Most importantly, a sensitive
balance between destination marketing and
destination preparedness needs to be main-

Catalyzing Pro-Poor Tourism
Ensuring the success of pro-poor urban tour-
ism at the local level, however, needs to be
supported by a wider policy framework at
the national level. This would offer comple-
mentary national investment strategies,
strengthen coordination among ministries                                                                       BIG ATTRACTION Thailand’s Sukhothai
                                                   Myo Thant

and local governments, and provide incen-                                                                      draws thousands of visitors each year—
tives to get urban governments and private                                                                     could the poor benefit more from tourism?
enterprises involved.

                                                                                                          News for NGOs
    Getting the urban poor involved in pro-               Republic, are cities that have incorporated
moting and managing their cities’ tourism                 tourism in their urban management and

products will also require the participation              growth strategies. Both cities have demon-
of nongovernment and community-based                      strated a marked propensity for showcasing                  ver half of ADB projects involve
organizations, and tourism industry leaders.              their cultural legacy to enhance their tour-                nongovernment organizations
    A deep and widespread awareness of the                ism appeal for the benefit of their citizens,               (NGOs) in some way, from pro-
need to involve the poor by making the best               especially the poor.                            viding input on proposed loans to serv-
use of local skills, labor, and supplies needs                Cottage industries that produce local       ing as implementing agencies.
to be developed and sustained.                            handicrafts have mushroomed, the cities’        Partnership Newsletter keeps NGOs
    Bhaktapur in Nepal is a striking ex-                  physical environments have improved, and        informed of developments in and
ample of a well-preserved, environmentally                expanded tourism has meant jobs for the         around ADB. Published six times a year
clean, and well-managed tourist destina-                  poor.                                           and distributed by e-mail, Partnership
tion, where the poor benefit from tourist                     ADB is well-positioned to promote pro-      reports on new ADB technical assistance
revenues. Tourism and heritage manage-                    poor tourism as a key ingredient of urban       and loan activities, the latest documents
ment has been mainstreamed into mu-                       development and renewal. Its policies of        and publications, draft policies open to
nicipal management and urban planning.                    sound environmental management, com-            public comment, training opportunities,
The municipality introduced a system to                   munity participation, and decentraliza-         and conferences and seminars of inter-
raise revenues from tourism for urban                     tion—coupled with its support for               est to civil society in the Asia and Pacific
upgrading, cultural heritage reinforce-                   broad-based urban development—are               region.
ment, and community development. The                      conducive to catalyzing pro-poor tourism              To subscribe, simply send an e-mail
poor have gained visibly from the positive                as part of the Asia and Pacific region’s ef-    to with “sub-
tourism impact in Bhaktapur.                              fort to reduce urban poverty, promote so-       scribe” in the subject line. Previous
    Likewise, Hue, the ancient capital of                 cial equity, and enhance heritage               i s s u e s a r e a v a i l a b l e a t h t t p : //
Viet Nam, and Luang Prabang, the former                   management. It is a challenging task—but
capital of the Lao People’s Democratic                    achievable.                                     NGO_Newsletters.

                                                                                                                                July–August 2003             23
Cooperation makes good sense for the Central Asian republics: opening borders, harmonizing
trade, and collaborating on the use of common natural resources can bring huge benefits
By David Kruger                                    Uzbekistan was home to a large aircraft
                                                   manufacturing industry.                                    FUTURE DIRECTIONS The real power to
External Relations Specialist

                                                                                                              promote change for the good of future
                                                       This division of labor made sense as part
                                                                                                              generations lies with the region’s leaders
           ince the collapse of the Soviet         of a larger plan set out by Moscow. “But the
          Union in 1991, the Central Asian         industries have no economic rationale now,”
          countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz          says Geert H.P.B. van der Linden, Special
          Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmen-           Advisor to the ADB President. “They cannot
istan, and Uzbekistan, as well as Azerbaijan       compete in the world market.”
in the Caucasus region, have struggled to              As the countries of the region complete
build new nations and overcome the eco-            the transition from centrally planned econo-
nomic shock of sudden independence.                mies to market economies, they will need
    After more than a decade of painful eco-       to identify outlets for their products and
nomic restructuring, the region is growing         services beyond their domestic markets, says
again. Now, with the improved security situ-       Mr. van der Linden.
ation in Afghanistan, the countries have an            “They have to both work together and
opportunity to set an agenda for strength-         link up with the outside world, and the
ened regional cooperation and expanded in-         outside world in all directions—north to
ternational links that could lead to more          Russia, east to the People’s Republic of
trade, increased growth, and less poverty.         China, south to Afghanistan and the Indian
    “The threat of instability in Afghanistan      subcontinent, and west toward Turkey and
had been a major reason for border closings in     the Caucasus,” he says.
the region, the tightening of control over tran-       ADB has been working with its mem-
sit and traffic, and intermittent and unpre-       bers in Central Asia to promote regional
dictable disruption of road and rail transport,”   cooperation since 1997. In March 2002, just
says Lan Wu, head of the Asian Development         5 months after the fall of the Taliban, ADB
Bank’s (ADB) Central Asia Regional Eco-            organized the first Ministerial Conference
nomic Cooperation Unit. “The recent devel-         on Central Asia Regional Economic Coop-
opments in Afghanistan open a historic             eration.
window of opportunity for the countries of             Delegations from Azerbaijan, People’s
Central Asia to improve cooperation and de-        Republic of China, India, Kazakhstan,
                                                                                                   Ian Gill

velop better ties with neighboring states.”        Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan,
    The logic of regional cooperation is clear.    Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan
Central Asia is a vast, isolated, and sparsely     attended the meeting and reaffirmed the                    By opening their borders,
populated region characterized by small            importance of regional cooperation in Cen-                 harmonizing trade and
domestic markets, limited trade links, and         tral Asia with an emphasis on the energy,
weak infrastructure. By opening their bor-         trade, and transportation sectors.                         customs regulations, and
ders, harmonizing trade and customs regu-              In 2002, ADB approved loans totaling                   working together on
lations, and working together on energy            more than $320 million to Central Asian
production and the use of natural resources,       countries to finance infrastructure projects,              energy production and
the countries can improve efficiency, boost        improve intraregional trade, strengthen                    the use of natural
trade, and create jobs and opportunities.          policy integration in various sectors, and
                                                   support regional cooperation.                              resources, the countries
Identifying New Trade Outlets                          ADB also resumed its operations in                     can improve efficiency,
During the Soviet era, each now-indepen-           Afghanistan after a 23-year absence with a
dent state was charged with separate res-          $150 million loan to support government                    boost trade, and create
ponsibilities: the Kyrgyz Republic was a           policy reforms, infrastructure investment,                 jobs and opportunities
center for testing submarines, for example;        and capacity building.

24                          July–August 2003
                                                                                                                          CENTRAL ASIA
Powering the Region                                     mies of South Asia has moved into high gear.          “Many have pursued initial policies to
Two ongoing projects clearly demonstrate                    In February, the steering committee for       emphasize their independence and have
the potential of regional cooperation and the           the $2.5 billion project agreed to invite India   since realized that many of these are
impact of greater security in Afghanistan.              to join the operation as both a customer and      economically highly inefficient and that
    Under the Regional Power Transmission               an investor. ADB is helping fund route sur-       you have to cooperate,” says Mr. van der
Modernization Project, ADB will lend                    veys, basic design, cost estimates, financial     Linden.
Tajikistan and Uzbekistan a total of $90                analyses, and environment and social im-              This realization is slowly taking hold
million to promote regional trade in energy.            pact assessments for the pipeline.                as economies stabilize and countries
    The Central Asian power grid links                      “This is a pioneering project that has        progress in their transition from centrally
83 power plants with a total installed ca-              great potential for promoting stability and       planned economies to market economies.
pacity of 25,000 megawatts in southern                  improving living standards in South and           ADB is supporting greater cooperation by
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan,                Central Asia,” says Seethapathy Chander,          financing improved transportation net-
Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.                           Director, Infrastructure Finance Division,        works, integration and harmonization of
    But since 1991, power trade has fallen              Private Sector Operations Department.             customs and trade regulations, and tech-
by 80% as each country focused on achieving                                                               nical training of government officials who
power self-sufficiency, says Sean O’Sullivan,           Promoting Regional Cooperation                    will guide and drive the development of
ADB Country Director in Uzbekistan. “This               The benefits of regional economic inte-           closer regional links.
has resulted in some republics generating               gration can be great, as these projects dem-          But the real power to promote change
electricity from expensive fossil fuels rather          onstrate. But the obstacles to deeper             lies with the region’s leaders, says Mr. van
than importing surplus power from neigh-                cooperation are also large.                       der Linden. “To develop the great poten-
bors with renewable, lower-cost hydropower                  Since gaining independence, the govern-       tial of the region,” he says, “will require
sources,” he says.                                      ment in each new Central Asian state has          an enormous effort and a lot of political
    A recent ADB study of the potential ben-            focused on building a country from the ground     will.”
efits of power trade found that an integrated           up and proving they are a viable entity. While
regional system designed to maximize use                understandable, this approach has some-           For more on cooperation in Central Asia, go to
of huge hydropower resources available in               times worked against regional cooperation.

the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan and the
immense fossil fuel reserves of Kazakhstan,
Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan could lead
to savings of between $25 million and                              Many [Central Asian republics] pursued initial
$30 million a year by 2011.
    The study also found that economies of
scale created by regional trade and the effi-
cient pooling of existing generating capac-
                                                            policies to emphasize their independence and have
                                                            since realized that many of these are economically
ity in neighboring countries would reduce
                                                            highly inefficient and that you have to cooperate
the need for new capacity and result in fixed                                                                        Geert H.P.B. van der Linden
                                                                                                           Special Advisor to the ADB President
cost savings of about $40 million per year
by 2011.
    A second energy-related initiative will
link Central Asia to the massive markets of
South Asia. Plans for a Turkmenistan-
Afghanistan-Pakistan natural gas pipeline
have been on the table for a decade but
action had always been stalled by political
uncertainties in the region.
    “With the sudden, very rapid change in
Afghanistan, there is now the prospect of
not just cooperating with Afghanistan but
also beyond it to the large markets of South
Asia and access to the Indian Ocean,” says
Mr. van der Linden.
    With the improved security situation
in Afghanistan, preparatory work for an
ADB-backed 1,700-kilometer pipeline ca-
pable of transporting up to 20 billion cubic                OPPORTUNITY Strengthened regional
meters of natural gas annually from the                     cooperation and expanded international
Dauledtabad fields in southeast Turkme-                     links could lead to more trade, more
                                                 Ian Gill

                                                            growth, and less poverty
nistan to consumers in energy-deficit econo-

                                                                                                                             July–August 2003        25
Cleaning the Air
Supat Wangwongwatana, Chair of the Clean Air Initiative for
Asian Cities, says the region’s megacities need comprehen-
sive and integrated programs to improve air quality
By David Kruger                                    done some studies in Bangkok on health

External Relations Specialist                      effects, and we found that we have to pay a
                                                   lot of money to cure people who get sick
                  ir pollution kills almost half   because of air pollution. And there are a lot
                  a million Asians every year.     of premature deaths in the city. You might
                  As the region’s cities con-      imagine that if those people lived longer,
                  tinue to expand and vehicles     they could contribute more to society. But
                  proliferate, the need for ac-    they have a shorter life because of air pollu-
tion to improve air quality grows each day.        tion, and every year the country will have to
Effective technology to control air pollution      pay a lot of money for medical care given to
is available and in use throughout Europe          sick people because of air pollution. Many
and North America. It is time for Asians to        people are affected by air pollution in their
realize that air pollution is a serious prob-      respiratory system or through cardiovascular
lem; it affects the livelihoods of millions of     disease. We expect to see more people having
people and controlling it will require every-      asthma attacks in the city and also allergies
one to act.                                        to air pollution. One of the common prob-
    Supat Wangwongwatana chairs the Clean          lems that we found in cities in Asia is par-
Air Initiative for Asian Cities, a group formed    ticulate matter. We used to have problems
by the Asian Development Bank and the              with blood lead levels. Lately, because of
World Bank that seeks to improve the qual-         the phasing out of leaded gasoline in Asia,
ity of the air all Asians breathe. He spoke        we have found a reduction in blood lead          to happen in other cities in Asia also because
with David Kruger. Excerpts:                       levels. That really provides a lot of health     they are starting to have vehicles using cata-
                                                   benefits. But today we are still facing a par-   lytic converters. But some cities might have
Q: Why is the air quality in so many               ticulate problem.                                worse air pollution in the near future because
Asian cities so bad?                                                                                they are developing rapidly, especially Hanoi
A: It’s because of urbanization and the            Q: Is air quality getting better or worse        or cities in the Lao People’s Democratic
growth of the population and the vehicle           in Asia?                                         Republic or Cambodia. They are developing,
population in the cities. That is the major        A: Some cities have better air quality today.    and there are more and more vehicles on the
source of air pollution in the city—millions       For example, in Bangkok we have better air       streets in cities. They will face problems in
of vehicles every day emitting a huge amount       quality today than 10 years ago. The lead        the future if they do not plan well now.
of pollutants into the air. That seriously         level in the ambient air is now reduced by
damages the quality of air.                        more than 95%, and this is also happening        Q: But as you mentioned, the experi-
                                                   in other cities in Asia as they start to phase   ence in Bangkok shows it’s possible to
Q: What types of health problems and               out leaded gasoline. We have also reduced        reduce pollution even as more and
financial costs are associated with bad            carbon monoxide, which comes mainly from         more cars come onto the road, if the
air?                                               gasoline engines, by having catalytic con-       right measures are taken.

A: Huge, huge amounts of money. We have            verters installed in vehicles. This is going     A: Yes, that’s true. The number of vehicles
                                                                                                    in Bangkok keeps increasing but we see an
                                                                                                    opposite trend in air pollution indicators
                                     If you are able to                                             because of the measures that have been
                                                                                                    implemented. But it will come to a point
                                reduce air pollution,                                               where if the number of cars keeps on increas-

                                the benefit-to-cost ratio
                                                                          “                         ing, the pollution will come back again. So
                                                                                                    it’s not only making the fuel clean or the
                                                                                                    vehicle clean, but you also have to try to
                                is very, very high
 Eric Sales

                                                                                                    limit the number of vehicles in the city, and
                                                                                                    that will be achieved by promoting the use
                                                                                                    of mass rapid transit systems.

26                          July–August 2003
                                                                                                                straint is investment. Most governments
                                                                                                                have other things to do, other things to fund
                                                                                                                to develop the country.

                                                                                                                Q: How do you explain to people who
                                                                                                                are breathing bad air why oil and car
                                                                                                                companies aren’t selling the same
                                                                                                                quality products in Asia as in Europe
                                                                                                                or North America?
                                                                                                                A: This is the question that I ask industry
                                                                                                                also. You can make cleaner cars and sell them
                                                                                                                in the US and Europe. Why can’t you make
                                                                                                                them for Thailand or the Philippines or

                                                                                                                Indonesia? They always say that if you want
                                                                                                                us to make cars as good as those sold in the

            There is a lot of                                                                                   US or Europe we can do it, but the cars will
                                                                                                                be more expensive for the people of Thai-

        pressure being put                                                                                      land, for the people of Indonesia. There is
                                                                                                                no problem for them to do that. It is just a

        on government                                                                                           matter that the fuel will be more expen-
                                                                                                                sive; the cars will be more expensive. It is

        agencies in every                                                                                       up to each country to set up the legislation

        country to improve
                                                          “                                                     requiring them to improve quality.

                                                                                                                Q: The Clean Air Initiative for Asian

        the quality of air                                                                                      Cities started 3 years ago. Are you
                                                                                                                happy with its progress so far?
                          Supat Wangwongwatana                                                                  A: I think this probably is the most success-

                                                                                                   Eric Sales
     Chair of the Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities
                                                                                                                ful initiative on air quality in the world. We
                                                                                                                have government members, we have private
Q: Aside from phasing out leaded gas                these things in parallel. You cannot do one                 sector members, we have development agen-
and introducing mass transit, what do               and expect to achieve better air quality.                   cies, members from cities. We have mem-
governments need to do to improve air                                                                           bers from all stakeholders whom we involve
quality?                                            Q: What sort of benefits do you see                         in making the air in the region cleaner.
A: You need a comprehensive and integrated          from your efforts in Thailand?
plan to achieve better air quality. You can-        A: Five years after we phased out leaded                    Q: What explains the success?
not achieve better air quality with only one        gasoline, we did a cost-benefit analysis, and               A: I think it’s because the level of polluted
measure. You have to have cleaner fuel, not         we found that the benefit-to-cost ratio is                  air in Asia is making people aware of the
only unleaded gasoline. You have to clean           about 35. It’s very high. If you are able to                problem, aware of how serious it is, and
up both gasoline and diesel fuel. You have to       reduce air pollution, the benefit-to-cost ratio             making them aware of the fact that some-
reduce sulfur in diesel fuel. You have to re-       is very, very high. You will really get benefits            thing needs to be done. There is a lot of
duce benzine and aromatic content in gaso-          from the improved air quality, although you                 pressure being put on government agencies
line. You also have to have new vehicles. You       may not see it in terms of money. You don’t                 in every country to improve the quality of
have to make sure that new vehicles coming          get a financial return. But you get healthier               air.
onto the streets emit less and less pollutants.     people who can produce more. You have fewer
You have to control the emissions from in-          sick people. You spend less on medical care.                Q: In 5 years, will the air quality in Asian
use vehicles because once they are on the                                                                       cities be better or worse than now?
road and used daily, they will become a pol-        Q: Given these benefits and the fact                        A: It will be better. From what I see, most
luting source. This can be controlled by an         that no one wants to breathe bad air,                       cities in Asia are now implementing some
inspection and maintenance program. You             what is holding back greater progress?                      measures to lower emissions or have plans
have to have good traffic flow, and traffic         A: I think it is the lack of investment. To                 up to the year 2010 to implement measures.
management to reduce congestion. When               improve fuel quality, you need a lot of in-                 If they do that, I am quite confident it will
you have really congested traffic, cars will        vestment in the private sector. To produce                  bring down the level of air pollution in the
emit the most pollutants. So if you have            better cars, you also need a lot of invest-                 region. But it will take time. It will not hap-
good traffic flow in the city, you have lower       ment by the private sector. To reduce traf-                 pen tomorrow; it will not happen next year.
emissions. You also need fewer vehicles on          fic, there will need to be investment from                  In the case of Thailand, we spent the last
the road. This is a kind of comprehensive           the government to implement the mass or                     10 years to get to where we are now. And we
and integrated plan and you need to do              public transport system. I think the con-                   still have pollution problems in the city.

                                                                                                                                    July–August 2003       27

                                                                                                                                     Carolyn Dedolph
SHOW TIME! Children in a rural school in Mongolia anxiously wait to perform. In recent years, however,
Mongolia’s school system went through rough times with the country’s transition from a centrally planned to a
market economy. With no budget for maintenance, many facilities deteriorated and were closed. This issue of
ADB Review features education success stories from Mongolia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and Pakistan.

Publisher: Robert Salamon
                                                                                              ADB ONLINE
Editor and Layout Artist: Carolyn Dedolph
Assistant Editors: Marcia R. Samson, Chona Murakami
Designer: Ram Cabrera
Graphic Assistants: Keech Hidalgo, Grant Leceta                                                To read ADB Review online, go to
Photo Researcher: Tess Perez                                                         
Advisors: Ann Quon, Ian Gill                                                                   For information, send an e-mail
Distribution: Clemente Matanguihan                                                             to or go to
ADB Review reports on development news from Asia and the Pacific and on the activities         To explore business opportunities
of the Asian Development Bank, which publishes the magazine six times a year. Opinions         with ADB, go to
and materials in ADB Review do not necessarily reflect the official views of ADB. Materials    business/opportunities
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                                                                                                                  ISSN: 0118-8674
28                   July–August 2003

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