World Bank supports irrigation sector in Pakistan

The World Bank has approved a US$25 million IDA credit to the Pakistan Province of Balochistan to improve the management of scarce water resources in the Pishin Lora Basin, located in the northwestern part of the Province. The Balochistan Small-scale Irrigation Project is designed to boost agriculture production and improve the use of water in irrigation by increasing surface water availability and reducing groundwater depletion. It also aims to boost water productivity...

WASHINGTON, Feb. 26, 2008 -- The World Bank has approved a US$25 million IDA credit to the Pakistan Province of Balochistan to improve the management of scarce water resources in the Pishin Lora Basin, located in the northwestern part of the Province.

The Balochistan Small-scale Irrigation Project is designed to boost agriculture production and improve the use of water in irrigation by increasing surface water availability and reducing groundwater depletion. It also aims to boost water productivity through a combination of engineering, management, and agricultural measures.

The Pishin Lora basin has been severely impacted by drought since 1998, and this has exacerbated underlying water management problems. The surface water availability has decreased and rangelands have degraded, severely curtailing agricultural and other economic activities. The poor and marginalized sections of society have been most affected, resulting in increased urban migration.

"Like the rest of the Province, drought has taken its toll on the lives of the local population in Pishin Lora Basin," said Yusupha Crookes, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. "This project will address the main causes behind the current water crisis. It will help the Province properly manage its water and land resources and build capacity among its farmers and water professionals.

The project will entail partial restoration of the water storage capacity of the Bund Khushdil Khan, and developing small-scale irrigation schemes in the Pishin Lora Basin through a community participation approach. It will also strengthen and build the capacity of the Irrigation and Power Department, water management institutions, and farmer and community organizations.

"Support to Farmers Organizations and Community Organizations is critical to ensure they are participatory, inclusive, and well-governed," saidManuel Contijoch, World Bank Senior Water Resources Specialist and project team leader. "They will be trained in activities such as restoration and management of watersheds and rangelands and in the implementation, operation, and maintenance of irrigation schemes."

The credit, from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank's concessionary lending arm, carries a 0.75% service fee, a 10-year grace period, and a maturity of 35 years.

For more information on the Bank's work in Pakistan, visit: http://www.worldbank.org.pk

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