ADB offers 100 mln USD to help improve Afghan irrigation: ministry

ADB offers 100 mln USD to help improve Afghan irrigation: ministry

KABUL, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) provided Afghanistan a grant of 100 million U.S. dollars to help improve its aging irrigation system, said a statement released by the Afghan Ministry of Finance on Wednesday.

"The grant fund is being provided through the Water Resources Development Investment Program, a multi-tranche financing facility, which will provide 303.3 million U.S. dollars over 10 years. The government has highlighted the importance and identified investments of 2.5 billion U.S. dollars for irrigation and water management under the Afghanistan National Development Strategy," the statement reads.

"Physical upgrades of the irrigation system are crucial for improving livelihoods and achieving financial and food security of rural households in Afghanistan. Improved irrigation systems, with the goal of boosting agricultural output, will promote economic growth and reduce poverty," said Afghan Finance Minister Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal.

"Thirty years of civil unrest has severely degraded water infrastructure and the capacity of the institutions that manage it, and the program will increase the productivity of irrigated agriculture through the rehabilitation and development of new infrastructure, capacity building and the strengthening of institutions," said Joji Tokeshi, country director of the ADB Afghanistan Resident Mission.

Only 12 percent of the war-torn country is arable and less than 6 percent is currently being cultivated, officials said.

Three decades of war and drought had a devastating impact on the agriculture sector in the mountainous country where over 80 percent of the population relies on agriculture.

The ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in the Asia and Pacific region through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members 48 from the region.