A mission consisting of IJsbrand H. de Jong (Sr. Water Resources Specialist and TTL), Ahmed Shawky (Sr. Water Resources and Environmental Specialist), Jeren Kabayeva (Project Operations Specialist), Dilshod Khidirov (Sr. Rural Development Officer), Fasliddin Rakhimov (Procurement Specialist), Galina Alagardova (Financial Management Specialist), Oydin Dyusebaeva (Team Assistant) and Robert Rout (Irrigation and Rural Infrastructure Engineer, FAO) convened in Uzbekistan from March 16 - April 5, 2011. A Social Development Specialist will visit the project later during the fiscal year.
The objective of the mission was to review (i) progress in the implementation of the Drainage, Irrigation and Wetlands Improvement Project (DIWIP), (ii) project compliance with the Bank’s safeguard policies, (iii) procurement and financial management arrangements and (iv) arrangements for monitoring and evaluation (M&E).
The mission met with H.E. S. Hamraev, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources, and Mr. B. A. Yusupov, Project Management Unit (PIU) Director of DIWIP and his staff. A list of people met is presented in Annex A. The mission also conducted field visits in the project area located in Karakalpakstan. The mission wishes to express its sincere gratitude for the assistance in facilitating the work of the mission and the hospitality extended.
The findings and recommendations of the mission were discussed in a wrap-up meeting held on April 5, 2011 that was chaired by H.E. Mr. Hamraev.
The project is making good progress in the implementation of inter-farm and on-farm I&D rehabilitation works, despite delays that were mostly incurred in the past (harsh winter conditions, fuel shortages). On-going contracts include additional works under MS/1, CAR/1 and D1/2, with scheduled completion dates of April 2011, July 2011 and June 2012, respectively. Submission and certification of as-built drawings and O&M manuals for these contracts still need to be completed.
Demonstration plots were established on a number of irrigation and agronomic techniques, as well as a Farmer Information Support Desk (FISD) with preliminary encouraging results. Training of Water Users’ Associations (WUAs) and water resources staff was completed in 2009 as per the project design, and all funds have been spent. Regional water management staff and close to 700 farmers have been trained, and training material has been prepared.
Despite the fact that WUA training was completed as planned, the mission is concerned about their continued weakness. In addition, the mission learned that local authorities have so far expressed limited interest in taking full advantage of the project’s investments to improve the quality of water management in the project area. This is likely to negatively impact the sustainability of the investments. The mission strongly recommends that receipt of a firm expression of commitment by local authorities and water resources specialists to adhere to rational water management rules is a prerequisite for any future investment operation in water management. More attention will also need to be devoted to strengthening capacities of WUAs to ensure full ownership and ability to take command of on-farm water management. This, in turn, requires direct involvement of local authorities, water resources specialists and WUAs in the design of such project.
The mission visited areas in Karakalpakstan that are part of the proposed South Karakalpakstan Water Resources Management Improvement Project (SKWRMIP). A Feasibility Study (FS) is almost completed that forms the basis for the project that is included in the Governments investment plans and in the current Bank’s Country Assistance Strategy.
Compliance with Bank safeguard policies is satisfactory, as is procurement and financial management.
The following agreements were reached:
The PIU will recruit, at least on a part-time basis, an environmental specialist to monitor implementation of the EMP during the construction of additional works.
The PIU needs to ensure timely completion of all as-built drawings and O&M manuals immediately following the works’ completion date.
Once the FS is completed, preparation of the SKWRMIP will start provided (i) the Bank receives a request from the Ministry of Economy; and (ii) there is confirmation of the IDA/IBRD envelope of the operation.
The mission would like to receive clarification on follow-up activities that have been taken in respect of the safety of Tuyamuyun dam, as outlined in the Environmental Management Plan (EMP). To that effect, the Bank will send an official letter to MoAWR.
The design of SKWRMIP needs to incorporate important lessons learned from DIWIP, including the need to (i) obtain firm expressions of commitment from local authorities to adhere to rational water management rules, (ii) ensure full involvement of local authorities and water resources staff in the design of the project, (iii) allocate adequate resources to WUA and staff training, (iv) ensure compliance with safeguard policies, including Dam Safety (OP4.37).
A more strategic perspective on water resources development and management in the lower parts of the Amu Darya river needs to be adopted. To that end, it was agreed that preparation of a comprehensive lower Amu Darya Water Master Plan will be included in SKWRMIP.
The Bank has received a request for budget re-allocation in the amount of US$218,000 from the project’s unallocated category, and will respond shortly.