FAO and World Bank achieve results in Pakistan water sector improvement project

Pakistan relies on the largest contiguous irrigation system in the world to provide basic food security. Agriculture is the major sector for employment and exports, especially in rural areas, and irrigation is necessary for consumption and food production. The irrigation and drainage infrastructure, however, has deteriorated over the years and is in need of rehabilitation. The USD 175 million Sindh Water Sector Improvement Phase I (WSIP-I) Project was implemented by the World Bank and its client the Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority (SIDA), who appointed FAO Investment Centre as the Project Management Consultants/Procurement Agent (PMCA). The project, which was approved in September 2007, aims to improve efficiency and effectiveness of irrigation water distribution in the three Area Water Boards (AWBs) of Ghotki Feeder, Nara Canal and Left Bank Canal (Akram Wah and Phuleli) which deliver water to 360 Farmers Organizations. The project supports long-term food security by deepening and widening the reforms already underway in Sindh’s Irrigation and Drainage Sector, rehabilitating hydraulic and irrigation infrastructure; creating efficiency, equity and sustainability of irrigation and drainage services; and improving agricultural production and employment in rural areas of the Sindh Province.

The Sindh Province is one of the poorest regions of Pakistan, with 37 percent of inhabitants living below the poverty line. The World Bank’s Project Appraisal Document (PAD) rated the project “high risk” because of the previous difficulties in procurement of consultant firms and contract management in the National Drainage Program in Sindh. Notwithstanding the anticipated problems, FAO Investment Centre, in its role as PMCA, was recognized for its transparency in the way it processed and awarded contracts for five major consultancies, supervised procurement of different contracts for works (including Community Based Contracts – CBCs), recruited staff for the client and worked with local stakeholders. All documents related to WSIP-I were published on a project website and Transparency International Pakistan (TIP) and other stakeholders were invited to participate in the process of procurement and awarding contracts. A comprehensive monitoring network has been put in place to ensure that information continues to be disclosed and local Farmers Organizations are involved in decision making. TIP identified WSIP-I as a key project for the Sindh government that will prove to be a model for others. As a result of FAO Investment Centre’s involvement and transparency, final contract prices were lower than estimates, farmers and stakeholders were involved in the decision making and implementation to a higher degree than in the past, and the road has been paved for a second project. WSIP-II will be a new project focusing on the rehabilitation of a larger region including the Guddu and Sukkur Barrages, the Left Bank of the Indus River, and possibly more AWBs. Based on the success of WSIP-I, rated as “Satisfactory” by the World Bank, WSIP-II will likely be operated on the same management model that FAO laid out in WSIP-I.

For the World Bank WSIP-I project page, click here .

For the project website, click on and .