Pakistan's population during the last three decades has increased from 65 million to 180 million and is expected to further increase to 234 million by 2025. About 68% of the rural population depends on agriculture, which employs over 46% of the labor force and accounts for more than 60% of Pakistan's foreign exchange earnings. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province (KPP) has a population of more than 25.3 million in 2011 and is expected to further increase to 34.5 million by 2025, considering the current population growth rate of 2.8% per annum. About 80% of the population is dwelling in rural areas and over 75% of the population is at least partly dependent on agriculture for their livelihood in KPP.
About 25% of the country's land, which is suitable for intensive agriculture, is subject to flooding, water logging, salinity and reduction in soil fertility, and in particular the non-availability or limited availability of irrigation water. From about 79.61 million hectares (ha) of the total land of Pakistan, almost 68 million ha of land (85.4%) receive less than 300 millimeters rainfall annually, and thus about 80% of the arable lands in Pakistan are entirely dependent on irrigation. In KPP, although it has 10.17 million ha of land, only about 16.6% of land is cultivable, of which over 50% is already irrigated and about 15% is used for rain-fed crops and about 30% is fallow.
Pakistan faces a number of serious issues in the irrigated agriculture and water resource (IAWR) sector, such as (i) deteriorating and inefficient irrigation infrastructure; (ii) poor capacity of irrigation service delivery; (iii) low water-use efficiency and water productivity; (iv) over-exploitation and deteriorating quality of groundwater; and (v) declining storage capacity. KPP is no exception. The Comprehensive Development Strategy (CDS) 2010-2017 in KPP highlighted key issues in the IAWR sector. From the water-supply side, these are (i) water scarcity and a lack of effort in water conservation; (ii) inequitable water supply distribution and low cost recovery, which has resulted in deferred maintenance; (iii) limited institutional capacity to manage irrigation systems; and (iv) limited funding availability. From the water-use side, these are rain-fed agriculture and poor irrigated agricultural management practices.
Improving the IAWR sector is a key priority for the Governments of Pakistan and KPP. Pakistan in the 21st Century: Vision 2030 recognizes the issues in the IAWR sector and suggests the strategic approach to promote the concept of More Crop per Drop , the increase of water storage capacity, and the integrated water resources management to ensure optimal use of water resources. These suggestions will be realized in association with more specific measures such as (i) protection of water resources; (ii) securing benefits of water related infrastructure; (iii) optimization of water use efficiency; (iv) enforcement of improved irrigated agriculture methods and practices; (v) enabling irrigation stakeholders to participate effectively in the decision-making processes; and (vi) management of groundwater sustainably.
The CDS in KPP targets new cultivable land of 70,000 ha by 2015 to meet the food demand of the KPP's growing population and suggests various measures in both water-supply and water-use sides to address the issues in the IAWR sector. For the water-supply side, the following are suggested in the CDS: (i) provision of sufficient irrigation water supply, and promotion of water conservation; (ii) the increase of overall irrigation efficiency from 40% to 45% to achieve equity in water distribution and to increase the irrigated area; (iii) harnessing unused flood water and run this off from hill torrents to conserve rainwater, and to improve watershed management and flood mitigation; and (iv) increase of institutional capacity of the water supply institutions: the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Irrigation Department (KPID) including the Office of Directorate General for Small Dams (DGSD).
For the water-use side, (i) the facilitation of water management; (ii) the greater attention to the water-use efficiency and the water productivity; and (iii) the bringing of cultivable wasteland into farming, through provision of irrigation, land development, and water harvesting are suggested as priority measures. While farmers' organization in existing irrigated systems have gained modest capacities for operation and maintenance (O&M) of on-farm irrigation systems, farmers' organizations and water users' committees (WUCs) responsible for O&M of domestic water-use systems in the community levels in arid areas have to be formed and trained.
In the IAWR sector in KPP, for the water-supply side, the CDS calls for PRs85 billion ($808 million equivalent) for the investment during 2010-2017, and over 50% of the total investment is requested for the increase of new irrigated agriculture through the constructions of small-medium dams and irrigation canals. In addition, the CDS estimated PRs384 million ($3.6 million equivalent) for required increases of the capacities of the KPID including the DGSD. The CDS also calls for PRs9 billion ($86 million equivalent) for the investment in land development and leveling and PRs2 billion ($19 million equivalent) for water harvesting during the same period for water-use side. The proposed project will support KPP's medium-term investment requirements.
A sector loan project is proposed as KPP government has a development plan to meet the priority development needs of the IAWR sector as included in the CDS up to 2017, and several subprojects were preliminarily identified for new irrigated agriculture developments associated with small-medium dam constructions. The proposed project is in line with the Country Partnership Strategy for Pakistan 2009-2013, which prioritizes water and irrigation, and focuses on the expansion of irrigated agriculture as well as the rehabilitation of irrigation systems. It is included in the Country Operations Business Plan, 2013-2014.
ADB's financed loan project in barani area of KPP has been implemented under unusually harsh conditions due to severe security threats. ADB's financed project preparatory technical assistance (PPTA) covering KPP and Punjab Province could not identify economically viable subprojects in the insecure areas of KPP. These suggest that (i) no subprojects should be selected in high security concerned areas; and (ii) careful selection of core subprojects at the initial stage of the PPTA implementation and reflecting project's benefits from as many aspects as possible into economic analysis are the key to success for better project's design.