BALI, Indonesia: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) announced yesterday it will boost lending to the region's poorest nations by more than $10 billion over two years and warned that the global economic crisis is jeopardising the UN's goal to halve poverty by 2020.
The announcement comes just days after the bank's 67 member countries approved a tripling of its capital to $165bn, expanding its ability to finance infrastructure and other projects aimed at reducing poverty in partnership with the private sector.
Yesterday the bank's president, Haruhiko Kuroda, told an annual meeting in Bali, that loans for Asia's developing nations will rise to $32bn over this and next year from $22bn in the previous two years.
The lending will "assist faltering economies and most importantly, protect the poor from the worst impacts of the crisis," he said.
It includes a $3bn fund that the hardest-hit governments can tap to boost their own fiscal stimulus spending as they battle the downturn.
Activist organisations have not welcomed the bank's bigger firepower, saying ADB-funded projects often harm the very people they aim to help.
"If not managed well, this 200pc general capital increase could easily translate into a more than 200pc increase in social and environmental harm," said NGO Forum on ADB executive director Red Constantino.
Activists highlighted an ADB-backed dam and hydroelectric power scheme in the West Seti region of Nepal, saying it could displace 20,000 people and lead to conflict in resettlement areas that are already heavily populated.