Vienna: The OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) has signed a US$50m loan agreement with Pakistan to support the wide-ranging Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Program. The program aims at lifting socio-economic constraints in a region of some 4.6 million people that has witnessed years of regional instability resulting in high numbers of internally displaced people who have lost their livelihood and homes.
The agreement was signed by OFID Director-General Suleiman J Al-Herbish and HE Ayesha Riyaz, Ambassador of Pakistan to Austria. At the signature ceremony, Al-Herbish spoke of OFID´s longstanding cooperation with Pakistan and briefed the Ambassador about the organization´s public sector lending, with approvals totaling over US$450m. The figure supports Pakistan´s agriculture, energy, education, health, transportation, industry and water supply and sanitation sectors. Al-Herbish also outlined OFID´s private sector and trade finance operations, as well as grant-based assistance.
With poverty levels reaching nearly 60 percent, the Pakistan government has formulated a return and rehabilitation strategy identifying the FATA region´s development needs. The strategy takes a holistic approach that focuses not only on the rehabilitation and reconstruction of damaged infrastructure, but also prioritizes the restoration of livelihoods. It also makes interventions in the fields of education, health and housing, and makes a commitment to introduce complementary institutional, legal and administrative reforms.
Against the backdrop of this strategy, OFID´s loan will co-finance the rehabilitation and reconstruction component of the program. The component targets basic infrastructure, ranging from schools, healthcare facilities, water supply and sanitation systems and roads, to energy generation and transmission lines, and irrigation schemes. Also planned are community-based disaster risk reduction initiatives.
Al-Herbish assured Ambassador Riyaz of OFID´s continued commitment to the government of Pakistan and hoped their “excellent ties” would continue to “yield even greater cooperation.” Ambassador Riyaz thanked the Director-General for OFID´s “excellent cooperation” and praised the institution for its commitment to improving lives and helping reduce poverty. She said the newly-signed agreement built on the strong relationship between OFID and Pakistan and represented yet another opportunity to make a positive impact on the beneficiary communities.
Other activities to be carried out under the program include: early recovery packages for around 200,000 temporarily displaced families via cash grants; housing subsidies; capacity building, stakeholder consultation, social mobilization and awareness campaigns; and strategic communication and monitoring measures.