The project impact will be accelerated expansion of areas covered by irrigation, drainage and flood control infrastructure. The outcome will be improved readiness of water resources management projects for implementation. The Project's expected outputs are: (i) detailed feasibility studies for high priority water resources projects undertaken; (ii) environmental, social, and technical capacity of the Department of Irrigation (DOI) and the Department of Water Induced Disaster Prevention (DWIDP) improved; (iii) Irrigation Master Plan updated; and (iv) efficient project management.
Given the ADB country strategy and government priorities, the Project will (i) prepare a project for the rehabilitation and expansion of farmer managed irrigation systems, and the rehabilitation and partial management transfer of some agency-managed irrigation systems; (ii) undertake water-induced hazard mapping and prepare a water-induced disaster prevention project for a priority river basin; and, (iii) prepare other high priority projects as identified by DOI. The Project will prepare these projects to a level of detailed feasibility which includes technical study, safeguard screening and plans preparation, and economic and financial analysis of at least 30% of subprojects for project readiness, thereby advancing activities which would normally occupy the first one or two years of implementation.
The Project will enhance the capacities of staff of the DOI and DWIDP through formal and on-the-job training (including participation in project preparation under the Project). Importantly, the Project will reorganize and strengthen the existing Environment Section of DOI as a Social and Environment Section with (i) clear terms of reference of the section, (ii) environmental and social safeguards guidelines developed to ensure safeguard planning and implementation process complies with the national laws, regulations and ADB's Safeguard Policy Statement requirements; and (iii) gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) guidelines on project planning and implementation prepared.
The Project will help update the Irrigation Master Plan with a view to the sustainable development and management of irrigation systems in the country until 2030. Changes in land use, water use, agricultural technology, irrigation and water resources policy and legislation, and the extent of irrigation development since the Master Plan was prepared will be reviewed.
|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
Nepal's National Adaptation Programme of Action for climate change notes that Nepal, as largely an agrarian economy, is highly sensitive to changes in climate and natural resources availability. Climate change threatens to reduce the effectiveness of development initiatives across Nepal. In some regions increasing drought will impair food security and affect the availability of water resources, while in others, further increases in the intensity of rains will cause increased flooding and landslide risks threatening human security, water supplies, and infrastructure. The preparation of readily implementable water resources projects which address these issues is thus crucial to the Government's program to address both food security and climate change. The proposed Water Resources Project Preparatory Facility (the Project) will assist the Government's effort to ensure that critically important water resources projects are implemented efficiently by advancing the preparatory activities in a systematic manner, through planning and appraising high priority projects for potential funding by the Government and development partners. This will contribute significantly toward improving the implementation performance of the ensuing projects by reducing the gap period from project approval to commencement of improvement works, helping to achieve the intended outcomes efficiently and realizing their impact and benefits timely.
Through investment in water resources infrastructure, improved agriculture technology and extension services, water user training, and enhanced rural access over the past 3 decades, Nepal has significantly increased rural livelihoods. However, almost half of the districts, particularly from the hill and mountains of the far-western, mid-western and eastern development regions are still food deficient. The country's population continues to grow and with the current growth rate, the country's population is expected to reach 38 million (from the current population of about 24 million) by 2025. This means that, in order for the country to remain food sufficient, agriculture production will have to continue growing. Nepal's agriculture sector has become increasingly vulnerable in recent years due to erratic monsoon rains. In the dry season, without the provision of water through irrigation, few crops can be grown. However, at present, only 38% of the irrigated area is provided with water on a year round basis. On the other hand, during years of intense rainfall both crops and infrastructure are likely to be damaged. The provision of year round irrigation, both as supplementary irrigation during the monsoon season and full irrigation during the dry season is crucial to achieve the full potential of the country's agriculture resources. Moreover, protection from floods will both save irrigation infrastructure from damage and destruction while protecting standing crops. Overall, the incidence of poverty in irrigated areas in Nepal is about half of that in rain-fed areas. With irrigation the risk of crop failure is mitigated and farmers are incentivized to invest in more productive farming and high value crops. The provision of irrigation is thus a crucial input in meeting the country's food security goals, adapting to climate change impacts and improving rural livelihoods. In order for irrigation to have its full potential impact, it must be complemented by improved water distribution and efficiency, strengthening of water user associations, improved system operation and maintenance, improved farming technologies and marketing, and protection from catastrophic floods.
The Government's 2005 National Water Plan (NWP) aims at, by 2027, an increase in extent of irrigable land provided with irrigation facilities from the current level of 65% to 97%, an increase in year-round irrigation coverage from the current 38% of irrigated area to 67%, and an average cropping intensity increase within year-round irrigated areas from the current 140% to 193%. In addition it aims to put in place infrastructure to mitigate predictable water-induced disasters in 20 districts and to establish functional water induced-disaster warning systems throughout the country by 2017. Another important facet of the NWP is its emphasis on integrated water resources management (IWRM) which is recognized as a key principle governing water and energy development.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) Nepal Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) proposes that ADB and the Government explore interventions to improve food security including supporting greater availability of water and year round irrigation to help mitigate the erratic rainfall patterns of recent years. It notes that ADB will (i) introduce disaster screening into its operations in Nepal to ensure that new investments factor in disaster risks, and maximize mitigation measures; (ii) assist the Government in strengthening the capacity of agencies in managing disaster risks; and (iii) assist the Government to implement ongoing flood damage rehabilitation. The agriculture and natural resources sector roadmap for the CPS further notes that improved access to year-round irrigation would enable crop diversification and higher cropping intensities, thereby helping to alleviate food security concerns.
The Project will address several factors constraining the efficient upgrading of existing water resources infrastructure or the expansion of coverage to new areas, and enhancing prevention of water-induced disasters. These include an outdated irrigation master plan, the difficulty in identifying projects for funding without well-defined priorities, and the lengthy time needed to gear up and implement projects after their approval. For example, the Community-Managed Irrigated Agriculture Sector Project had a very slow start and it was 3 years after approval that physical improvement works on irrigation systems could commence. The proposed Project is to overcome this type of implementation delay for future projects. The Project will also address the need, brought out in the NWP and the CPS, to pay greater attention to climate-induced disasters, especially in the context of the country's vulnerability to climate change. In this context, the design of the individual projects and their components as well as the selection of subprojects will be based partly on the need to take into account and mitigate the likely impacts of climate change. The Project would be fully consistent with the Government's and ADB's priorities for enhancing climate resilience, ensuring food security, and promoting inclusive economic growth.