MADRID, SPAIN - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has secured US$11.3 billion for the next four-year phase of its concessional development fund to fight poverty in the Asia and Pacific region - a significant jump of over 60% from the previous period.

"The generous contribution of donor nations will help developing Asia-Pacific countries meet Millennium Development Goal targets, and bring better opportunities and a brighter future to people living in the region's poorest nations," ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda said.

The Asian Development Fund (ADF) provides grants and low-interest loans to the Asia and Pacific's poorest countries, which are home to some 400 million people living on less than $2 a day. The new ADF will cover the period of 2009-2012.

Roads, clean water and sanitation, electricity networks and other essential infrastructure that improve the lives of the impoverished and accelerate growth will continue to be a cornerstone of ADF support.

"ADF support is a major source of assistance for countries like Nepal, who are in urgent need of resources to help our poorest citizens," said Nepal Finance Secretary Vidyadhar Mallik. "We appreciate the generosity of the international donor community in significantly increasing ADF resources, and successfully completing ADF negotiations."

ADF negotiations concluded in the Spanish capital on the eve of ADB's 41st Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors in Madrid.

The fund will provide support to further enhance regional cooperation and integration in the Asia and Pacific region. It will continue to support the agriculture sector through the funding of irrigation systems, rural roads and rural finance mechanisms.

"With child malnutrition still widespread in Asia, and the global food crisis threatening to reverse the gains nations have achieved in reducing poverty, support for rural infrastructure and rural finance is critically important," Mr. Kuroda said.

A significant proportion of future ADF resources is also expected to fund education initiatives. "Education is the key to young persons' advancement and nations' development, and an investment today pays off many-fold in the future," President Kuroda said.

The fund will also provide support for climate change mitigation and other environmental measures.

The last replenishment of the ADF, which covered 2005 to 2008, totaled $7 billion.