MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved an $11.3 million grant to improve urban infrastructure in Nuku'alofa, the capital of Tonga, as urbanization and population growth fuel demand for better infrastructure.

The Integrated Urban Development Sector Project will facilitate fully integrated and coordinated urban planning in Tonga, particularly for Nuku'alofa, which accounts for 34% of the national population and is home to 75% of those living in urban areas.

"This Project will help improve living standards in Nuku'alofa, especially in low-income residential areas," said Stephen Blaik, Water Supply and Sanitation Specialist of ADB's Pacific Department. "Urbanization is relatively new in Tonga, but the problems associated with unplanned and uncontrolled development are already being felt."

Around 10 kilometers of primary roads will be repaired, including road drainage, and four kilometers of access roads in low-income residential areas will be constructed. A road maintenance program will also be developed. The project includes rehabilitating existing drains in the central business areas of Nuku'alofa, constructing 2.1 kilometers of flood relief drains, and developing a stormwater drainage maintenance program.

The Government of Tonga will cover the balance of the total estimated cost of $14.22 million for the Project.