ISLAMABAD: The World Bank has granted Pakistan US $ 442.4 million for the strengthening of social infrastructure in rural areas of Punjab, including the rural water supply and sustainable sanitation project.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Government of Pakistan and the World Bank on Sunday signed the financing agreement of the “Punjab Rural Sustainable Water Supply and Sanitation Project”, said a press release issued by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (EAD). .
Economic Affairs Secretary Noor Ahmed signed the financing agreement on behalf of the government of Pakistan while World Bank Country Director Najy Benhassine signed the agreement on behalf of the World Bank.
The project aims to provide equitable and sustainable access to drinking water; improve sanitation; and reduce stunting in children in Punjab.
Project interventions will cover 2,000 villages, including 2,000 main towns and 8,000 small towns in 16 districts of Punjab which are the poorest and have the worst social infrastructure, in addition to stunting problems.
In line with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision to ensure equitable and inclusive socio-economic opportunities, eight districts in southern Punjab; Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, DG Khan, Lodhran, Multan, Muzaffargarh, Rahim Yar Khan and Rajanpur were included in the project.
In addition, eight other districts in central and northern Punjab namely Bhakkar, Chakwal, Chiniot, Jhang, Khushab, Mianwali, Pakpattan and Sarghodha were included after due diligence.
The project will have a direct impact on the lives of citizens and create employment opportunities in rural areas.
The government will invest in social infrastructure and improve service delivery to provide safe drinking water through profitable and sustainable investments; provide safely managed sanitation facilities to reduce the total faecal load in the village environment; and raise awareness and promote behavior change for better hygiene practices at household and community level to promote health and ensure the sustainability and quality of the water source.
Project interventions will directly benefit six million rural people in Punjab and help reduce the incidence of stunting among children aged 0-3 years (40%) in Punjab.
Minister of Economic Affairs Omar Ayub Khan appreciated the efforts of the World Bank, stressing that this was a flagship project that reflects the vision of the Prime Minister of Pakistan to invest in human capital and improve the level life of the population.
The Minister further said today’s event reflected the continued confidence of the IFIs in government policies, economic reforms and people-centered programs.
He reiterated the federal government’s commitment to provide all possible support to provincial governments in their efforts to invest in human capital by addressing the challenges of health and education; build resilience, improve service delivery and promote economic opportunities to ensure inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the country.
The EAD Secretary thanked the World Bank country team for their continued support to the Pakistani government to help achieve sustainable economic development in Pakistan.
World Bank Country Director Najy Benhassine ensured the continued financial and technical support of the World Bank to Pakistan to achieve priority development goals and promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the country.