Minister of Water Resources, Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe
The World Bank and French Development Agency (FDA) have concluded plans to establish a joint financing arrangement for irrigation and water resources management in Nigeria, with a total sum of $550 million.
A breakdown of the contributions by the international agencies to water development and food security in the country showed that while the World Bank would provide $400 million, the FDA would tentatively offer $150 million.
Speaking yesterday during the inauguration of the steering committee on Nigeria Irrigation and Water Resources Management, the Minister of Water Resources, Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe, said the project, which includes irrigation development and management, water resources management and dam operation improvement, project management, monitoring as well as evaluation, would commence immediately.
The minister said the fund will be used for all the necessary studies and preparation activities as well as infrastructural investment in the selected projects, adding that the sum of $3.5 million project preparation fund had been approved for the studies and design stage which includes grant of $.5 million from the FDA.
The initial project, when completed, according to the minister, would add over 52,000 hectares of land to the existing irrigation area, while at the same time, reducing the hazards potential of existing dams.
Continuing, Ochekpe said: “In addition, about 625,000 jobs would be created while 520,000 additional tonnes of rice and other cereals shall be produced through these investments annually. The project also has the potential to generate small unit of hydro-electric power to serve the project and its communities as well as boost fisheries and livestock development. These benefits are expected to increase as we are able to intervene in more projects with increased funding.”
She however said the $3.5 million proposed for the project preparation activities can only be used to fund one out of the three dams earmarked for the project.
The minister noted that the project, which is still at preparatory stage of studies and design, will require more funding, especially from other international and national development partners.
She enjoined the steering committee, which comprises of Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources and other ministries, including Agriculture, Finance, Environment and Power, to provide appropriate direction to the project preparation team and units undertaking the various tasks involved.
Responding, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, Mr. Godknows Igali, assured of his team’s readiness to ensure that the project is not only implemented, but that it is done as at when due.