Improving water courses with farmers’ support
WE all know the importance of water, more so because it is becoming scarce with our ever-growing needs.
River water reaching farms through watercourses in bad condition cause 30 per cent losses, which concerns 60 per cent agrarian population of the province.
To improve the situation, the Sindh government has launched the National Programme for Improvement of Watercourses (NPIW) in 2005.
Under the joint initiative of the government and farmers, more than 20,200 watercourses have been improved (lined and made pacca) so far in canal-fed of the province.
Material cost and technical aid for the improvement of watercourses are provided by the government whereas labour force is of the farmers.
The system is transparent where farmers themselves improve watercourses after receiving government assistance.
Needless to elaborate the importance of high-graded monitoring in any model of good governance in a mega projects like NPIW, where interplay of affectivity and efficiency is pivotal, a programme monitoring unit under the Sindh Chief Minister’s secretariat, has been set up to monitor its progress, as in other provinces.
Besides publications of field guides, annual reports and manuals for the District Implementation Committees, the PMU headquarters at Karachi and its regional offices at Larkana, Sukkur, Mirpurkhas and Hyderabad are working to establish NPIW throughout the province.
The NPIW has improved irrigation in the areas covered by over 22 per cent and farm income by 14 per cent. Waterlogged and salinised areas have been reduced by 18 and 97 per cent respectively. All this has increased employment opportunities by 47.96 per cent for permanent hired labours etc.
The NPIW is being executed by the Agriculture Department. At the district level, its execution and financial control lies with the district administrations. The role of PMU is not only to monitor and report, but also to coordinate and facilitate departments and stakeholders for the promotion of the NPIW’s aims and objectives.
The PMU has the distinction of being the first public sector organisation to have a geographical information system. At present the PMU has a digitised database of more than 42,000 and overall database of more than 55,000 watercourses of canal and barani irrigated areas.
This has fulfilled the requirement for future planning.
The process of digitisation is being continued by the PMU indigenously. Each watercourse can be seen as a red dot on the satellite map of Sindh at the PMU headquarters, Karachi, along with its data-file having multi techno benefits.
The PMU has been the driving force in making the NPIW a success story. Before the creation of PMU 6197 watercourses covering 17,04,175 acres were improved. After creation of PMU-NPIW about 323 per cent progress has been made and 62 per cent of the overall target has been achieved. Improved watercourses have facilitated irrigation of vast track of agricultural land in Sindh.
The writer is the project director of PMU-NPIW and special secretary to the Sindh Chief Minister.