Dawn News

Delayed water project making headway

ISLAMABAD, July 28: A World Bank-funded project designed to improve the management of scarce water resources in the Pishin Lora Basin, but delayed for two consecutive years, is now making progress despite the existing security problems in Balochistan.

The $25 million project aimed at reducing the impact of the water crisis in Quetta, Pishin, Kalat, Mastung and Qila Abdullah districts is now making progress despite the security challenges in Balochistan, says a report of the World Bank review mission.

The Balochistan government has asked the World Bank to extend the project’s closing date (June 30 next year) and provide additional funds of about $15 million to complete the ongoing activities and address the remaining irrigation system improvement needs in the Pishin Lora Basin.

The World Bank mission which reviewed the project’s delayed start has seconded the Balochistan government’s request for additional funding and noted that there is considerable demand for rehabilitation of other irrigation schemes in the project area.

The activities of the small-scale irrigation project are designed to recognise the importance of direct participation of water users and stakeholders. Key indicators include increased surface water availability and reduced groundwater depletion; increased water productivity through a combination of engineering, management and agriculture measures; and enhanced local capacity and participation of farmers to implement similar schemes and formulate plans for sustainable water resources development and watershed management.

Work on the restoration of water storage capacity of the Bund Khushdil Khan reservoir and command area is under way.

Under small schemes, surface water delivery has been improved for 8,500 hectares including increase in cropping area and cropping intensity, and on an average the increase in irrigated area is anticipated to be about 30 per cent.

In the meantime, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance, in a monsoon season report for this year, says there is mild to moderate drought along the Balochistan coast and the south-western region, which has caused depletion of most local water resources.

The report referred to scarce water availability as a ‘hydrological drought’. If water sources are not replenished, populations may migrate away from the affected regions, it says.

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