ISLAMABAD: The World Bank has approved an additional financing of $35 million to support improved management, planning and development of water resources in the Indus River Basin in Pakistan with better environmental and social considerations.

The additional credit approved by the bank on Monday is financed from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank group’s grant and low-interest arm.

Given the importance of the Indus basin water resources for the country’s economic development and long-term benefits of investment in the water sector, the additional financing from the World Bank will help to enhance the government’s capacity to address basin level management of Indus water resources, including support to climate-change adaptation and mitigation measures.

Pakistan is among the most affected countries by climate change as its water, food and energy security is largely dependent on its glacial resources located in the Himalaya-Karakoram range.

The original Water Sector Capacity Building and Advisory Services project with $38 million World Bank support contributed substantially to the improvement of water resources management in the Indus River system.

It helped equip key federal water management institutions with modern state of the art tools, improving management skills of their staff and conducting studies to inform policy. This additional financing will help to scale up existing activities as well as to enhance capacity to address energy, water and food security issues.

The World Bank says the capacity of Pakistan’s existing reservoirs (Tarbela, Mangla and Chashma) has declined by 27 per cent and the cumulative decline will increase to 35 per cent by 2021 and to 57 per cent by 2025. It is estimated that if no new storage is built, canal diversion will decrease over the next decade.

The government estimates that the country needs to at least double its storage capacity – an increase of 1.8 million acre feet (MAF) by 2025 in order to meet the projected water requirements. The storage is also required for generation of hydropower which is a key component of the energy system and on which reliance is expected to increase in future.

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