KATHMANDU, July 31 (Xinhua) -- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide 11 million U.S. dollars on a grant basis to help Nepal ensure that critically important water projects can be implemented quickly and efficiently.
"Delays in the start up of Nepal's water projects put the country's progress on improving irrigation schemes and preventing water-induced disasters at risk," said Jiangfeng Zhang, principal natural resources and agriculture specialist at the ADB in a news release issued here Tuesday.
"This funding should significantly speed up the process, and ultimately lead to better outcomes," he said.
The funds will be used to prepare potential projects aimed at upgrading irrigation schemes, improving irrigation efficiency, and preventing water-related disasters.
The funds will also be used for job training and social and environment capacity enhancement, to update the government's Irrigation Master Plan, and to set up a facility management unit.
As a largely agrarian economy, Nepal is highly sensitive to changes in climate and availability of natural resources, including water. Irrigation accounts for 87 percent of water use and remains the most critical input for food security.
Most of the opportunities to improve agriculture production in the country depend on improving the use and management of water infrastructure, advancing water use efficiency, and protecting crops and infrastructure from water-induced disasters such as floods, landslides, and land erosion.
"Irrigation infrastructure when combined with sound management system can double or triple crop yields, expand irrigated area, and dramatically enhance farmer incomes. So using this fund and preparing a number of projects for ready implementation with detailed design, procurement packaging, and empowerment of water user associations will greatly contribute to building Nepal's food security and climate resilience," said Kenichi Yokoyama, ADB country director for Nepal.