ISLAMABAD: The European Union (EU) will provide Rs11.1 billion to support the government of Balochistan 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 here on Friday by Ministry of Economic Affairs Secretary Noor Ahmad and EU Ambassador to Pakistan Androulla Kaminara.
The five-year 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 on strengthening 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.
Further, the European Union will also provide Rs3.4 million 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.
It may be mentioned here that 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.”