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World Bank Approves US$ 250 Million for Bihar Kosi Basin Development Project, India

December 8, 2015

The project is expected to benefit 10 million people in the Kosi River Basin

WASHINGTON, December 08, 2015 ─ The World Bank today approved a US$ 250 million credit for the Bihar Kosi Basin Development Project. The project will address the long-term challenges of enhancing flood management capacity and agricultural production in the Kosi River Basin, building on the ongoing reconstruction work that started following the 2008 Kosi river floods. 

The project will benefit about 10 million rural people, mostly small, marginal and landless farmers, in the districts of Araria, Madhepura, Purnea, Saharsa, and Supaul.

Bihar is India’s most flood-prone state, with 76 percent of the total population living under a recurring threat of floods. High discharge and sediment loads are carried downstream into Bihar along the Gandak and Kosi Rivers, and the area has recorded the highest number of floods in India during the last 30 years.

In 2008, the Kosi River breached a portion of the embankment system and caused unprecedented floods in Bihar. The breach affected over 3.3 million people and caused over US$ 1.2 billion in damage.

Phase I, under implementation since March 2011, was designed to help address the short- to medium-term recovery needs of the flood-affected population. So far about 31,000 houses have been completed through an owner-driven construction process; and 66 bridges and 14 roads have been completed to restore and enhance connectivity.

Under the present Phase II, through the Bihar Kosi Basin Development Project, the state will enhance its resilience to floods and increase agricultural production and productivity in the targeted districts. The project will also help improve the Government of Bihar’s capacity to respond promptly and effectively to future disasters.

“The project will help improve the overall productivity in the Kosi River Basin by unlocking the agricultural potential of the area. It will help farmers adopt innovative and climate-resilient technologies and extend their access to markets through better roads,” said Onno Ruhl, World Bank Country Director for India. “This holistic approach will not only protect the population of the Kosi River Basin from constant threat of floods, but also enhance their livelihoods over the long-term.” 

Bihar’s vast stretches of fertile plains in northern India make it one of the country’s most agriculturally abundant states. However, the agricultural sector in Bihar has suffered particularly from significant flood events, which have washed away standing crops across hundreds of thousands of hectares of land, destroyed livestock and deposited silt on fertile lands.

The project will help the Government of Bihar address some of the long-term constraints to agricultural growth by promoting and strengthening the Agriculture Technology Management Agencies (ATMA) in all five districts. The ATMAs will help field-test and scale-up climate-resilient agricultural practices; conduct value chain analysis for commercial options; build partnerships with allied services, such as financial institutions and insurance providers; and empower farmers to engage directly with the market.

In order to improve farmers’ access to markets, about 400 km of local road network that connect rural roads to the main road network, will be rehabilitated, and around 57 small and medium bridges will be constructed to provide greater access to local markets.

In addition, a broad range of investments will be made to increase the preparedness and reduce the vulnerability of communities living in these districts by strengthening the eastern and western Kosi embankments; procuring dredgers for management of silt deposits in the river system; and strengthening the capacity of the state to manage floods by establishing a Real Time Data Acquisition System and strengthening the existing Flood Management Information System.

A series of parallel initiatives are also ongoing to improve Government of Bihar’s technical capacity to manage floods and enhance agricultural output. These include the Ganges River Basin Project, the Ganges River Basin Study, the National Rural Livelihoods Project (Jeevika), and the Department for International Development (DfID)-funded Bihar Flood Management Implementation Support Project. Accompanying these efforts, the Bihar government has launched an Agricultural Road Map that outlines strategic investments in the agricultural sector over the next decade.

“Flood risk management, improved irrigation, improved connectivity to markets, and increased agricultural productivity will build on each other to help increase output in the five districts of the Kosi River Basin. In addition, several activities under the project will leverage each other. For example, rural roads will also be used for evacuation in case of floods”, said Deepak Singh, Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist and World Bank’s Task Team Leader for the project. 

Over the years, the World Bank has significantly increased its support to improve India’s capacity to prepare, respond, and recover from natural disasters. Currently, five projects are under implementation: National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project I, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry Coastal Disaster Risk Reduction Project, Bihar Kosi Flood Recovery Project, Uttarakhand Disaster Recovery Project, and the Odisha Disaster Recovery Project. In addition to reconstruction, these projects are helping improve the disaster risk management capacity both at the state and national levels, including disaster-resilient infrastructure, analytical work, equipment, training, and in particular establishing systems for better risk management through improved forecasting, early warning systems, and multi-hazard risk assessments for planning, and decision support systems.

The credit is from the International Development Association (IDA) – the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm with a maturity of 25 years, including a 5 year grace period.


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