$300m IDA aid sought for KP tribal districts

Published June 28, 2021
The project document says merged areas are worse compared to the rest of the country, with 56 per cent of the 2.2 million women without CNICs. — AFP/File
The project document says merged areas are worse compared to the rest of the country, with 56 per cent of the 2.2 million women without CNICs. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The federal government is seeking $300 million from the International Development Associa­tion (IDA) of the World Bank Group to help improve access to and quality of basic services in vulnerable communities in the districts recently merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Following the merger, residents of the merged areas have expressed increased expectations for improved service delivery, particularly in the areas of clean water, food security, education and health. In 2018, newly merged areas were brought under the legal system and governmental authority of KP government.

The ‘Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Rural Investment and Institutional Support’ project will focus on three key areas of support: community infrastructure grants to address rural infrastructure gaps; citizen monitoring of basic services delivery in key service sectors against agreed quality standards; and institutional development and community mobilisation to promote local capacity and to strengthen the transparency, accountability, and capacity of line departments to partner with communities for local development.

Residents expect improvements in health, education, potable water supply and food security

The project document made available to Dawn on Sunday says merged areas are worse compared to the rest of the country, with 56 per cent of the 2.2 million women without CNICs. There is also a risk that remote and historically underserved districts, including Kohistan, Tank, Dera Ismail Khan, Battagram, Upper Dir, Shangla and Hangu — all proposed project districts — which have traditionally received lesser shares in Provincial Finance Commission awards due to scattered and low populations, may receive similar lesser benefits from the project.

Given remoteness, lack of transport infrastructure, condition of the facilities and the conservative or patriarchal social fabric of the communities in these areas, women and girls are generally excluded from receiving education and primary health care.

The newly merged areas (NMAs) are spread over 27,224 square kilometres and subdivided administratively into seven tribal districts, each having a different tribal complexion and administrative headquarter. They are inhabited almost exclusively by the Pakhtun people. More than two dozen major Pakh­tun tribes populate the NMAs, with most tribal districts dominated by a few major tribes. Enmities and disputes, going back decades, over land and natural resources are common and the project will need to develop an approach to managing these local level disputes.

It will cover rural communities in fifteen districts that have the largest service deficits, according to the KP Planning and Development Depart­ment, including eight districts in the settled areas of KP and seven districts in NMAs. The geographical focus is justified by the fact that rural communities in these districts have some of the worst human development outcomes, lowest voice to demand services, and least likelihood of being covered through mainstream service delivery mechanisms due to their size and remoteness.

In addition, these areas have the lowest capacity or resources to address local needs. The project will fill these gaps through a combination of financing, technical support, and institutional strengthening. The geographic scope will be finalised during project preparation and may be extended in a phased approach.

Over the ten-year transition period, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will continue to receive federal government support to address these priorities, but Pakistan’s fiscal challenges are expec­ted to constrain the pace of development spending in the province to fulfill the vision of the merger.

Published in Dawn, June 28th, 2021

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