ADB, Japan pump in funds to help Balochistan overcome water scarcity issues

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The Asian Development Bank’s Country Director Ms. Xiaohong Yang and Balochistan’s additional chief secretary Mr. Sajjad Bhutta are signing agreement at CM Secretariat, Quetta here on Saturday. Chief Minister Balochistan Jam Kamal Khan and his cabinet members are also present. (Photo by CM House Media)
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Chief Minister of Balochistan, Jam Kamal Khan, and the Asian Development Bank’s Country Director Ms Xiaohong Yang are discussing matter of mutual interest at CM Secretariat, Quetta here on Saturday. (Photo by CM House Media)
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Cracks emerge in the earth in Chagai due to drought in Balochistan. (AN photo by Waqar Reki)
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The date trees have dried up in Chagai district of Balochistan. (AN photo by Waqar Reki)
Updated 05 January 2019

ADB, Japan pump in funds to help Balochistan overcome water scarcity issues

  • More than 100,000 families affected by lack of resources, provincial home minister says
  • Loan for funding of various projects aimed at overcoming drought-related problems

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."

Women hopeful as Pakistan parliamentary committee approves bill granting fathers paternal leave

Updated 15 min 59 sec ago

Women hopeful as Pakistan parliamentary committee approves bill granting fathers paternal leave

  • Parental leave bill was passed by Senate in January and will be voted by lawmakers in the coming weeks
  • The regulation will apply to all institutions in Islamabad if passed and pave the way for its nationwide implementation 

ISLAMABAD: Women lawmakers and activists said this week they welcomed approval by a National Assembly committee of a bill which would allow fathers to take one month of paid time off on the birth of a child.
The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice this week approved the parental leave bill which was passed by the upper house of parliament in January. Lawmakers are expected to vote on the law in the coming weeks.
About 90 out of 187 countries around the world now offer statutory paid paternity leave, usually for a few days or weeks.
“Extremely happy and immensely proud that this important bill moved by me in 2018 has finally been passed by the NA standing committee on Law and Justice after their passage from the Senate,” Senator Quratulain Marri from the opposition Pakistan People’s Party, who initiated the motion in the upper house, told Arab News on Thursday.
In accordance with the bill, she said, at the time of the birth of the first three children, “the mother will get six months, four months and three months leave respectively and the father will get 30 days each time.”
If passed, she said, the regulation would apply to all government and non-government institutions in Islamabad, and pave the way for it to be implemented nationwide.
“I am hoping that the provinces will replicate the same once it is passed from the National Assembly in the coming weeks,” Marri said. “This might not seem like a very big step at this point of time but I think it’s important to change the mindset and introduce the concept of paternity leave and father’s bonding with the child and will prove to be a very important step.”
The NA committee’s chairman, Riaz Fatyana, said the bill would allow fathers to look after their wives after childbirth.
“This will be a good opportunity for male parent, father, who can look after his newborn child and wife,” he told Arab News.

A parliamentarian from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party, Naureen Ibrahim, said if the regulation were passed, it would help men learn to share childcaring responsibilities with women.
“It will be beneficial especially for working women,” she said. “They will get longer leave and also the father will learn about sharing the responsibility of parenting. Fathers will also take care of the child and will realize the difficulties which are faced by wives.”
Women’s rights activist Farzana Bari said the new law would help change the mindset of childcare being an exclusively female responsibility.
“There has been a changing concept of masculinity in Pakistan in recent time,” she said. “Many young educated males have started sharing the responsibility of childcare and domestic work. It [new bill] will be very helpful for them.”