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ADB helps fund India's climate fight

Loan guarantee comes amid U.S.-Indian bilateral talks on clean energy.

By Daniel J. Graeber
ADB helps fund India's climate fight
Asian Development Bank said it's offering a loan to India to help mitigate climate risks for a water-stressed delta region in the country. UPI / Heinz Ruckemann | License Photo

MANILA, June 8 (UPI) -- A loan guarantee for India means the water-stressed delta region known as a rice bowl can mitigate some threats from climate change, a regional bank said.

The Asian Development Bank approved a $100 million loan for India to help fortify irrigation and water management systems in the Cauvery delta region, where more than 70 percent of the population relies on fishing and agriculture.

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Manjula Amerasinghe, a regional specialist working for the ADB, said the regional irrigation system is no longer functioning as designed. With climate extremes testing coastal communities like the Cauvery delta, she said there's a pressing need for upgrades.

"This project will support both physical improvements and stronger water management, giving a significant boost to the lives of coastal communities who often go without sufficient irrigation water," she said in a statement.

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The ADB said most of India, one of the world's strongest economies in terms of growth, is in the grips of its worst drought in decades. The drought, the bank said, was triggered in part by extreme weather patterns, but a La Nina weather system that's expected to develop later in the year could bring in record-setting rains and flooding.

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The ADB forecasts that delta areas in India could see rainfall increase by 19 percent and sea levels rise by almost three feet by the end of the century.

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The loan guarantee from the ADB comes as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets in Washington with U.S. President Barack Obama to discuss climate change and other economic issues. A joint statement from the leaders outlined collaborative efforts to move the Paris climate declaration reached last year into force. Both sides created multi-million dollar clean-energy finance regimes during meetings in Washington, D.C.

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