28 Sep 2012 – 00:00 by OOSKAnews Correspondent

YEMEN, SANAA — The Yemeni government this week announced it was allocating $200 million USD for projects to improve irrigation and food security.

The funding is part of the Phasal Program for Development and Stability, adopted by the government for the period of 2012 to 2014.

The overall program is launching major projects to improve irrigation systems nationwide and upgrade water resources management systems to maximize their productivity.

According to government officials, some of the funding for the program will be channeled to food security efforts.

Improving irrigation systems will help increase the area of agricultural land available for cultivation, with the ultimate goal of increasing grain crops to end the severe food shortages people are facing throughout the country.

“The Yemeni government is badly in need of $11 billion USD to cover the deficit in the Phasal Program for Development and Stability,” said Mohamed al Saadi, minister of planning and international cooperation.

“The government will provide $3 billion USD for this program, and it expects to get $8 billion from the friends of Yemen and international donor organizations,” he added.

A conference of international donors, held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia earlier this month pledged $6.4 billion USD to the Yemeni government to complete its Phasal Program.

Yemen relies largely on its groundwater resources to support agriculture. According to the United Nations’ statistics, the country’s renewable water resources total about 2.5 billion cubic meters.

Total demand for water is estimated at 3.4 billion cubic meters, leaving a 900 million cubic meter deficit.

To close this gap, the government is considering a variety of options, including improving rainwater harvesting, improving irrigation efficiency and extensive groundwater exploration.

It is also considering desalination projects in the coastal plain areas to provide drinking water to cities there, however the main challenge to desalination remains cost.

Source: http://www.ooskanews.com/daily-water-briefing/yemen-allocates-200-million-usd-irrigation-food-security_24547