The Asian Development Bank (ADB) yesterday signed two agreements with the government to give Bangladesh $111 million in loan to support the country's efforts to improve farmland irrigation systems and also to tackle river erosion.
The Manila-based lender will give $46 million to support the government's Irrigation Manage-ment Improvement Project designed to realise the full production potential of large-scale irrigation schemes.
The project expected to be completed in June 2019 will address the need for sustainable management, operation, and maintenance; increase water productivity and introduce innovative infrastructure modernisation, ADB said in a statement.
The project will specifically focus on modernising the Muhuri Irrigation Project in Chittagong.
It will also finance a feasibility study and detailed design for modernising the Ganges–Kobadak irrigation project in Khulna and the Teesta irrigation project in Rangpur.
The project aims to increase the average yield of irrigated winter paddy to four tonnes a hectare in 2019 from three tonnes a hectare in 2013.
The loan is the first tranche of the ADB's $255 million multi-tranche financing facility for the government's Flood and Riverbank Erosion Risk Management Investment Programme to reduce flood and riverbank erosion risks, and thereby improve livelihoods in the project areas.
The facility will help put in place riverbank protection structures and flood embankments along vulnerable portions of the Jamuna, Padma, and Ganges rivers.
It will also strengthen management of flood and erosion risks, as well as community-based flood disaster management capacity.
The first tranche loan of $65 million will target structural improvements in three high-priority areas.
The first tranche will provide infrastructure in urgent needs in three subproject areas, including riverbank protection structures at critically eroded sites.
It will also include non-structural measures in high priority sites of the selected three sub-projects, and the area coverage will be extended during the subsequent tranches.
ADB will provide the remainder of the $255 million in subsequent loan tranches.
Low-lying Bangladesh is vulnerable to floods and erosion, with up to 6,000 hectares of land swallowed up annually. About 100,000 mostly poor rural people lose land, crops and even homes each year as a result.
On top of ADB's funds, the government of the Netherlands will co-finance ing of $15.3 million, with the government of Bangladesh supplying counterpart funds of $103.4 million for the investment programme.
The activities under the first tranche loan are expected to be completed by 2018.
Mohammad Mejbahuddin, secretary of the Economic Relations Division, and Kazuhiko Higuchi, country director for ADB's Bangladesh Resident Mission, signed the deals at a ceremony at the ERD in Dhaka.
“The ADB assistance reflects the government's policies and strategies, and includes the development and implementation of holistic planning strategies for the country's main rivers as well as physical and nonphysical investments in the central part of the country,” said Higuchi.