World Bank Approves Neeranchal National Watershed Project, India

July 17, 2014

The project will directly benefit at least two million people in eight states

WASHINGTON, July 17, 2014 - The World Bank Board of Executive Director’s today approved a $178.50 million credit for the Neeranchal National Watershed Project to improve watershed management in rural rainfed areas.

Today, watershed development is critical to India’s development as vast stretches of agricultural land are in rain fed regions, characterized by extensive land degradation, low rainfall, reduced agricultural productivity, and higher rates of poverty.

The project will be implemented over a six-year period and will provide technical assistance to the Government of India’s national Integrated Watershed Management Program (IWMP), which is the second largest watershed program in the world after China.

The project will strengthen the capacity of key national and state level institutions currently implementing watershed programs such as the IWMP, including the central Department of Land Resources (DoLR) and the State Level Nodal Agencies (SLNAs) for more effective planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of their programs. It will support the preparation of integrated science-based, participatory watershed plans with a greater focus on water management. These plans will guide investments to improve more efficient use of water for agriculture, recharge local groundwater, and enhance the convergence of various programs in order to ensure more effective use of public resources.

The project will help farmers adopt new soil, water and crop management techniques to increase vegetative cover, reduce soil erosion, and improve agricultural yields.  It will facilitate access to real time weather forecasts and help farmers adopt climate smart agricultural practices to mitigate against climate change impacts. It will also improve rural livelihoods through training, better extension services, and strengthened forward linkages to markets.    

“Efficient watershed management will help increase agricultural production in rain fed areas, lead to better use of scarce water resources and raise household incomes of farmers”, said Onno Ruhl, World Bank Country Director for India. “For over three decades, the Bank has been working on standalone watershed operations. This project is a huge opportunity for the Bank to help the government in its efforts to improve the outcomes of the national Integrated Watershed Management Program, which forms the cornerstone of the government’s support to watershed development in India.”    

The project approved today will support IWMP activities in selected sites in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Rajasthan. It will cover about 400 sub-watersheds of about 5,000 ha each and reach approximately 482,000 farmer households and 2 million people.

“The Neeranchal Project will support IWMP to improve watershed management practices and demonstrate measurable results in selected sites. It will introduce new approaches and innovative tools for community participation with a more integrated watershed planning process, pilot new field practices that will improve conservation outcomes, water availability, and agricultural yields, and scale up a more effective monitoring and evaluation system to track performance,” said Grant Milne, Senior Natural Resources Management Specialist and World Bank’s Task Team Leader for the project.

The Project will be financed by a credit from the International Development Association (IDA) – the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm – which provides concessional loans with 25 years to maturity, including a grace period of 5 years.


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