Controlling stunting: World Bank promises $63m to improve nutrition in Sindh

Delegation meets Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah

Our Correspondent January 28, 2017
Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah holding a meeting with a World Bank high power delegation. PHOTO: APP

KARACHI: A World Bank team has pledged $63 million to finance the Sindh Nutrition Programme in order to control stunting and malnutrition among children.

The promise came on Saturday after the World Bank delegation, led by its CEO Kristalina Georgieva, met Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah.

Giving an overview to the team, planning and development department’s additional chief secretary Mohammad Waseem said that the Sindh government and Unicef conducted a Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey, which made some startling disclosures on stunting.

Due to the shortage of necessary nutrients among girls before their marriage, the growth of children is stunted, leading to stunt rates of 48% in Sindh. The shortage of nutrition also affects the children’s height, said Waseem, adding that the wasting (thinness) rate was also measured at 15%.

The Sindh government has worked out a nutrition plan to provide micro nutrients to the mothers and their children right from their birth up to the age of five, said the chief minister. These supplements will also be given to girls who reach puberty, he said.

Shah shared that this plan will bring stunting and wasting rates down by 5% within the first five years, and another 5% in successive five-year programmes.

Restore old Karachi

The World Bank also agreed to finance $100 million into the restoration of Karachi’s old city areas, from Pakistan Chowk to Empress Market, said Shah. Under this project, the roads, water supply, drainage line, buildings and parks will be rehabilitated, along with the construction of some roads in Korangi and Malir.

The World Bank team said this project will be approved in March 2017 but it is a retroactive financing project so the Sindh government can start working on it right now. Shah directed Waseem to finalise the schemes so work can begin soon.

New barrage

Shah also brought up Sukkur Barrage, which he described as a lifeline of the agro-economy of the province that has been serving the people of Sindh for the last 83 years but has now completed its logical age.

“We have an option to rehabilitate it or to reconstruct a new barrage,” he said, adding that Sindh needs a new barrage even if Sukkur Barrage is rehabilitated. The entire canal system needs an overhaul, he said.

World Bank CEO Georgieva said she went through the case files that the Sindh government filed with the institution. The World Bank supports Sindh but it has yet to be decided whether the rehabilitation or the reconstruction project may be taken up, she said.

We need some more documents and study of the barrage before the final decision, said World Bank country director for Pakistan Patchamuthu Illangovan. Shah told Waseem to provide the World Bank’s Islamabad office with the necessary files.

Web portal for easy business

The Sindh government has also envisaged an `Ease of Doing Business Programme’, under which a one-window facility for businessmen and investors will be developed at the Board of Investment, shared Waseem.

Presently, an investor has to make multiple trips to 12 departments to get no-objection certificates for investment or to expand business activities, explained Shah. The one-window operation will help the investors and businessmen to get the required formalities completed without moving from one table to other.

The World Bank team promised to prepare a web portal for this programme.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2017.

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