Pakistan’s province of Balochistan is one of the least water-secure provinces in Pakistan. Not only does this make farming difficult, it makes life itself quite uncertain. That is why the World Bank today announced that it had approved a $200 million credit to help Pakistan bring community-based water management to this region.
Dubbed the “Balochistan Integrated Water Resources Management & Development Project,” the initiative will invite both public and private investments in the water basins located in the Balochistan province. These basins are attached to the Nari and Porali rivers, and were selected due to their promising prospects for water resource development.
According to Illango Patchamuthu, the World Bank’s Country Director for Pakistan, “Balochistan is the least water-secure province in Pakistan and farmers here face the greatest risks from climate change … The [Balochistan Integrated Water Resources Management & Development] Project is designed to boost farmer incomes through new irrigation infrastructure and improved on-farm management and rangeland management. An associated objective is building province’s capacity for long term water resources planning.”
To reach these goals, project administrators will mobilize members of the local communities, enlisting their participation in activities, such as construction and rehabilitation of irrigation and drinking water supply infrastructure. They will also help build flood protection, manage watersheds, protect environmental resources, and provide training and equipment for on-the-farm water management and agricultural productivity. Hydro-meteorological monitoring and implementing means of tracking information about river basin activities will also be a part of the project.
The primary focus of the project will center on small farms of less than 12.3 acres and medium sized farms of less than 49.4 acres. Since the primary focus of this project is water management and irrigation, these farms will need to be actively engaged in agricultural activities to qualify for the program. The World Bank estimates this will include some 42,800 farm households.
William Young, a Task Team Leader for the project, said: “Groundwater is over-exploited in many parts of the Nari and Porali basins and watersheds are degraded; but opportunities exist for development of surface water resources, and for rehabilitating watersheds and range lands both to enhance production but also to protect water resources and improve climate resilience.”
According to the World Bank’s announcement, the International Development Association (IDA) will finance the project, but the World Bank will provide a grant and a low interest loan. The financing will be on standard IDA terms, and the loan will mature in 25 years following a five-year grace period.