World Bank pledges to support the design of a reform package for water resources management and irrigation in Nigeria.
The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors on Friday approved a $495.3 million (about N79.3 billion) International Development Association, IDA credit.
The facility is to help improve farmers’ access to irrigation and drainage services, strengthen institutional arrangements for integrated water resources management, and improve delivery of agricultural services in selected, large-scale public schemes in the northern part of Nigeria.
Named the Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria, TRIMING, the project would improve existing irrigation on 27,000 hectares, irrigate an additional 23,000 hectares, and benefit more than 140,000 farmers as well as mobilize the private sector investments.
The World Bank said the project marks a transformational effort to improve large-scale public irrigation for expanding food production and catalyzing economic growth in rural areas necessary to end poverty, boost prosperity, and enhance resilience of agriculture production systems in the country.
The Acting Vice President of the World Bank for the Africa Region, Jamal Saghir, who reviewed the importance of the project, said unlocking Africa’s development potential requires interventions in key sectors, such as energy and water.
He said by taking a comprehensive approach, the TRIMING project would increase farm productivity, build climate resilience, reduce flooding risks and improve the lives and well-being of millions of Nigerian citizens in Africa’s largest economy.
Agriculture, he said, is a key sector of the Nigerian economy, accounting for 22 per cent of gross domestic product, GDP in 2012.
Nigeria’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda, ATA, he said, is a major initiative to drive rural income growth, accelerate achievement of food and nutritional security, and generate employment.
The World Bank’s portfolio of projects in the agricultural sector, including on agriculture research, extension and technology dissemination, as well as market access and value addition, was fully geared towards supporting the implementation of the ATA.
Reaching the ATA’s goals, Mr. Saghir said out, requires pursuing an ambitious policy and institutional reform agenda, while transforming public irrigation would play an important role for securing sustainable growth of food production.
“Given Nigeria’s determination to diversify and integrate its national economy to benefit all Nigerians, this project will help to advance this ambition in three vital ways,” the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, said.
The Director listed the ways to include restoring agricultural productivity, creating job opportunities for a large number of unskilled young people, and creating conditions for growth and peace in northern Nigeria.
The project, she pointed out, would help to set-up Water User Associations, WUAs and engage local communities in setting, collecting, and allocating water user fees.
The project would also help support the design of a comprehensive reform package for water resources management and irrigation in Nigeria.
“The project’s innovative approach seeks to improve sustainability by promoting autonomy at scheme level and empowering Water Users Associations, WUAs, organization,” said World Bank Task Team Leader for the TRIMING project, David Casanova.
He said the World Bank is looking forward to effective implementation of the project by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources.
The project is scheduled to become effective on October 1, 2014.