World Bank suspends $200m Pakistani project

Balochistan has some of the worst health indicators in the country. (REUTERS)
Updated 01 April 2019
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World Bank suspends $200m Pakistani project

  • Balochistan has some of the worst health indicators in the country

KARACHI: The World Bank has suspended a $200 million project in Pakistan’s southwest, a spokeswoman said on Sunday, jeopardizing development work in one of the poorest and least developed provinces in the country. The water resource project, in Balochistan province, was due to be completed by October 2022.
But the bank has highlighted numerous problems with the project, including financial management and a lack of progress.
“For the time being, the project has been suspended for 30 days,” Mariam Altaf, a spokeswoman for the World Bank, told Arab News.
The Balochistan Integrated Water Resource Management and Development Project was signed three years ago and the bank committed to cover $200 million of the estimated $209.70 million cost.
“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.
“The World Bank has suspended the project and offered to work with the government of Balochistan over the next 30 days to restructure the scope and governance arrangements to more realistically begin to deliver sustainable water management to the province.”
Balochistan has some of 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, cannot be cultivated because of water shortages.
The project was designed to strengthen “provincial government capacity” for water resources monitoring and management and to “improve community-based water management” for targeted irrigation schemes in the province.
Azim Kakar, the spokesman for the chief minister, and Sajjad Ahmed Bhutta, additional chief secretary for planning and development, declined to comment on the suspension.
Adnan Aamir, a Quetta-based development expert, said provincial bureaucracy was to blame.
“The way government machinery operates is flawed and obsolete and can’t cope with modern day governance requirements,” he told Arab News.
“The suspension of this project will badly affect agriculture in the Nari and Porali river basin areas.”


Kenya reassures public after Ebola false alarm

Updated 15 min 46 sec ago
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Kenya reassures public after Ebola false alarm

  • Kariuki spelt out a list of preventive measures that Kenya had already taken

NAIROBI: Kenya sought to reassure the public and foreign visitors on Monday after a suspected Ebola case, which turned out to be negative, was detected near the border with Uganda.

Uganda last week reported three cases of Ebola, two of them fatal, among people who had been to neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where an epidemic has been underway since last August.

Kenyan Health Minister Sicily Kariuki said a 36-year-old woman in the western county of Kericho had fallen ill with headache, fever and vomiting, which can also be symptoms of Ebola.

Further examination found she did not have the disease, Kariuki said at a press conference staged at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

“The Rapid Surveillance and Response Team has examined the patient, who is in stable condition, and has confirmed that she does not meet the case definition for Ebola,” she said.

“I wish to reassure all Kenyans and our visitors that we do not have any cases of Ebola.”

The Ugandan cases were confirmed in a town that is more than 600 km from the border with Kenya.

Kariuki spelt out a list of preventive measures that Kenya had already taken.

They included the installation of thermal cameras at entry points to detect people with high temperatures, as well as isolation units to host suspected cases. More than 250 Health Ministry workers have been deployed at entry points as part of this strategy.

The minister called on the public to be vigilant, urging anyone with Ebola-like symptoms who had traveled to affected countries to go to the nearest hospital.