MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is strengthening its aid coordination and effectiveness in the Pacific islands through closer interaction with member governments and development partners.

ADB has approved a $1.5 million technical assistance project which aims to enhance the relationship between ADB and the governments, strengthen development partner coordination, and improve ADB's country portfolio performance.

Under the grant, ADB country officers will initiate aid coordination in Samoa, Solomon Islands, and Tonga, as these countries have greater needs over the next three years than other ADB developing member countries in the region.

"The combination of geographic isolation of these countries and the relatively small scale of ADB programs requires creative and innovative approaches to ensure that ADB's assistance is both appropriate and cost-effective, and delivers results on the ground," said Indu Bhushan, Officer-in-Charge of ADB's Pacific Department.

At present, ADB has six technical assistance projects and five loan/grant projects in Samoa; five technical assistance projects, one loan and one grant in Solomon Islands; and five technical assistance projects and one grant in Tonga. ADB has several projects still in the pipeline for the three countries.

The aid harmonization grant coincides with the appointment of new key officials in ADB's Pacific Department.

Mr. Eugene Zhukov has been appointed Regional Director of the Pacific Liaison and Coordination Office (PLCO) in Sydney. Mr. Keith Leonard will join ADB's South Pacific Sub-Regional Office (SPSO) in Suva as Regional Director, while Sirpa Jarvenpaa will return to ADB Headquarters as one of the Directors of the Pacific Department. These changes are scheduled to take effect between late August and early September.

Charles Andrews has taken over the responsibilities and role of Country Director of ADB's Papua New Guinea Resident Mission (PNRM) in Port Moresby, and Laurence Pochard is the new Resident Representative of the Special Liaison Office in Dili, Timor-Leste (SOTL).