The World Bank announced on Wednesday the release of an $18 million loan to Armenia that will finance a further rehabilitation of rundown irrigation networks planned by the Armenian government.
World Bank officials said that the project, to which the government will contribute $3.4 million worth of its own funds, will result in the reconstruction of 110 kilometers of irrigation canals in seven Armenian provinces. That should restore irrigation on 6,500 hectares of agricultural land and reduce water losses incurred by many other rural communities.
“We expect this project to benefit more than 88,000 farmers across the country,” Jean-Michel Happi, head of the World Bank office in Yerevan, told a news conference.
Happi said the irrigation upgrades could also create more than 2,000 permanent jobs in the agricultural sector. “Job creation is an important dimension of this project,” he added.
“This Project supports the government’s efforts to improve agricultural productivity and boost long-term growth,” Assad Alam, the World Bank director for the South Caucasus, said in a separate statement issued in Washington.
The statement said the infrastructure project was essentially designed by the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
The MCC completed late last month a $177 million rehabilitation of other Armenian irrigation facilities which was financed by the U.S. government. The money was spent on the reconstruction of 6 major canals, 17 water pumping stations and the water drainage system of southern Ararat and Armavir provinces.
Visiting Armenia earlier this month, Patrick Fine, the MCC vice-president, described the project’s implementation as “outstanding.”
A lack of irrigation water is one of the main problems facing hundreds of thousands of Armenian farmers. Some of them have stopped cultivating their land as result.