Saturday December 03, 2022

World Bank commits $1.3bln to Pakistan for 7 projects

By Our Correspondent
March 27, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan signed seven project agreements worth $1.336 billion including $128 million grant with the World Bank on Friday, which would support initiatives in social protection, disaster and climate risk management, improving infrastructure for resilience, agriculture, human capital development, and governance.

Ministry of Economic Affairs Secretary Noor Ahmed signed the financing agreements on behalf of the government of Pakistan, while representatives from the governments of Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan signed their respective project agreements online.

World Bank Country Director Najy Benhassine signed the agreements on behalf of the World Bank. The signing ceremony was witnessed by Minister for Economic Affairs Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar, who thanked the World Bank Country Management for extending their continuous support to the government of Pakistan in achieving sustainable economic development in the country.

The agreements include $600 million financing from the International Development Association (IDA) for the Crisis-Resilient Social Protection Program (CRISP). This would support Pakistan to expand Ehsaas, the national poverty alleviation programme to protect vulnerable households and increase resilience to economic shocks such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, millions of families across Pakistan face economic hardship, particularly those working in the informal sector, who have no savings or are not covered by existing social safety net programmes,” Najy Benhassine, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan had said the other day. “This investment supports Ehsaas in developing an adaptive social protection system that is more efficient and offers a new model for crisis-response and increasing household resilience to future shocks.”

The programme focuses on the key initiatives being undertaken by Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) under the Ehaas Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programmes, namely Kafaalat, Waseela-e-Taleem, and Nashonuma. The financial inclusion and informal worker support initiatives of Ehsaas have also been included in the program.

A $200 million agreement has also been made for Locust Emergency and Food Security Project, which aims to strengthen and improve coordination between federal and provincial systems for locust surveillance and control. It further focuses on rehabilitating livelihoods of affected rural communities and farmers, and strengthening and operating the Food Security and Nutrition Information System. Broader perspectives include emphasising climate smart agriculture measures and women’s participation to effectively address the desert locust outbreak and to reduce vulnerability to climate change in the long-term.

Bakhtyar highlighted that this continued and enhanced support showed “the confidence of the international financial institution and development partners on the progress and reforms being taken by the present government”. He also reiterated the federal government’s commitment, and said he would extend all possible support to the provincial governments to address the financing needs necessary to overcome development issues.

In that light, the government has also signed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Human Capital Investment Project and Sindh Resilience Project worth $200 million each.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa project focuses on improving availability, utilisation and quality of primary healthcare services and elementary education services in Peshawar, Nowshera Haripur and Swabi, whereas the Sindh project focuses on health, water, and disasters.

The objective of the Sindh Resilience Project is to mitigate flood and drought risks in selected areas and strengthen provincial capacity to manage natural disasters and public health emergencies. It would support the establishment of the Sindh Emergency Service, including the development of six divisional headquarters operational facilities, provision of equipment, and training of personnel.

The project would also support the construction of 35 small rainwater-fed recharge dams in drought prone regions of Sindh including Karachi, Jamshoro, Thatta, Dadu and Nagarparker in Tharparkar districts.

Balochistan Livelihood and Entrepreneurship and Balochistan Human Capital Investment Projects worth $86 million aim to promote employment opportunities for rural communities; achieve sustainability of enterprises and improve utilisation of quality health and education services in various districts.

The World Bank has also agreed to provide $50 million for Supporting Institutional Interventions for Management of Refugees Project to improve organisational and institutional capacity for managing refugees and host communities, the statement added.