November 26, 2009

Fiji to benefit from ADB - November 26, 2009

Fiji should expect closer engagement with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in the area of development assistance following the launch in Suva of the bank’s Pacific Approach 2010.

The new approach unveiled yesterday will guide the delivery of its development assistance to its 14 Pacific developing member countries (DMCs), including Fiji, the ADB said.

“Most of our Pacific DMCs operate in a fragile and complex environment, characterised by geographical isolation, small populations, weak capacities, limited resource endowments, and high vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters,” said S. Hafeez Rahman, Director General of the ADB’s Pacific Department.

“Through the Pacific Approach, ADB will be able to deliver improved assistance to our Pacific DMCs by establishing greater consensus and ownership of programs and projects. At the same time, we will be able to provide stronger support to governments in the critical areas of strengthening public sector functions, addressing capacity constraints, scaling up private sector participation, expanding regional cooperation and mainstreaming climate proofing,” he added.

Although Fiji has not been able to access ADB’s development assistance for new projects since 2006, it is still engaged with the bank through ongoing projects, including a fourth road upgrade project.

A number of projects were to be funded under the bank’s newly prepared Country Partnership strategy 2007-2011, suspended for Fiji since 2006.

The decision to suspend new lending and non-lending operations is constantly under review, according to ADB’s Suva-based regional director Keith Leonard.

Among other things, the Pacific Approach for 2010–2014 is expected to focus on creating broader consensus for development initiatives, while helping to build up skills among government, NGOs and local communities.

Key areas targeted for assistance in the new approach include strengthening of core government functions, and support for more efficient delivery of public services. Improved access to quality, basic education and better transport, ICT as well as water and sanitation services will also be given top priority.

The inclusion of women in development as well as increased funding for climate-proof and disaster-mitigation programs are also expected to get much attention in ADB’s new approach.

The ADB is actively involved in development work in 14 island nations, including Fiji and has provided cumulative lending of up to US$2 billion to the region, has tripled its contribution to private sector involvement and also expanded regional cooperation and integration efforts.

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