The Investment Program is consistent with the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS), which was approved in April 2009 and constitutes the country's strategic platform for development for 2008 2020. Its aim is to promote growth, generate wealth, and reduce poverty and vulnerability. ANDS covers all key sectors and sub-sectors, and embraces several themes. Water resources is a major sector under ANDS, which provides a programmatic approach to developing the water sector that includes (i) physical investments in rehabilitation of existing and development of new water resources and irrigation infrastructure; and (ii) nonphysical investment in capacity building, strengthened institutions, and policy frameworks. The proposed MFF finances the medium-term portion of a broader investment program. The Investment Program is consistent with ADB's Afghanistan country partnership strategy (CPS) 2009 2013, long-term strategic framework 2008 2020 (Strategy 2020), and water policy Water for All.
The Investment Program will finance (i) the rehabilitation and upgrading of existing and development of new irrigation and water resources infrastructure, (ii) flood management infrastructure, (iii) institutional strengthening, and (iv) capacity building for key staff throughout the sector. The first tranche project has four components: (i) northern basins development (NBD) that includes rehabilitation and upgrading of irrigation infrastructure, and development of a river basin agency (RBA) and water users associations (WUAs) for water management; (ii) Nangarhar Valley Development Authority (NVDA) improvement that includes irrigation rehabilitation and upgrading, development of WUAs, and a management reform plan for the NVDA; (iii) flood management that includes development of flood protection infrastructure along the Amu Darya River and development of a national flood management program; and (iv) project management and program development that includes a program development facility to prepare the subsequent two tranches of the MFF.
|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
Water resources in Afghanistan. Sound management and development of Afghanistan's water resources are essential for sustained economic growth. Afghanistan is arid, and precipitation varies substantially both geographically and over the course of the year, with most precipitation falling between November and April. The seasonal precipitation pattern leads to annual flooding; this causes significant economic losses in some areas, but also provides potential opportunities. Harnessing available water resources where and when they occur and exploiting these resources most efficiently for irrigated agriculture and other uses are key challenges.
Agricultural economy. Agriculture employs about two thirds of the population and comprises up to half of Afghanistan's gross domestic product. However, agricultural production fluctuates yearly because of climatic conditions, and irrigation is necessary in most areas for reliable agriculture. Irrigated agriculture accounts for about 80% of crop production. Almost 85% of Afghanistan's inhabitants live in rural areas, and are either directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture. Improved access to irrigation is necessary for rural economic growth and improved livelihoods.
Irrigation sector. Afghanistan has approximately 6.5 million hectares (ha) of arable land. By the mid-1970s, over 3 million ha received irrigation, and irrigation uses 95% of Afghanistan's developed water supplies. Today, 1.8 million ha have regular irrigation. About 80% of irrigated lands have been developed and managed by local communities in river valleys, and these systems are old and degraded. Improving the performance of these existing traditional irrigation systems is necessary to boost agricultural production. Modern irrigation systems under state control were developed with foreign aid over the last 50 years. The NVDA near Jalalabad was established by the former Soviet Union under a collective farm model. It is currently operated by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (MAIL). The systems support perennial irrigation on 20,000 ha of prime agricultural land, of which 12,000 ha are privately owned, with most of the remainder on short-term leases to small farmers. All physical aspects of the irrigation system need rehabilitation. The Government also needs support to develop a business plan to restructure NVDA (currently an inefficient state enterprise) and increase its corporate orientation.
Seasonal flooding. In many areas, annual flooding and bank erosion results in damage to irrigation systems and the loss of prime agricultural land, rural infrastructure, and other assets. This problem is particularly acute in the upper Amu Darya River that borders Afghanistan and Tajikistan. ADB is implementing the Pyanj River Basin Flood Management Project to address flood issues, but infrastructure investment is needed to remedy problems, and Afghanistan currently has little flood management capacity.