ISLAMABAD: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) committed $3.32 billion in 2021 to help Pakistan tackle the immediate effects of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and promote a green recovery. The commitment made by the Bank in 2021 includes loans and guarantees, grants, equity investments, and technical assistance provided to governments and the private sector. In addition, ADB also mobilised $2.019 billion in co-financing. According to a report issued by the ADB, $300 million were committed for Balakot Hydropower Development, $372 million for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Cities Improvement, and $5 million were committed for Preparing Kurram Tangi Integrated Water Resources Development Project. In addition to reducing dependence on fossil fuels and increasing energy security, the 300-megawatt, run-of-river hydropower plant in Balakot, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, will boost economic activity and create jobs for local communities. During construction, more than 1,200 workers will be hired and at least 500 community members, including many women, will benefit from skills development programs. Furthermore, the ADB also committed $600 million for Pakistan’s Integrated Social Protection Development Program and $235 million for the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Corridor Development Investment Program – Tranche 2. ADB provided the loan to strengthen and expand social protection programs in Pakistan. The project includes measures to boost access to secondary education for children and adolescents of poor families, especially girls. It will also enhance access to health services and nutrition supplies for impoverished mothers and children in 22 districts. In Pakistan, ADB provided $377.8 million (with an additional $200 million in cofinancing) to assist the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in improving living conditions across five cities. The total financing will enhance water supply, sewerage, and solid waste infrastructure; expand public parks and green spaces; and streamline service delivery and the performance of municipal companies. Through the project,ADB will improve urban life for up to 3.5 million people in the five target cities. The ADB also committed $300 million concessional loan for Pakistan’s Energy Sector Reforms and Financial Sustainability Program, and $500 million concessional loan for COVID-19 Vaccine Support under the Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility. The report added that supporting cleaner, safer travel in Pakistan, a bus rapid transit (BRT) system in Peshawar, Pakistan—made possible by financing from ADB—is breaking records for passenger use and attracting more women to public transport. The Zu Peshawar BRT system features hybrid electric buses and 30 stations along a 27-kilometre (km) corridor that links east to west across the city. Despite restrictions on movement imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ridership of the system reached more than 50 million passengers in 2021, with over 25% of commuters being women and children. The only gold-standard BRT system operating in Pakistan, the Zu Peshawar service prioritises accessibility and security for women, persons with disabilities, and other vulnerable users. Women are provided priority queuing areas on the platform and a dedicated space inside the vehicles. The ADB-supported project also ensured complete urban regeneration along the route, including new energy-efficient streetlights, quality footpaths, drainage systems, and dedicated cycle lanes. It is already improving air quality for Peshawar’s residents due to reduced traffic congestion. Around 150 bus stops are planned across a network of 83 km of direct service routes that connect densely populated communities directly to the system. In 2021, the Zu Peshawar BRT system earned an honourable mention in the prestigious 2022 Sustainable Transport Award. ADB provided a $235 million loan to expand 222 km of National Highway 55 in Pakistan. This will improve transport times along CAREC corridors—which have become congested due to growing traffic volumes between Karachi, Islamabad, and Lahore—recovering substantial economic losses and reducing air and noise pollution.