In Islamabad: Shahzad Sharjeel, (92-51) 2279641
In Washington: Erik Nora,(202) 458 4735
WASHINGTON DC, September 18, 2007 ─ The World Bank today approved a US$150.2 million credit to Pakistan to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the irrigation sector in Sindh Province.
The Sindh Water Sector Improvement Project is designed to improve irrigation water distribution in three Area Water Boards (AWBs) ─ Ghotki, Nara and Left Bank ─ focusing on measures of reliability, equity, and user satisfaction. It is expected to help increase agricultural production, employment, and incomes in more than 30 percent of the irrigated area in the province.
Pakistan relies on the largest contiguous irrigation system in the world to provide basic food security. The Indus Basin Irrigation System has converted deserts into arable lands suitable for agriculture. However, this infrastructure is deteriorating and needs rehabilitation along with reforms to improve the allocation of water as well as the efficiency of its use.
Sindh is one of the primary beneficiaries of this system with three major barrages that divert some 48 million acre feet of water annually to the 14 main canal commands in the province. Sindh is one of the poorest regions of the country, and 56 percent of household income comes from agriculture, directly or indirectly.
Irrigation is absolutely critical to Pakistan’s agriculture sector, which is the single most important source of employment and exports” said Yusupha Crookes, World Bank, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. “This project will help increase agriculture production in Sindh through increased yield and cropping intensity. This will stimulate rural growth that raises agricultural and nonagricultural wages which are fundamental for reducing poverty.
The project aims to deepen the institutional reforms that are already underway in Sindh, and will improve the irrigation system in a systematic way covering key hydraulic infrastructure. It will also enhance long-term sustainability of the irrigation system through participatory irrigation management and developing institutions for improving operation and maintenance of the system. These reforms will also improve equity of water distribution by increasing water availability for poorer farmers at the tail end of the distribution system.
“The Project will support Farmer Organizations to improve irrigation canals and their enhanced role in management thus improving overall sustainability of the irrigation and drainage system in the province by providing a model,” said Masood Ahmad, World Bank Lead Water Resources Specialist and project team leader. “These vulnerable groups will also be encouraged to play greater role in decision making in water management and in the planning and implementation of projects.”
The project will also focus on improved capacity and performance of the Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority in effective information dissemination about irrigation scheduling, operation of the canals, flood forecasts and warnings. Socio-economic impacts and progress will be monitored and reported yearly. Feedback from some of these outcomes would provide a measure of progress and give early warning should any mid-stream changes become necessary.
The credit, from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm, has 35 years to maturity and a 10-year grace period.
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For more information on the Bank’s work in Pakistan, please visit http://www.worldbank.org.pk