ISLAMABAD: The World Bank approved an additional financing of $35 million to support improved management, planning and development of water resources in the Indus River Basin in Pakistan with better environmental and social considerations.
Given the importance of the Indus basin water resources for the country’s economic development and long-term benefits of investment in the water sector, the additional financing from the World Bank will help to enhance the government’s capacity to address basin level management of Indus water resources, including support to climate-change adaptation and mitigation measures. Pakistan is among the most affected countries by climate change as its water, food and energy security is largely dependent on its glacial resources located in the Himalaya-Karakoram range.
The original Water Sector Capacity Building and Advisory Services Project (WCAP) with $38 million World Bank support contributed substantially to the improvement of water resources management in the Indus River system. It helped equip key federal water management institutions with modern state of the art tools, improving management skills of their staff and conducting studies to inform policy. This additional financing will help to scale up existing activities as well as to enhance capacity to address energy, water and food security issues.
Water sector issues are enormous and complex and addressing them will require a strategic engagement over the medium and long term, says, Patchamuthu Illangovan, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. The Bank has a long history of partnership and collaboration with the Government of Pakistan in the water sector and this additional financing will support water management and distribution, benefit sharing mechanisms, and capacity strengthening for improved water resources management across the country.
The project aims to strengthen the Indus system’s institutional and regulatory framework, and bolster the technical capacity of the Ministry of Water and Power, the Indus River System Authority, the Water and Power Development Authority and the Water Section of the Planning Development and Reform Division.
The development and management of the Indus Basin is a huge challenge, requiring very high levels of administrative, engineering and scientific capability, says, Javaid Afzal, the Task Team Leader of the Project. The additional financing will be used among other things to upgrade hydraulic research laboratories to provide state of the art physical and numerical modelling facilities to strengthen overall capacity in improved water resources management. The credit is financed from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s grant and low-interest arm. It will offer a maturity of 25 years, including a grace period of 5 years.