EU provides Euro 58 mn for water security

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A.M.Bhatti

ISLAMABAD: The European Union will provide EUR 58 million (PKR 11.1 Billion) to support the Government of Balochistan in its efforts to address water scarcity and improve access and quality of primary and middle-level education in the province.

The announcement follows the signing of two new financing agreements today by Mr. Noor Ahmed, Secretary, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Ms. Androulla Kaminara, Ambassador of the European Union to Pakistan.

The five-year Euro 40 Million programme on water governance – to be implemented from 2021 – will contribute to the transition in the arid regions of Balochistan towards sustainable, low water intensive agricultural and livestock farming systems.

The support will include incentives for farmers to use water more efficiently and unleash the potential of livestock by supporting sustainable rangelands management, with a special focus on the most vulnerable groups.

 This will not only contribute to improved productivity by making better use of scarce water resources, but also help improve groundwater recharge in the medium to long-term.The programme will also focus onstrengthening public extension services to ensure farmers receive appropriate support on water for agriculture and livestock.

The programme will be implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with local partners. The European Union will also provide EUR 18 million (PKR 3.4 million) in support of the Government of Balochistan’s efforts to strengthen the education systems in the province.

The ‘Balochistan Education Support Programme II’, will work towards ensuring that all children have access to basic education and improving the quality of education.

The four-year programme will be implemented by the United Nations Children’s Fund – UNICEF. It will involve local communities in school development planning, help enhance the training of teachers, and support stronger education institutions.

In the COVID-19 context, the programme will also focus on SOPs for safe school reopening and operation, as well as on enrolment and retention drives in targeted districts to avoid massive dropouts due to the pandemic.

 The programme will also introduce innovative elements, such as work on inclusion of parallel education systems in mainstream education policy. Ambassador of the European Union to Pakistan, Androulla Kaminara said,“These new programmes are the result of a sustained collaboration between the European Union, the Government of Balochistan, and the Ministry of Economic Affairs to tackle the substantial development challenges in the province and unleash its potential.

Balochistan is one of the regions of Pakistan at greater risk from climate change, which threatens livelihoods. Also considering the socioeconomic impact of Covid-19, it is crucial to invest in low water agriculture to reduce poverty and malnutrition. In the education sector the EU is renewing its commitment to helping children, especially the most vulnerable, to receive an education and be able to follow their dreams, contributing to a better future for Pakistan.” Secretary EAD, Mr. Noor Ahmed hailed the EU and Pakistan’s long-term partnership and appreciated the EU’s support in Rural development, Education, Good Governance and Rule of Law under the Multiannual Indicative Programme (MIP 2014-20).

Ambassador of EU reiterated commitment of European Union to broaden and deepen the development cooperation with Pakistan, and to launch next Multi-annual Indicative Programme 2021-27 which will primarily be focused on priorities of the Government of Pakistan.