ISLAMABAD - The World Bank has approved a credit worth $200 million to strengthen Balochistan government’s initiative of community-based water management for irrigation in the province.

Balochistan Integrated Water Resources Management & Development Project will support investments in two of the eighteen basins in Balochistan: Nari and Porali river basins.

These basins were selected based on an assessment of surface water resources.

“Balochistan is the least water-secure province in the country and farmers here face the greatest risks from climate change,” said the World Bank Country Director for Pakistan, Illango Patchamuthu, in a statement issued on Wednesday.

“The Project has been designed to boost farmers’ 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,” he added.

He said the communities would be mobilised for introducing new irrigation and drinking water supply facilities, while restoring the old ones; flood protection infrastructure; water management, environmental protection works, and on-farm water management and agricultural productivity activities.

The main project beneficiaries will be small farmers (owning up to 12.3 acres of land) and medium farmers (owning 12.35 to 49.4 acres of land), engaged in irrigated agriculture.

Approximately, 42,800 farm households will benefit from project’s interventions. The province’s hydro-meteorological monitoring and river basin information systems will also be strengthened.

“Groundwater is over-exploited in many parts of Nari and Porali basins, while watersheds are degraded; but opportunities exist for the development of surface water resources, and for restoring watersheds and rangelands both to enhance production but also to protect water resources and improve climate resilience,” said William Young, Task Team Leader of the Project.

The project will be financed from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s grant and low interest arm.

It will be on standard IDA terms, with a maturity of 25 years, including a grace period of five years.