DADU: The World Bank mission has said that 11 flood detention dams are being built under the irrigation department’s Sindh Flood Emergency Rehabilitation Project (SFERP) for harvesting rainwater to recharge groundwater and turn wastelands into fertile farmland.

The high-level mission, led by Task Team Leader Ahsan Tehsin, senior disaster risk management specialist, inspected the Lat-01 flood detention dam site at Lat basin in the Kohistan region on Monday.

Mr Tehsin said that the World Bank-funded project also helped provide water for subsistence agriculture, livestock and human population and safeguard Karachi from urban flooding.

Other members of the mission are Nihan Rafiq and Yoko Okura, disaster risk management specialists; Yunziyi Lang, climate change specialist; Amna Memon and Mishka Zaman, senior social development specialists; Sana Ahmed, environment specialist; Moritz Meyer and Christina Wieser, senior economists, Farah Yamin Khan, Shahid Sohail, Syed Kashif Gilani, Shoaib Siddiqui, Shams Jaffrani and Aijaz Shaikh.

They observed that the Kohistan region was a water-deficit area where life and livelihood were dependent on rainfall, which had significantly changed its pattern due to climate change. It was feared that more extreme weather patterns were going to be witnessed, such as drought and floods, they said.

Team member says 77pc work for Rs1.6bn Lat-01 dam project completed; it will help protect Karachi, M-9 from flooding and turn barren lands fertile

During their visit to the dam site, the mission members said that the 11 flood detention dams being built for harvesting rainwater would support the fragile eco-system as the area was a habitat of numerous fauna and flora species.

They said that World Bank was privileged to support Sindh government on a multi-sectoral project that worked on rehabilitation of critical infrastructure as well as restoration of livelihoods for the poorest and the most vulnerable.

Zahid Hussain Shaikh, senior water resources specialist, shed light on salient features of Lat-01 dam and said that work on the project had been started on March 21, 2023 and would be completed by March 19, 2024.

He said that the catchment area of this dam was 20 square miles and the spillway type was Ogee steeped spillway. The design discharge in cusecs was 16,570, the width was 225 feet and the floor level was 524 feet, he said.

He said the spillway crest level of the dam was 542 feet, highest flood level was 546 feet and embankment top level was 550 feet. The embankment type was earth fill and its length was 4,830 feet, he said.

He said the storage area was 56 acres and reservoir storage was 364 acre feet. A total of 692 tests were conducted to ensure quality of work on the dam, he said.

He said that this dam was being built at a cost of Rs1.6 billion and 77 per cent of its work had been completed. The dam would also protect the M-9 Motorway and urban area from flooding in future, he said.

Nasir Panhwar, social safeguard specialist, said that the project had provided drinking water facilities to villages located near the dams’ sites. In drought conditions, people had no option but to migrate to barrage areas along with their livestock for sustenance, he said.

Naeem Arif, representative of the project implementation consultant, said that 21 million acres of farmland depended on Guddu, Sukkur and Kotri barrages; and desert area on the right bank of the Indus was 8.4 million acres in which 5.4 million acres was in Khirthar range. The dams were being built to turn this desert into fertile land, he said.

Representatives of economic affairs division and planning commission Azam Khan, Iqra Khan, Asghar Halepoto and Shaikh Ahmed; and Aqeel Ahmed of the SFERP also accompanied the mission during its visit.

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2023

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