Pakistan : World Bank suspends 200 million dollar Balochistan water development project

Pakistan : World Bank suspends 200 million dollar Balochistan water development project

Agency News

Karachi, Mar 31 : The World Bank has suspended a $200 million loan for Balochistan's water resource project . The reason for suspension of the project is due to lack of progress in project and fiduciary control, according to spokeswoman for the Bank said on Sunday.
The project aimed at strengthening the provincial government’s capacity for monitoring and managing water resources.
Mariam Altaf, a spokesperson for the World Bank said “For the time being, the project has been suspended for thirty days.
The Balochistan Integrated Water Resource Management and Development Project was signed three years ago. The Bank had committed to cover $200.00 million of the $209.70 million estimated cost of the suspended project.
“Unfortunately, there has since then been a lack of progress in managing the project, disbursing funds, proceeding with the civil works, and fiduciary control,” the Bank said in a statement on Friday, Arab news reported.
“The World Bank has today suspended the project and offered to work with the Government of Balochistan over the next thirty days to restructure the scope and governance arrangements to more realistically begin to deliver sustainable water management to the province,” the statement added.
The project was scheduled to be completed in October 2022 and has the objective “to strengthen provincial government capacity for water resources monitoring and management and to improve community-based water management for targeted irrigation schemes in Balochistan.”
Azim Kakar, the spokesperson of Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan and Sajjad Ahmed Bhutta, additional chief secretary planning and development, declined to comment on the project’s suspension.
Adnan Aamir, a Quetta based development expert, said the provincial government apparatus was responsible.
“The way the government machinery operates is flawed and obsolete and can’t cope up with modern day governance requirements,” Aamir told Arab News, criticising the provincial bureaucracy.
“The World Bank assistance was meant to improve water supply for agricultural purposes,” he said. “The suspension of this project will badly affect agriculture in the Nari and Porali river basin areas because provincial government doesn’t have its own resources for this purpose.”
“Incidents like this will discourage multilateral institutions’ support in any of the development projects in the future and this can have serious implications for funding and investments coming from other sources,” Balochistan Economic Forum's President Sardar Shoukat Popalzai said.
Balochistan is considered to be the worst health indicators in the country. About 62 percent of its population does not have access to safe drinking water and more than 58 percent of its land, which makes up 44 percent of Pakistan's total land mass, is uncultivable due to water shortages.