Bloomberg News

Ethiopia Expects Decision on Funding for Irrigation This Week

June 21, 2011

June 21 (Bloomberg) -- Ethiopia expects the World Bank to decide this week whether to provide an additional $60 million of funding for an irrigation project in its Nile Basin, a Water and Energy Ministry official said.

The Washington-based lender provided $100 million since 2008 to support the Nile Basin Irrigation and Drainage Project, Hayalsew Yilma, program coordinator at the ministry, said in an interview yesterday in the Addis Ababa, the capital.

“We are negotiating with the bank for additional funding,” Hayalsew said. “It’s going to be presented to the bank’s board on June 23.”

The project aims to irrigate 20,000 hectares (49,421 acres) of land to help transform subsistence farmers in the area in northwestern Ethiopia into sellers of surplus crops. Studies are being conducted on the potential for an additional 97,000 hectares to be irrigated.

Ethiopia’s five-year growth plan aims to increase the amount of irrigated land fivefold to about 10,000 hectares by mid-2015, Hayalsew said. Bank funding may be forthcoming “as long as the projects do not cause significant harm to downstream countries,” he said. As much as 2.2 million hectares of Ethiopia’s 3.7 million hectares of irrigable land is in the Nile Basin, according to the ministry.

Increasing irrigation may boost food security in Africa’s second-most populous nation. About 3 million Ethiopians currently receive emergency assistance and another 7.8 million get food or cash under an aid program to support them, the United Nations said in April.

“Countries like Ethiopia are no longer looking at food security, poverty, and climate change separately,” World Bank spokesman Heather Worley said in an e-mailed response to questions on June 17. “Climate-smart agriculture and irrigation practices are key to solving food security issues and increasing crop yields.”

--Editors: Paul Richardson, Karl Maier.

To contact the reporter on this story: William Davison in Addis Ababa via Nairobi at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson in Nairobi at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.


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