The grant, which was approved by ADB's Board of Directors, will assess existing irrigation systems' operations and maintenance planning, as well as their financing and implementation procedures, policy framework, institutional setup, and capacities.
Following the assessment, proposals will be made on new service agreements and alternative management models, including private-public partnerships and independent service providers that would manage and operate the systems.
The grant will address constraints uncovered by an ADB-supported technical assistance in 2005 meant to prepare the groundwork for a proposed $50 million loan project that will enhance the performance of major water management systems in Bangladesh. The loan is scheduled for approval in 2010.
The constraints identified in the previous ADB grant included the limited experience and skills of the government's Bangladesh Water Development Board and local stakeholders in effectively operating and maintaining large-scale irrigation projects.
Another constraint is the inadequate operations and maintenance planning and funding that lead to the deterioration of irrigation systems.
'Efficient and sustainable irrigation systems are central to boosting agricultural productivity and improving rural livelihoods,' says Yasmin Siddiqi, Water Resources Management Specialist of ADB's South Asia Department.
'The majority, or 44%, of Bangladesh's poor live in rural areas, which face low agricultural productivity and unreliable food supplies. Promoting agricultural growth is a crucial part of the government's strategy aimed at food security and poverty reduction,' she says.
Only around 4.5 million hectares out of the 8 million hectares of farmable land in Bangladesh is irrigated. The irrigated area contributes around 13 million tons of cereals, mainly rice.
The total cost of the ADB-backed technical assistance is $880,000. The Government of Bangladesh will provide $130,000 to complete funding requirement for the project.