Washington DC, December 16, 2014 ─ The World Bank today approved US$138 million additional financing to the Sindh Water Sector Improvement Project to further improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the irrigation water distribution system of three Area Water Boards (Ghotki, Nara and Left Bank) in the Sindh province.
Sindh is one of the primary beneficiaries of Indus Basin Irrigation 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 in Sindh comes from agriculture, directly or indirectly. The project covers over 1.8 million ha of irrigated land, benefiting over 600,000 farm-households or over 3.6 million people.
“Harnessing the development potential of the Indus Basin Irrigation System– one of the world’s largest integrated irrigation network – is essential to Pakistan’s agriculture sector, which is a major source of employment in the country” said Rachid Benmessaoud, World Bank, Country Director for Pakistan. “The additional financing will help increase agricultural productivity, employment and incomes in more than 30 percent of the irrigated area in the province.”
The project will cover rehabilitation of key hydraulic infrastructure, main and branch canals, and distributaries and minors that were covered under the scope of the original project but could not be undertaken because of cost escalation and impact of successive 2010 and 2011 floods, hence the need for additional funds. It will also address the systemic issues of the irrigation and drainage sector leading to its sustainability in the long run. The project’s ultimate objective is to deepen the institutional reforms that are already underway in Sindh.
“The additional financing will further support the Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority in improving the irrigation service delivery to about 600,000 farm households, with special focus on reliability, equity, and user satisfaction….”, said Abdulhamid Azad, the Task Team Leader of the project. “The project promotes equitable distribution of irrigation water and boosts shared prosperity by increasing farmers’ income and reducing their vulnerability to future droughts.”
The credit is financed from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s grant and low-interest arm. It will be on standard IDA terms, with a maturity of 25 years, including a grace period of 5 years.