Horai River sub-project is part of seven sub-projects selected for rehabilitation and improved water management subject to a feasibility study under the Southwest Area Integrated Water Resources Planning and Management Project financed by the ADB, the Government of the Netherlands and the Government of Bangladesh.
The gross area of Horai River sub-project measures 18,600 ha, the net cultivated area 13,764 ha. The area is cultivated mainly with rice, jute, pulses, oil crops, wheat and vegetables by smallholders. The average farm size is 0.9 ha. The cropping intensity at present is 210%. Due to (partly) non-functional regulators the area suffers from annual flooding affecting some 7,503 ha of the total area.
Rehabilitation of the sub-project would involve construction of 3 new check structures, rehabilitation of 1 check structure, rehabilitation of 6 existing regulators and 1 new regulator. Further, excavation of 110 km of khals and strengthening of some 68 km of degraded embankment is needed. Offices and tube wells will be constructed for each of the 31 WMGs which will be established in the sub-project area. The total investment costs of civil works are estimated at Tk. 4,282.29 lac. The annual O&M costs of the rehabilitated system are estimated at about Tk. 175 lac, to be shared by BWDB and farmers.
To ensure proper water management and increase food production a capacity building and training program will have to be implemented. It is envisaged that 31 WMGs, associated in four WMAs, will take over water management from BWDB and beneficiaries need to be trained in O&M. The training of staff and WMGs on formation, organizational development and participation in construction and O&M comes at Tk. 64 lac.
Apart from capacity building in O&M farmers will have to receive training and support in improving and sustaining agriculture, fisheries and livelihood. Training will include class room training, demonstrations, Farmers/Fisheries Field Schools and excursions as well as refresher courses for farmers (male and female) in each of the 31 WMGs. The total capacity building and investment costs for agriculture are estimated at Tk. 165.28 lac; for fisheries Tk. 219.40 lac. and gender and livelihood the cost estimate is Tk. 84.14 lac.
The rehabilitation of the sub-project will have a major impact on agriculture and fisheries and to a lesser extent on environment. Due to the elimination of annual floods a more diversified cropping pattern and higher cropping intensity (238%) is expected. At present the total production is estimated at 193,049 tons; in the future the production is estimated at 234,232 t/year. Cereals production will increase with about 36,324 t/year. However, the extent and income of capture fisheries will substantially be reduced (- Tk. 126.06 lac). On the other hand, the expected increase in culture fisheries (Tk. 912.42 lac) will not only compensate these losses but will also facilitate increase in overall net production.
An Initial Environmental Study was carried out. There were no major negative environmental constraints observed, although the interventions will have a substantial impact on nature, agriculture and fisheries due to the absence of annual flooding. With respect to nature it is considered that the sub-project will be brought back to its 1990 - 1993 status.
Costs and benefits of the proposed interventions were assessed and analysed. The B/C ratios for the financial and economic analyses are 2.31 and 3.88 respectively. The economic and financial internal rates of return (EIRR and FIRR) were found to be 34.53% and 24.35%, respectively. The sensitivity analysis showed that with an assumed 25% increase in investment cost, a 25% decrease in benefits, and a lag in implementation of 1 year that the EIRR in all cases is higher compared to the opportunity cost of capital 12%.The calculated IRR is a conservative estimation taking into account only the agricultural and fisheries benefits.
The project is technically feasible, economically viable, financially profitable, socially acceptable and environmental-friendly. Considering the importance of people’s livelihood and improved water management leading to more profitable and sustainable crop production, this project is being recommended for implementation.