Overall Bank program, agriculture, social sectors and energy development on the agenda
DUSHANBE, May 13, 2011 – The World Bank Director for Strategy and Operations for the Europe and Central Asia region Mr. Theodore Ahlers visited Tajikistan from May 9 to 12, 2011. Mr. Ahlers was joined by the World Bank Regional Director for Central Asia Mr. Motoo Konishi and the newly appointed World Bank Country Manager for Tajikistan Ms. Marsha Olive.
The key objectives of the visit were to review the overall progress of World Bank investment and analytical support to Tajikistan, meet with the President of Tajikistan to discuss cooperation issues, as well as with deputy prime ministers responsible for agriculture, energy and social sectors, to emphasize the Bank’s close engagement and interest in Tajikistan’s broad development agenda.
As part of this agenda, the Bank team and Tajik counterparts expressed satisfaction with the successfully completed negotiations on the second Dushanbe Water Supply project, Social Safety Net Strengthening project and the Fifth Programmatic Development Policy grant. These grants will help the Government and the people of Tajikistan to improve water supply services in Dushanbe, increase Government capacity to plan, monitor, and manage social assistance for the poor, protect the delivery of basic services within a sustainable fiscal framework, strengthen the effectiveness and transparency of Government expenditures, and improve the environment for private sector development.
"I am pleased to be in Dushanbe to discuss Tajikistan's progress and potential for sustainable growth, drawing on the country's significant resources -- human, hydropower, and agricultural,” said Mr. Theodore Ahlers. “The recently negotiated grants, which total US$ 29 million, demonstrate our continuing strong support for Tajikistan’s policy reforms and sector development efforts."
President Rakhmon and Mr. Ahlers discussed opportunities in the energy sector that will contribute to economic growth and mitigate winter energy shortages. These include measures to increase energy savings though efficiency measures and to generate new capacity through hydro, thermal and other power sources. In addition, they discussed the findings of a recent analysis that verified the feasibility of exporting summer surplus energy to Pakistan and Afghanistan by Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, using current energy generation capacity.
The visit to Tajikistan was the first leg of a three-nation tour in Central Asia. Mr. Ahlers travels to Uzbekistan next for additional high-level meetings before the start of a multi-country information sharing and discussion sessions in Almaty, Kazakhstan on May 17-19 on the work program for the Assessment Studies for the proposed Rogun Regional Water Reservoir and Hydropower Project (Rogun HPP).
The World Bank’s support to the Tajik energy sector includes improvement in the financial management of Barki Tojik and Tajiktransgas, and investments to reduce energy losses and increase energy supply. As a result, billed consumption has increased by around 50 percent, and revenue for sales of electricity in Dushanbe increased by almost five times in the last two years. In addition, the Government of Tajikistan has asked the World Bank to finance the two main Assessment Studies for the proposed Rogun HPP: Techno-Economic Assessment Study (TEAS) and Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA). The World Bank is also preparing an independent study to be carried out in parallel with the Rogun Assessment Studies. This study is funded directly by the Bank and will assess the energy supply and water management alternatives to the proposed Rogun Regional Water Reservoir and Hydropower Project.
As part of its expanded role in supporting the Assessment Studies for the proposed Rogun HPP, the World Bank has established two independent Panels of Experts: Engineering and Dam Safety Panel and an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Panel. The role of the Panels, who are constituted, managed and funded by the World Bank, is to ensure due diligence and international quality standards, as well as objectivity and credibility through independent advice and guidance. The representatives of the independent Panels of Experts are currently visiting Tajikistan to discuss consultants’ Inception Reports with the authorities and the consultants themselves, contracted by the Government of Tajikistan to carry out the Rogun Assessment Studies.
After these discussions, the members of the Panels will share technical expertise and insights with riparian governments and civil society representatives in Central Asia. The Panels are composed of recognized international professionals from outside the countries of the former Soviet Union. The Chairpersons of each Panel and a dam safety expert will attend the first set of riparian information-sharing and discussion meetings on the Assessment Studies for the Proposed Rogun HPP in Almaty on May 17-19, 2011. All riparian governments and representatives of civil society were invited to participate: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.
“The first reports -- to be discussed by all interested parties -- will outline the methodology for the assessments,” said Mr. Theodore Ahlers at the conclusion of the visit. “The process will continue in phases, with the next round of consultations taking place tentatively in the fall of 2011. This week we brought together the government consultants, the independent Panels of Experts, and Bank team to see the Rogun site and proposed resettlement areas. The result of this systematic work, which includes reviewing all the Soviet-era designs, is to assure a high quality assessment for consideration of all interested parties. We are committed to completing the assessments as quickly as possible, consistent with international quality standards. The final reports should be available by the end of 2012."
According to the current schedule for the two Assessment Studies and subject to the timely completion of required additional geotechnical site investigation studies, the consultants will in September 2011 submit reports with recommendations on the following three aspects:
- the viability of constructing an initial stage of the proposed Rogun HPP with an intermediate height dam as a stand-alone project;
- the environmental and social assessment of this prospective initial stage of the Rogun project;
- the basic parameters for the techno-economic, environmental and social feasibility for a full height Rogun dam.
The consultants’ recommendations will be reviewed by the Panels of Experts, as well as the riparian governments and civil society stakeholders in the period from September to November 2011 when the next round of riparian consultations will take place. The draft Environmental and Social Impact Assessment is expected to be disclosed in December 2011.
The active portfolio of the World Bank in Tajikistan currently consists of 16 projects with net commitment of US$ 223 million. The largest share of ongoing portfolio is in agriculture and rural development (31 percent), followed by energy (23 percent), water (17 percent), education (15 percent), health (8 percent), and economic policy and public sector (6 percent).