World Bank provides $110 million for water resources development, disease reduction in four African countries

World Bank Board approves three international development credits and a grant to support water resources development in riparian countries of Senegal River Basin. The three countries that received credits are Mali ($30.08M), Mauritania ($31.78M) and Senegal ($30.08M) while Guinea received a grant of $18.04M. Part of funding is to fight water-related diseases, notably malaria and schistosomiasis -- two of the most severe health problems affecting those living in the river basin...

WASHINGTON, DC, June 8, 2006 -- The World Bank Board of Executive Directors today approved three International Development Association (IDA) credits* and one grant in the amount of US$110 million to support the development of water resources in the four riparian countries of the Senegal River Basin (Guinea, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal).

The three countries that received IDA credits are Mali (US$30.08 million), Mauritania (US$31.78 million) and Senegal (US$30.08 million) while Guinea received an IDA grant of US$18.04 million.

The Senegal River Basin Multi-purpose Water Resources Development (MWRD) program, as it is called, will fund integrated water resources development activities focusing at the local level to help generate income to reduce poverty among rural communities along the river basin.

Part of the funding will be devoted to fight water-related diseases, notably malaria and schistosomiasis, which are two of the most severe health problems affecting those living in the River Basin. By providing long-lasting insecticide treated bednets to a majority of households living in the Basin, the project aims to bring malaria, which is a leading cause of deaths in children under five, under control. Schistosomiasis is the second most prevalent tropical disease in sub-Saharan Africa.

Fishermen, irrigation workers, women, and school-age children are at greatest risk and the project will support mass drug treatment to decrease the parasite load. The funding will also be used to strengthen disease surveillance systems and local operations research capacity, in the hope of creating a sustainable platform for improved disease monitoring.

The MWRD will help consolidate and modernize the institutional, legal and technical framework of the Senegal River Basin Organization (OMVS) to better serve the four countries.

"The first phase of this 10 years program will build the foundation for long-term development and sustainability of water resources infrastructure, through institutional strengthening, regional planning and increasing the multipurpose uses of the countries' shared water resources," said Mark Tomlinson, Director of the Regional Integration Department in the Africa Region of the World Bank in Washington, DC.

The Basin's hydropower potential is estimated at 1,200 megawatts (MW), but less than 25% is currently exploited. Similarly, the potential for expanding arable land through irrigation from the waters of the Basin is estimated at 320,000 ha of which less than 32% are currently developed. Increased water storage and infrastructure coupled with multipurpose water resources development and management are therefore crucial to address the growing demand for water and food, and to ensure sustainable growth and the welfare of the people living in the basin.

In total, 2 million people are expected to benefit from the first phase of the project from the four riparian countries -- Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, and Senegal -- with a combined population of 35 million inhabitants, of which 12 million live in or depend on the Basin for their livelihoods. With a growth rate estimated at 2.7%, the population of the Basin is expected to double every 25 years.

Direct involvement and participation in the project by local communities will help ensure full ownership and commitment of the riparian population to secure the existing investments and those planned through this project.

The project will also enhance regional integration among the riparian countries through the Senegal River Basin Organization thanks to the built-in cooperation and the recent inclusion of Guinea, the upstream country to the OMVS. The project targets the development of joint multipurpose water resources activities to foster economic growth and benefit sharing at the local, national and regional levels.

"The holistic approach to the management of the river basin through the combination of multipurpose water resources infrastructure, water resources management and related income generation activities will expand opportunities for growth, reduce immigration and poverty, and improve the health and livelihoods of the population, while preserving the environment, said Ousmane Dione," the World Bank Task Team Leader for the project.

For additional information, click here.

* The credits are provided on standard International Development Association (IDA) terms, with a commitment fee of 0.35%, a service charge of 0.75% over a 40-year period of maturity which includes a 10-year grace period.

Also see:
-- "Guinea-Bissau: World Bank supports program to rehabilitate national infrastructure"
-- "Global Environment Facility Appoints New CEO: Monique Barbut Chosen after International Search"
-- "Afghanistan: World Bank supports water, agriculture sectors"

###

More in International