KARACHI: The government of Balochistan signed an agreement with a major Asian lender on Saturday for a $100 million loan to overcome issues arising from water scarcity in five major districts of the drought-hit province.
In addition to the deal with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the government has also obtained financial assistance from Japan.
"The government has secured $5million from the government of Japan for these projects, for which the provincial government has also allocated Rs4billion,” Provincial Information Minister Zahoor Ahmed Buledi told Arab News.
ADB's Country Director, Xiaohong Yang, and Balochistan’s additional chief secretary, Sajjad Bhutta signed the agreement. Chief Minister Balochistan Jam Kamal Khan and his cabinet members were also present during the meeting which was held at the CM House in Quetta.
Buledi said the projects include utilizing water from two flood rivers passing through the Zhob and Khuzdar divisions.
Construction of the Siri Toi Dam in the Zhob division, improvement of the irrigation system in Khuzdar division, creating conditions to make 50,000 acres of land cultivable, ensuring plantation on nearly 11,000 acres, installation of telemeters along rivers Zhob and Moola, and increasing the capacity-building of personnel in the irrigation, agricultural, forest and environment departments are just some of the objectives of the project.
According to Buledi, the construction of two fruit processing zones in Khuzdar and Zhob divisions and installation of two olive oil processing plants in these divisions are also part of the scheme.
"The projects will leave a great positive impact on the lives of people of our province who are facing tough conditions due to drought,” Buledi said, adding that CM Balochistan -- in the meeting with the World Bank officials -- praised its role in the province.
Balochistan – the jugular vein of the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in terms of energy and infrastructure projects – has been the worst affected by the drought.
Speaking to Arab News last month, farmers from Kila Saifullah and Chaghi districts said that their crops and livestock were vanishing due to water scarcity issues in the province.
Last month, Home Minister Mir Saleem Khosa, who also heads the Provincial Disaster Management Authority, told Arab News that Rs500 million would be spent on relief, rehabilitation initially, with free medical camps and veterinary dispensaries to be established soon.
The drought has affected 109,330 families and 1,756,578 animals in 20 districts of the province, with the government ensuring the provision of free meals to people in affected areas, Khosa said.
“We will soon introduce a short-term and long-term solution to the issue,” he added. “Emergency cells will be set up at the district and provincial levels to gather data and provide immediate relief to the affected people."