World Bank, French agency earmark $550m for irrigation projects in Nigeria

The World Bank and French Development Agency (AFD) have established a $550 million joint financial arrangement for the rehabilitation of irrigation projects in the country.

The Minister for Water Resources, Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe, said this during the inauguration of the steering committee on Nigeria Irrigation and Water Resources Management Project of the World Bank on Tuesday in Abuja. The minister was represented by her Special Adviser, Technical, Prof. Dimis Mai-Lafia. The minister said that out of the amount, the World Bank donated $400 million, while the French Development Agency assisted the country with $150 million. She expressed optimism that the donations would enable Nigeria to achieve much success in the water sector. Ochepke said that the committee was established to bridge the gap between the demand for food and domestic supply among others, through a sustainable irrigated agriculture.

The committee is made up of Permanent Secretaries of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources (FMWR), Agriculture, Finance, Power and Environment. Other members are Commissioner for Ministry of Water Resources in Zamfara, Sokoto Kebbi, Jigawa, Gombe, and Kano States and the department of Irrigation and Drainage of FMWR. She said that the project would improve technical and operational efficiency of selected irrigation schemes with a view to improving agricultural productivity and rural incomes. “The project has an irrigation potential of about 3.1 million hectares, currently about 150,000 hectares have been equipped with irrigation infrastructure. “The project development objective is to improve performance of irrigation and water resources infrastructure and institutions in the targeted areas,” she said. The minister said that the proposed investment was on five key irrigation projects within three River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAs) – Sokoto-Rima , Hadejia Jama’are and Upper Benue.

She added that the projects earmarked for rehabilitation had dams constructed and had been collecting water for over three decades. The minister said that though the dams had great potential, they could not be realized due to lack of funds. The Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr. Godknows Igali, who is also the chairman of the committee, said that the committee was made up of high level officials to ensure proper implementation of projects. He said that the country had spent billions of naira to build the projects that had never been utilized. He said that with the establishment of the committee, the dams would be fully utilized to ensure that farmers got water as much as possible through the irrigation canals for their farms. Igali explained that the project would improve the function of hydro power for the project and for the communities to boost development. “The project in collaboration with Word Bank would be a pride to all Nigerians and create jobs for our children and also increase agriculture in the country,” he said.

Igali solicited the support of the government of the affected states for efficient implementation assuring that members of the committee would commence work soon by visiting project sites. The Director, Irrigation and Drainage, Mr. Joe Kwanashie in his remarks said that the aim of the committee was to rehabilitate the large scale irrigation projects and ensure their efficient management. He said that the action of the committee was imperative as it would enhance the production of more food and boost agriculture in the country. Source: http://royaltimes.net

 

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