World Bank Announces Over $800 Million for Flood and Disaster Prevention Projects in South Asia

This month the world bank has announced approval for several flood and disaster prevention projects in parts of India and Pakistan with a total cost of over $800 million.

In India, the projects include the Jhelum and Tawi Flood Recovery Project, costing $250 million, and the Andhra Pradesh Disaster Recovery Project, to restore, improve and enhance the resilience of public services and livelihoods of communities affected by cyclone Hudhud.

The projects in Pakistan include the Disaster and Climate Resilience Improvement Project, set up to support the restoration of resilient flood protection infrastructure and the strengthening of government capacity to manage disasters and climate variability.

Also in Pakistan, the World Bank has approved US$188 million to improve the reliability and safety of the Guddu Barrage and strengthen the Sindh Irrigation Department’s capacity to operate and manage the barrages.

Jhelum and Tawi Flood Recovery Project

The continuous spell of rains in September last year, caused Jhelum, Chenab and Tawi rivers including their tributaries and many other streams to flow above the danger mark. Due to the unprecedented heavy rainfall, the catchment areas, particularly the low-lying areas were flooded for more than two weeks. The Jhelum River breached its banks at several places. Over a million families were affected, directly or indirectly, and some 300 lives lost. More than 648,000 hectares of agricultural and horticultural land were affected causing huge loss to crops, plantations and animals

The $250 million Jhelum and Tawi Flood Recovery Project will allow reconstruction and recovery support to flood-affected areas in which public infrastructure and livelihoods were impacted severely. It will also strengthen the capacity of the state government to respond to and better manage natural disasters in the future.

World Bank assistance has been sought in rebuilding damaged public buildings, such as hospitals, schools, higher education buildings, fire stations, and selected block and district offices, and other important public buildings.

Disaster Risk Mitigation

A key component of this Project will be to strengthen and reinforce existing weak and vulnerable flood control infrastructure. Investments will primarily include rehabilitation/renovation of storm water pumping stations in several areas.

It will strengthen the capacity of government entities in managing disaster risks, enhancing preparedness, and achieving resilient recovery through the preparation of a Hydro-Meteorological Resilience Action Plan with a focus on extreme weather events; River Morphology study for some key rivers impacted by the disaster; and an urban vulnerability assessment among others.

“This region is highly vulnerable to natural disasters that can push millions into poverty. In addition to reconstruction, which includes reconstruction of roads, bridges and public infrastructure, the Project will also help the region be better prepared for the future,” said Onno Ruhl, World Bank Country Director in India. “The challenge is to build smarter, so that they do not undermine the fragile eco-system. It will incorporate lessons from previous national and global post-disaster recovery projects – to ensure that recovery is targeted, effective and more resilient to future disasters,” he added.

The World Bank also announced the Disaster and Climate Resilience Improvement Project (DCRIP) in Pakistan, which will help the regions of that country affected by the 2014 floods and exposed to recurrent flooding in the Jhelum river, as well as the Chenab,and Indus rivers.

Andhra Pradesh Disaster Recovery Project

Earlier this month, the World Bank approved $250 million credit for the Andhra Pradesh Disaster Recovery Project to restore, improve and enhance the resilience of public services and livelihoods of communities affected by cyclone Hudhud. The project will also increase the capacity of the state to respond promptly and effectively to an emergency.

The project will specifically benefit over 13 million people in the four severely affected districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam and East Godavari.

Andhra Pradesh is one of the most natural hazard prone states in India because of its long coastline and geographical location. About 44 percent of the state is vulnerable to tropical storms and related hazards. Out of the total coastal length of about 974 km, about 440 km faces coastal erosion.

Cyclone Hudhud made landfall on the coast of Andhra Pradesh in October 2014, near the city of Visakhapatnam. The Government of Andhra Pradesh was proactive and managed to evacuate close to 250,000 persons living in low-lying areas and helped limit the death toll from the cyclone to 61. However, it caused major damage in 26 cities and towns, in Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram, Srikakulam, and East Godavari districts, and affected about 9.2 million persons including 3 million urban population.

Through the Andhra Pradesh Disaster Recovery Project, the state will restore the damages caused to roads; public infrastructure including environmental services and facilities; and increase resilience of the power infrastructure as well as the resilience of its communities from impacts of future disasters.

“The coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh are highly vulnerable to natural disasters that can push millions into poverty. Apart from reconstructing public infrastructure that are environment friendly, the project will help the state be better prepared for the future by strengthening its disaster response system,” said Onno Ruhl, World Bank Country Director in India. “This increasing focus towards future oriented risk mitigation programs by India is a welcome step which will ultimately benefit millions of people vulnerable to natural disasters.”

Disaster and Climate Resilience Improvement Project (DCRIP), Pakistan

Also this month, the World Bank has approved US$125 million for the Disaster and Climate Resilience Improvement Project (DCRIP) in Pakistan, to support the restoration of resilient flood protection infrastructure and the strengthening of government capacity to manage disasters and climate variability.

Pakistan is vulnerable to adverse natural events and has experienced a wide range of disasters over the past 40 years, including floods, earthquakes, droughts, cyclones and tsunamis. Disaster and Climate Resilience Improvement Project (DCRIP) aims to enhance physical resilience through the restoration, rehabilitation and improvement of critical flood protection infrastructure.

“Disaster events can undermine hard-earned development gains, potentially trapping vulnerable groups into poverty. Therefore, activities contributing to resilience are directly linked to sustained development and allow the poorest – the most affected by such disasters – to escape cycles of poverty”, says Rachid Benmessaoud, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. “The project will strengthen the government’s capacity to better manage disasters through risk identification, institutional strengthening for improved management of disasters and enhanced fiscal resilience.”

The DCRIP will help the region affected by the 2014 floods and those exposed to recurrent flooding in Chenab, Jhelum and Indus rivers, where flood protection infrastructure will be restored to resilient standards.

One aspect of the project is to focus on technical assistance and institutional strengthening of disaster management and irrigation authorities. These populations will also benefit from increased capacity to identify, manage and respond to disasters and climate variability.

“The project will help in saving valuable lives, reducing casualties and reducing the magnitude of damage to private and public physical infrastructure including houses, commercial businesses, social assets, services, roads, barrages, agriculture produce, livestock, and vulnerable groups”, says Haris Khan, the Task Team Leader of the Project. “It will contribute towards creating a culture of resilience to disasters, and management of future risks and impacts associated with climate change.”

Sindh Barrages Improvement Project, Pakistan

Also approved was US$188 million project in Pakistan to improve the reliability and safety of the Guddu Barrage and strengthen the Sindh Irrigation Department’s capacity to operate and manage the barrages.

Sindh Barrages Improvement Project (SBIP) under which the Guddu Barrage rehabilitation will be carried out is needed due to natural ageing of the infrastructure. The rehabilitation work will eliminate possible sources of failure and potentially give the structure another 50 years of life.

“Barrages are strategic assets of Sindh and millions of people depend on the water that is controlled, diverted, and managed by them. Their continued operation and management require specialized expertise, experience, decision-making, and continuity of operation”, says Rachid Benmessaoud, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. “In addition to physical rehabilitation of barrage infrastructure, this project will also support the Sindh Government in training and technical assistance in procurement, financial, social and environmental safeguards for operating hydraulic irrigation infrastructure.”

The SBIP will support the gate replacement works to improve the regulation and the flow of the barrage, the replacement of all 65 main barrage steel gates, 25 main canal head regulator gates, and hoist gears including all mechanical and electrical equipment. This project will also finance the independent Panel of Experts, who will review, monitor, evaluate, and help guide the rehabilitation process with regards to the safety of the barrage.

“The Guddu barrage constitutes the most strategic component of the large Indus Basin Irrigation System. The effective operation and structural stability are important for agricultural production and for averting potential disaster during floods. Climate variability will further add risks by changing the frequency and intensity of extreme events such as floods and droughts”, says Abdulhamid Azad, the Task Team Leader of the Project.  “Thus, ‘no intervention’ is not an option.”

The primary beneficiaries include over 2.6 million people, across three million acres of irrigated land in Kashmore, Ghotki, Jacobabad, Sukkur, and Shikarpur districts of Sindh, and Nasirabad and Jafarabad districts of Balochistan, who will receive reliable supply of water and local communities in flood-vulnerable areas who will benefit from improvement in flood  management and reduction in risks of embankment breaches; since the capacity of the barrage to pass flood waters will improve.