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Ford School alum supports efforts to tackle COVID-19 in developing Asia

May 12, 2020

In mid-April, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) announced an enormous $20 billion aid package to help Asian and Pacific developing countries address the negative economic and social impacts of COVID-19. ADB’s point person in North America, Ford School alum Bart Édes (MPP '87), played an active role in coordinating and communicating with American, Canadian and international development agencies to support this major effort.

“ADB has been supporting economic and social development in Asia for more than half a century, but we’ve never mobilized such a large financing package in such a short time. The huge threat to human well-being and economies demanded an ambitious, early response,” said Édes.

Developing countries, such as Afghanistan, Nepal, and Pacific island states, have inadequate medical supplies and health system capacity to fight the pandemic, and their economies and government budgets are under strain. “The disproportionate impact on poor and vulnerable groups - women, children, and youth; older persons; people with disabilities; migrants; and ethnic and caste groups - calls for a range of resilience-building interventions with an explicit focus on these groups,” Édes said.

Much of Édes’ 19-year career at ADB has involved the promotion of good governance, social protection, inclusive business, and poverty reduction. He understands the historic challenge now confronting developing Asia and the Pacific. “The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is having a severe impact on the region’s economies and populations,” Édes observed. “The pandemic has created a far-reaching health, social and economic crisis. Millions are suffering loss of incomes and jobs.”

Édes noted that ADB is targeting urgent needs as well as pandemic recovery, which could last well into this decade. “We want to address the medium- to long-term impact of COVID-19, including adverse effects on people's health, sharp declines in consumption and investment, lower tourism and exports, and disruptions in trade and production,” he said. Édes further explained that much of ADB’s grant and loan package will be used for “countercyclical expenditure financing to help counter the severe macroeconomic impacts stemming from the pandemic.”

With the pandemic battering poorer countries in Asia and the Pacific, Édes and his colleagues are making speedy delivery of financial resources a top priority. “We are working with our developing member countries to make the resources available as soon as possible. By early April we had approved several projects, including three separate loans of $1.5 billion each for India, Indonesia and the Philippines to alleviate the impacts of the pandemic on public health, livelihoods, and the economy.”

Read about ADB’s $20 billion response here: ADB’s Comprehensive Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.


Bart W. Édes has served as the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB’s) Representative in North America since October 2017. In this capacity, he mobilizes financing for ADB’s developing member countries; shares development knowledge and experience; establishes and deepens partnerships with public, private and nonprofit organizations in North America; and raises public awareness of ADB in Canada and the United States.