World Bank`s Pakistan flood control plan faulty

  • 14/12/2006

World Bank`s Pakistan flood control plan faulty A World Bank-funded flood control project in southern Pakistan was replete with design errors, violated several operational policies and directives and resulted into devastating flood disasters putting downstream people at risk, concluded a recent report by Inspection Panel, bank's own independent investigative body.

The investigation was initiated by the panel following request by affected people whose livelihoods were adversely impacted due to National Drainage Project (ndp) which was in conjunction with earlier bank-assisted irrigation projects in southern Pakistan. The findings of the panel report confirms in unambiguous terms that the bank's approach to the water sector in Pakistan has a narrow focus on economic benefits of irrigation, while neglecting ecological and social implications.

The panel says, "In the Indus basin, there is an asymmetry of costs and benefits of the irrigation and drainage system. In general, the upstream abstracters of the waters who use it for the irrigation receives the benefits while downstream people mostly in Thatta and Badin districts in Sindh province incur the costs.'

Launched in 1997, us $785 million ndp was aimed at addressing water logging and salinity in the Indus basin and it was partly funded by International Development Assistance. The project crucially depended on the functioning of the Left Bank Outfall Drain (lbod) and Tidal Link. Investigation by the panel found that the system of drains, levees and tidal link was designed to cope with storms of severity that occurred once in five years only. When in 1999, the cyclone hit the link; it couldn't withstand the devastating damage. According to the Inspection Panel, the alignment of the drainage canals was "technically and environmentally risky', and "technical mistakes were made during the design' of the canals.

The panel says without mincing words, "The lbod system, combined with the partial destruction of the tidal link, has heightened the risk to local people from flooding