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WASHINGTON, June 19, 2007 – The World Bank Board of Executive Directors today approved an IDA grant in the amount of US$16 million for the Second On-Farm Irrigation Project (OIP-2) for the Kyrgyz Republic. The new project will help sustain and further expand the achievements realized under the first On-Farm Irrigation Project, which focused on establishing, training, and supporting Water Users Associations (WUA), in addition to assisting with the rehabilitation and modernization of the irrigation systems. The project will also receive funding from the Kyrgyz Republic in the amount of US$4.55 million.
Agriculture plays a significant role in the economy of the Kyrgyz Republic. Over the past ten years, the sector has amounted consistently to 35-40 percent of GDP and ensured employment for over 50 percent of the country’s working population. The agricultural sector is predominantly characterized by irrigated agriculture, which covers about 1.05 million ha (75 percent of total arable land), rendering irrigated agriculture one of the most important economic sub-sectors of the country.
Sooronbai Jeenbekov, Minister of Agriculture, Water Resources and Processing Industry, said the project will help put the irrigation service delivery on a sustainable basis and will contribute to increased agricultural productivity among farmers. “The Kyrgyz Republic still has, unfortunately, many needs when it comes to rehabilitating and modernizing the irrigation systems,” said Minister Jeenbekov. “This is why the Government has requested continued financial support from the World Bank for about 500 maturing WUAs, which we consider to be important partners for the sustainability of the sub-sector.”
World Bank Country Manager Roger J. Robinson explained that the World Bank has been the principal donor to assist the Kyrgyz Government with developing the irrigation and drainage sub-sector in the past ten years. “We have provided support through a number of projects that have significantly contributed to the recovery of the irrigation sub-sector in the Kyrgyz Republic, both technically and institutionally.”
The Second On-Farm Irrigation Project will be implemented country-wide. It will target some 500 WUAs with further institutional development, and will assist with improving irrigation and drainage systems covering about 51,000 hectares. “The focus of assistance to WUAs under OIP-2 will be directed towards furthering the development of the technical and financial skills required to sustain their infrastructure and maximize its utilization,” said Joop Stoutjesdijk, World Bank Lead Irrigation Engineer in the Kyrgyz Republic. He added that the new project draws on the experience and lessons learned from the first operation and will make use of the institutions and mechanisms that were established under that phase. The Second On-farm Irrigation Project is expected to have a duration of five years, with a starting date in early January 2008.
For more information on the World Bank’s activities in the Kyrgyz Republic, please visit http://www.worldbank.org.kg