$371m WB loans signed for agriculture, social sectors

Updated May 19 2020


The agreements were signed online. — AFP/File
The agreements were signed online. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the World Bank on Monday signed two loan agreements of $371 million to support projects in the agriculture and social sectors.

The agreements were signed online by Ministry of Economic Affairs secretary Noor Ahmed on behalf of the federal government, while representatives of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa signed the agreements on behalf of their governments. World Bank’s country director Patchamuthu Illangovan signed the agreements on behalf of his organisation.

These include a $200m Supporting Human Capital Accumulation in Punjab by Early Investment Project which aims to increase the utilisation of quality health services, and economic and social inclusion programmes among poor and vulnerable households in the select districts in the province.

The total approved cost of the project is $330m, including World Bank financing of $200m. The project is targeted to strengthen the quality of primary healthcare services, introduce a conditional cash transfer programme and support economic inclusion for young parents.

The project is also envisaged to strengthen the quality of early childhood education and lower primary education and increase the efficiency and sustainability of Punjab’s pro-poor initiatives.

The project will address gaps in human endowments by promoting skilled birth attendance, immunisation, school enrollment for early education and addressing constraints for income generating activities and diversification of income sources. The project will target the 11 out of 36 most vulnerable districts of Punjab. Among the 11 districts, eight districts are from South Punjab, where poor households are concentrated.

The $171m Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Irrigated Agriculture Improvement Project is expected to improve the performance of irrigated farming in the province. The project’s total estimated cost is $219.30m of which the remaining $48.30m equivalent in local currency would be borne by the provincial government.

The development objective of the project will be achieved through multiple aspects of performance by improving the on-farm water management by rehabilitating watercourses, introducing advanced irrigation technologies, and strengthening the capacity of communities, farmers and the On-farm Water Management Directorate.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2020