The Asian Development Bank is known primarily for financing infrastructure projects in the region, a view that has been reinforced by the bank’s most recent multinational survey of stakeholder perceptions.
Not surprisingly, investments in infrastructure comprised the majority of ADB’s spending in 2013. According to its latest annual report, the bank approved $21 billion worth of development financing for the Asia-Pacific region in 2013. Of this, infrastructure projects made up more than 60 percent of investments, most of which were related to energy, transport and ICT.
Spending on education, health and social protection — sectors ADB identified as key to achieving inclusive growth in developing Asia — is significantly lower. Total investment in these sectors constituted less than 7 percent of approved financing in 2013.
ADB does recognize the need to shore up spending on these sectors, and has set targets for education and health in its Strategy 2020. And while 2013 spending remains low, a recently released midterm review confirms investments are steadily reaching their 2020 targets.