CDIA Signs Agreement with KWASA to Advance Sustainable Water Supply in Khulna City

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Lara Arjan, ADB Project Officer in charge of CDIA signed on 9 August 2022 a technical assistance agreement with Md. Abdullah, Managing Director of the Khulna Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (KWASA) to prepare an investment project that will ensure expanded, reliable, and climate-resilient water supply in Khulna City, Bangladesh.  

Under the said agreement, CDIA will undertake a project preparation study (PPS) that will recommend concrete measures for increasing piped water supply to unserved areas and for future population, addressing quality and quantity issues during dry and high salinity seasons, rehabilitating the existing ground wells, and optimizing the management of the water supply system.  

On the other hand, KWASA, the agency responsible for the operation of water supply and sewerage system in Khulna City has pledged in-kind contributions to the PPS, comprising liaison staff, office accommodation, and other information and logistical support.  

The PPS will be the basis for formulating the second phase of the Khulna Water Supply Project (KWSP), pipelined for Asian Development Bank (ADB) financing.  

Khulna is the third largest city in Bangladesh, and its location along the coastal belt make it among the most vulnerable to climate change. Rivers near it are affected by salinity intrusion, made worse by rising sea level. Historically, the city relied entirely on groundwater; and where access to piped water was available, it was scarce, intermittent, and of poor quality.  

KWASA has recently completed the first phase of KWSP that was co-financed by ADB and the Japan International Cooperation Agency. The $323 million investment provided a sustainable water supply system for Khulna through the development of a surface water treatment plant to meet the growing demand of the city while preventing excessive abstraction of groundwater. It was also designed to be climate-proof to reduce water salinity. 

At present, 1.1 million or 74% of the population of Khulna have access to piped water supply. However, 400,000 residents remain unserved, necessitating the identification of additional investments to meet their needs as well as that of the future population. This is the primary objective of the PPS under CDIA and KWASA cooperation. 

The PPS will also identify alternative measures to address the increasing water salinity. It will further explore how the efficiency of Khulna’s ground wells can be improved, and if sustainable ground water sourcing can address the salinity issue in the city.  

Other objectives under the PPS include: 1) identifying ways to enhance the water services through digitalization of customer billing and accounting, and management of non-revenue water; 2) building the technical and financial management capacities of KWASA; and 3) exploring options toward the sustainability of Khulna’s surface water supply system. 

The outputs of the PPS will include feasibility study, updating of the (2011) master plan, and preliminary design documents for the proposed phase 2 of KWSP. It will also include outline financial and economic analysis and safeguards due diligence necessary to facilitate the linkage to downstream ADB financing. It will further include the preparation of an institutional and capacity development road map; and recommendations to address the cause of high salinity during dry seasons in Khulna. 

With the signing of the agreement, CDIA through ADB will proceed with the procurement of a consulting team that will undertake the PPS in partnership with KWASA. 

“We have previously worked with Khulna on transport, waste, and drainage management initiatives, and so, we have a good understanding of its development issues,” said Lara Arjan. “We are committed to delivering a bankable investment project that ADB can finance to secure for Khulna a water supply system that adequately meets the needs of its residents and is resilient enough to climate change and future pandemics.”  

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