In Islamabad: Shahzad Sharjeel (92-51) 2279641
In Washington: Benjamin Crow (202) 473 5105
WASHINGTON, June 7, 2007 ─ The World Bank today approved a package of assistance worth US$451 million to help the Government of Pakistan improve education in Punjab and Sindh, enhance irrigation in Punjab, implement reforms in education and health in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), and eradicate polio throughout the country.
“Pakistan has in recent years made good progress towards improving human development indicators and reducing poverty and vulnerability,” said Yusupha Crookes, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. “But there can be no room for complacency. Only half of Pakistan’s adult population is literate and over 40 percent of 5-9 year olds are not in school, and poor health outcomes and high fertility will remain an obstacle to economic growth and poverty alleviation. Through improved schools, health facilities, and water provision, these projects will help the country make progress towards reaching the Millennium Development Goals and underpin prospects for high and sustained growth into the future.”
The US$130 million for the Second NWFP Development Policy Credit (DPC) is designed to broaden and deepen human development reforms in key sectors such as education and health. It will also build upon the momentum of reforms in fiscal and public expenditure management, governance, and growth, which were emphasized in the first DPC. The Province scores below national average on education and health indicators, and this operation will focus on expanding coverage and quality of education, health and social protection services, which are critical for sustained and inclusive economic growth.
The US$100 million for the Fourth Punjab Education Development Policy Credit supports the on-going Punjab Education Sector Reform Program (PESRP) which has now entered a second Phase. This operation will support the Province’s medium-term reform program to improve performance and quality of school education; improve school participation and retention rates; and reduce gender and regional disparities. Punjab has shown improvements in education with public school enrollments increasing by over 2.4 million over the past three years. However, about 40 percent of Punjab’s primary school-aged children are still out of school.
The US$100 million for theSecond Punjab Irrigation Sector Development Policy Loan will support reforms designed to improve management and maintenance of the irrigation system to ensure its long-term physical and financial sustainability. A well-maintained irrigation system is critical to ensure that the tail-end users get their water entitlements. Irrigation is a critical factor for Pakistan’s economy. About 80 percent of the arable land and 90 percent of agricultural output are entirely dependent on irrigation, making this a critical sector for rural development and poverty alleviation.
The US$100 million for the Sindh Education Sector Development Policy Credit is the first of a series of three operations designed to support the Government of Sindh’s Medium-Term Education Sector Reform Program. The program aims to increase participation of children, prevent dropouts and improve transition rates, reduce gender and regional disparities, and improve quality in elementary and secondary education. In 2004-05, the net primary enrollment rate was 48 percent in Sindh, compared to 52 percent for all of Pakistan, and 58 percent in Punjab. The primary school enrollment rate for rural girls was only 29 percent.
The US$21.14 million for the Additional Financing Credit for the Second Partnership for Polio Eradication will help supply the Oral Polio Vaccine for the country's Supplementary Immunization Activities during second half of 2007. The project supports the WHO-led Global Polio Eradication Initiative, and builds on the original credit, approved in May of 2003. Pakistan has made good progress towards Polio eradication through sustained and intensified efforts and the numbers of confirmed polio cases decreased from 324 in 1999 to 28 in 2005. However, the number of Polio cases increased to 40 in 2006andrequires intensification of eradication efforts, including a coordinated response to misperceptions about polio immunization in parts of the country.
The credits ─ NWFP Development Policy Credit, Punjab Education Development Policy Credit, Sindh Education Sector Development Policy Credit, and the Additional Financing Credit for the Second Partnership for Polio Eradication─ from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm, carries a 0.75 percent service fee, a 10-year grace period, and a maturity of 35 years.
The loan ─ Second Punjab Irrigation Sector Development Policy Loan ─ from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), are fixed spread loans, payable in 20 years, including 8 years grace period.