The Asian Development Bank's operations have delivered tangible benefits to the lives of millions of people in Asia and the Pacific over the past four years, while there are several areas needing further improvement at both the project level and within the organization itself, says a new report.

The 2008 Development Effectiveness Review is the second corporate performance study to be conducted by ADB. It taps project completion reports and other data from 2004 to 2008, using a 'scorecard' approach to measure ADB's contribution to development in the region and its overall effectiveness as an organization. ADB is the first multilateral development bank to adopt a comprehensive results system for measuring its performance at the corporate level and to provide clear accountability to stakeholders.

The review measures how well ADB is implementing its long-term strategic framework, Strategy 2020, which targets inclusive and environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. In 2008, over three quarters of all new assistance went to support projects in the five core areas of the Strategy - infrastructure, environment, financial sector development, education, and regional cooperation and integration.

The report shows that ADB's completed operations, evaluated in 2008, delivered significant development gains particularly in the energy, transport and education sectors. It also notes that ADB has sped up and increased the level of its assistance, with funds of $8.8 billion disbursed in 2008, the highest ever annual amount. The report further notes that the design quality of new operations has improved.

"The review confirms that our operations have helped to improve people's lives. More people have gained access to reliable sources of energy, including clean energy, people and goods can travel faster within and between countries, farmers earn more because of better irrigation services and more people, particularly women, now have better access to finance, as do more businesses," said Rajat M. Nag, ADB's Managing Director General.

At the same time, it points out the mixed success rates of projects in some areas such as water and finance. It also highlights room for improvement in the creation and sharing of knowledge products such as research material and project 'best practices' as well as the need for promoting greater gender equality and empowerment of women through its operations.

The report also warns that the global economic crisis is undermining the region's progress in development and poverty reduction, and stresses that ADB will need to play an even greater support role in future.

In response to the review findings, ADB will take action to further improve its business. This will include strengthening its project performance reporting system, boosting cofinancing for its operations, and stepping up efforts to recruit more professional female staff.