To help Pakistan overcome a chronic, severe shortage of water, USAID has provided assistance with dams, hydropower plants, and irrigation systems. In March 2012, USAID/Pakistan initiated the Satpara Development Project. The $20.9 million project was to extend irrigation in the Skardu area of Gilgit-Baltistan, a semiautonomous territory formerly known as the Northern Areas. Drawing on a dam and main canals that USAID built under an earlier project, irrigation improvements were expected to boost both agricultural productivity and the value of agricultural products. However, the mission did not resolve two problems likely to hinder the sustainability of the improved waterways in Skardu. It did not broker an agreement on operation and maintenance—without which maintenance was not done and canals deteriorated—nor did it help settle water rights, which became contentious when environmental concerns effectively barred access to an important water source and greatly reduced supply. Flow through damaged main canals halted, and smaller water sources did not make up the deficit, lessening the project’s intended impact on agriculture. The mission agreed with our recommendation and expected December 2018 passage of a law that it helped draft creating a water board to resolve the outstanding issues.
Sustainability of Improvements Under USAID/Pakistan's Satpara Development Project Is at Risk
USAID/Pakistan Implement a plan to bring together relevant Government of Pakistan officials, Government of Gilgit-Baltistan officials, and water-rights holders to resolve the issues of maintenance and operation of the Satpara Development Project's irrigation system and water access rights.