The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has approved a $385m (€354m) loan to help improve water access in Uzbekistan.

AIIB said the loan will help provide access to safely managed water and sanitation services and strengthen the operational performance of water utility in Uzbekistan’s Bukhara Region.

The investments will help reduce water-related diseases, lower coping costs, increase operational efficiency and enhance water service quality and quantity, the China-backed bank said.

In addition to physical investments, the loan will finance project management and support to assist the implementation agency in ensuring seamless coordination, efficiency and compliance with AIIB’s relevant safeguards policies.

Konstantin Limitovskiy, AIIB VP in charge of investment operations, said: “These investments will improve regional access to safe drinking water and sanitation as well as support the Government of Uzbekistan in addressing its critical financing gap in water supply and sanitation services.

“The project is AIIB’s first loan in the water sector in Uzbekistan and in the central Asia region. It is also aligned with AIIB’s key priority of promoting sustainable infrastructure.”

Headquartered in Beijing, AIIB began operations in January 2016 and has now grown to 102 approved members worldwide.