KARACHI - The World Bank has approved US$50 million IDA credit to Pakistan to improve water resource management and enhance agricultural productivity in Sindh province. The credit from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Banks concessionary lending arm, carries a 0.75 percent service fee, a 10-year grace period and a maturity of 35 years. About half of Sindhs 35 million people live in rural areas and one-third of them live below the poverty line. Rural people, 70 percent who are landless, derive almost 60 percent of their income from agriculture. The additional financing for Sindh On-Farm Water Management Project aims to improve the efficiency, reliability and equity of irrigation water distribution at watercourse levels and enhance agricultural productivity. Under the additional financing around 3,000 watercourses will be improved, which comprises earthen improvements, lining, installation of concrete turnouts (pucca nuccas) and culverts in watercourses. Irrigation and drainage are critically important to Sindhs irrigated agriculture, which is the backbone of the economy, said Yusupha Crookes, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. The improved watercourses under the original Sindh On-Farm Water Management Project have made positive impacts in terms of enhanced and more equitable water supply and increased incomes by farmers. This additional financing will help extend these benefits to broader sections of the farming community in Sindh. The Province has about 42,000 watercourses and so far 17,000 watercourses have been improved/lined under various on-farm water management programmes, including the Sindh On-Farm Water Management Project. The additional financing will also support efforts to boost agricultural productivity through demonstration on tunnel farming for high value crops and training of farmers in improved water management, agricultural practices and new technology and information dissemination. Participation of the farmers themselves in irrigation management is vital for the long-term sustainability of the irrigation system, said Tumurdavaa Bayarsaihan WB Senior Rural Development Specialist and project task team leader. This project supports capacity building and social mobilisation of farmers in order to develop and strengthen sustainable Watercourse Associations which will participate in planning, designing and implementing the rehabilitation works and will also operate and maintain the improved watercourses.