Water Ministers Under Fire as Irrigation Projects Falter

Jul 8 , 2023

Appearing before members of Parliament's Standing Committee for Water, Irrigation & Lowland Development Affairs, Minister of Low Land & Irrigation Ayisha Mohammed, and her state ministers Endrias Geta and Berhanu Lenjiso (PhD), have conceded their Ministry is grappling with a series of setbacks, including missed deadlines, budget overruns, and project delays. Despite their tribulations, the Ministers claimed success in one area: the design and study of irrigation projects. According to State Minister Endrias, work has been completed on projects covering over 300,000hct, a threefold increase from the initial plan. However, of the 27 irrigation projects under the Ministry's purview, only 17 are under construction. Five are in progress, and five more have been suspended due to security concerns. The Ministers attributed the subpar performance to several external factors. Current economic conditions have led to budget constraints, while a shortage of cement is affecting the construction of irrigation dams. Security problems are another factor stymieing progress, along with the community's waning interest in these projects. According to Hanan Ahmednur, project manager, the over-commitment of contractors to other development initiatives is another reason for the delays. Minister Ayisha defended her performance before members of the Standing Committee, arguing that the evaluation should be based on the actual budget of 10.6 billion Br that was transferred to the Ministry, not the 15 billion Br initially appropriated by Parliament. It was an explanation met with scepticism by Mesfin Dagne, a member of the Standing Committee, who argued that projects should not have been planned if sufficient funds were not available. He mentioned the Omo Kuraz project with a 92pc initial plan and five percent completion reported by the State Minister indicating that there was no visible work done upon site seeing. Mesfin also questioned inconsistencies in the report, calling for further investigation.


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