Agriculture is a vital sector of Pakistan’s economy, accounting for around 21% of the country’s GDP and employing 45% of the countries labour force. As one of the world’s most arid countries, Pakistan relies heavily upon irrigation from the Indus irrigation system, the world’s largest contiguous irrigation system, to provide food security for its people. However, the Indus irrigation system is now facing several problems, such as deterioration of infrastructure and inequitable water distribution, and is in need of rehabilitation. On March 7, 2013, an agreement was signed between the Project Coordinator of the Sindh Water Sector Improvement Project (WSIP), Dr Fateh M. Marri, and FAO Country Representative, Dr Kevin Gallagher, for the extension of the UTF agreement whereby FAO through its Investment Centre Division delivers the functions of Project Management Consultants / Procurement Agent (PMCA) for the Sindh Water Sector Improvement Project Phase I (WSIP-1). The current arrangements, put in place in March 2008, will continue until the WSIP-1 completion in February 2015. The project was rated as ‘high risk’ by the World Bank at appraisal, in September 2007, as a result of previous difficulties in consulting firms procurement and contract management in the National Drainage Program in Sindh. The decision to entrust PMCA responsibilities to FAO was made by the World Bank and Government of Sindh in recognition of the Organization exemplary track record in ensuring transparency in contract procurement and financial procedures.
The USD 175 million WSIP-1, 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, which deliver water to 360 Farmer Organizations. Improving water management in these areas would result in increased agricultural production, employment and incomes in more than 30% of the irrigated area in Sindh, one of the poorest regions of the country. The PMCA will continue to be responsible for the procurement and supervision of consulting services to the Project. Through provision of training, the PMCA will also strengthen the management skills of the implementing agency (Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority, SIDA).
Related article: http://www.fao.org/investment/newsandmeetings/news/detail/en/c/143360/