World bank for improving water use efficiency in Pakistan

HYDERABAD: A world bank report on Pakistan’s water situation has pointed out that water availability per person is comparatively low in the country.

The report was shared at an event organized by Sindh Water Sector Improvement Project, which functions under Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority (SIDA), according to SIDA’s spokesman Hizbullah Mangrio.

He informed that the report stated that water wastage was an issue and agricultural yields were low compared to most other countries.

“Although climate change and trans-boundary issues are a significant hindrance for Pakistan’s water sector, the greatest challenges and opportunities are internal, not external, to Pakistan,” it noted.

According to the report, improving water use efficiency and productivity, delivery of water services in cities and in irrigation, and addressing environmental sustainability were the most pressing needs.

“While irrigation dominates water use in the country, the 4 major crops including rice, wheat, sugarcane and cotton use 80 percent of water but contribute only 5 percent to Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” it observed, adding that the poor water management was conservatively estimated to cost 4 percent of GDP or around $12 billion per year.

The report says that the costs were dominated by inadequate domestic water supply and sanitation and also include the costs of floods and droughts.

“Poor sanitation and a lack of wastewater treatment cause water-borne diseases that kill 40,000 children each year,” the report noted.

It also raised alarm over the degradation of Indus delta, the rivers and lakes which undermine the important ecosystem services.

The report underlined that without reform, irrigation water use would limit water access by industry and services sectors and constrain the economic growth.

“Attention must be given to increasing flows below Kotri Barrage both for the health of the delta and for Karachi water supply,” it recommended.

The report was prepared by the World Bank with external contributions from local and international water experts, including the International Water Management Institute and the International Food Policy Research Institute.

The World Bank, whose new president is due to be appointed by mid-April, is a global financial organisation whose mission is to end extreme poverty by supporting development projects.

Like its sister institution, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it was created in 1944 at the Bretton Woods Conference held in the aftermath of the war.

Since then, it has financed more than 12,000 development projects through loans and grants, and also provides technical assistance, with a heavy focus on infrastructure, like roads, dams and electrical grids.

The lender has 189 member countries, with more than 10,000 employees and 130 branches around the world.

It has grown from a single institution into a group of five entities, the largest of which are the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which lends to middle- and low-income countries, and the International Development Association, which provides concessional loans and grants to the world´s poorest countries. For fiscal year 2018, IBRD had total outstanding loans of $183.58 billion.

The biggest borrowers last year were India ($3.45 billion), Egypt ($2.18 billion), Indonesia ($1.8 billion), China ($1.78 billion) and Turkey ($1.4 billion). The largest IDA customers were Ethiopia ($3.12 billion), Bangladesh ($2.99 billion) and Nigeria ($2.59 billion), followed by Pakistan ($1.95 billion) and Kenya ($1.28 billion).

The World Bank Group also includes three units that work in private sector finance:

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), offers financing for private firms in developing countries.

The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), as its name implies offers investors guarantees against losses associated with non-commercial risks in developing countries. The International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), which provides international tribunal mechanisms to arbitrate investment disputes.

The World Bank says it is “not a bank in the ordinary sense but a unique partnership to reduce poverty and support development.”

It is governed by a board made up of representatives of its 189 member countries. The United States has by far the largest share of the votes but does not hold a majority.

US President Donald Trump´s administration has criticized the World Bank for lending to higher-income countries, especially China, which it says should have “graduated” because, as the second largest economy in the world, it can afford to borrow from financial markets.