ADB approves $US 10 million grant to improve agriculture in Afghanistan

Manila, December 18, 2004 - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said it has approved a $10-million grant to improve irrigation networks and water resource management in Afghanistan.

The grant, from the ADB's Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, will address the problems of irrigation networks in the Balkh river basin in the war-torn country.

Water management in the area covering thousands of hectares has traditionally been organized under mirabs, or locally elected leaders responsible for the irrigation system.

A system for water allocation also existed, the ADB noted.

"However, 25 years of civil unrest has weakened these traditional institutions for water management," the bank said, adding that most irrigation systems are also in poor condition and lack modern designs.

The grant will go to rehabilitate and upgrade traditional irrigation systems, the ADB said.

It will also build "upon the traditional social relationships and institutions that have worked well in the past for irrigated agriculture" and strengthen water management through the "mirab" system.

The ADB's Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction was set up in 2000 with an initial contribution of about 90 million dollars from Japan, followed by additional contributions of 155 million dollars and a commitment of 50 million dollars.