The World Bank has approved a $300 million loan to help Pakistan address issues of climate change, health emergency and manage solid waste to reduce flooding chances in the largest city of the country.
The Washington-based lender approved $200 million for the Sindh Resilience project and $100 million for the Solid Waste Emergency and Efficiency project, according to an official statement issued by the bank’s local office.
These investments will bolster Pakistan’s efforts to build resilience to natural hazards such as floods and droughts in the Sindh province and will strengthen solid waste management in Karachi to tackle recurrent urban flooding and public health emergencies in the city, it added.
The $200 million has been approved in additional financing for the Sindh Resilience project worth $100 million, bringing total cost of the scheme to $300 million. In its latest monitoring report, the World Bank has declared progress on the project satisfactory.
“Building resilience to natural disasters and health emergencies is an important and urgent agenda in Pakistan, that will help save lives and protect the economy,” said World Bank Country Director for Pakistan Najy Benhassine.
The debilitating impact of recent floods in Karachi, droughts and extreme rainfall in Sindh, and of course the Covid-19 pandemic, make it imperative that risk reduction investments strengthen multi-sectoral dialogue and coordination at the city, provincial and national levels to ensure protection of vulnerable communities and fight the spread of disease, he added.
The additional financing of $200 million for the Sindh Resilience project will help the government better manage climate and disaster risks, including floods, droughts, and public health emergencies.
The project will strengthen linkages between disaster risk management and the health sector by establishing the Sindh Emergency Service to strengthen capacity for disaster preparedness and emergency response, including a health crisis such as Covid-19. The project also improves irrigation infrastructure to protect vulnerable communities living in rural areas, which will directly benefit 750,000 citizens in drought-prone areas of Kirthar Range hills and Nagarparkar region in Tharparkar district.
The lender has also given $100 million loan for solid waste management in Sindh.
“The establishment of Sindh Emergency Service will greatly enhance the government’s responsiveness to natural disasters and emergencies, particularly in a megacity like Karachi where many lives are lost due to insufficient emergency medical services,” said Ahsan Tehsin, task team leader for the Sindh Resilience project.
The project will also improve water security for rural communities that suffer from chronic malnutrition and poverty and are forced to migrate due to water insecurity, he added.
The $100 million Solid Waste Emergency and Efficiency Project (SWEEP) will improve solid waste management services in Karachi – Pakistan’s largest city with more than 16 million people – and upgrade the critical solid waste infrastructure to reduce urban flooding and public health risks.
The project focuses on emergency waste removal to restore storm water drainage capacity before the next monsoon season, especially in the vulnerable communities around drainage and waste collection sites.
The project will improve living conditions for at least half a million residents of Karachi and increase protection for workers by introducing safety protocols that improve labour conditions.
The scheme will also address deficiencies in the existing solid waste infrastructure by constructing and upgrading critical infrastructure, such as collection, transfer and disposal facilities.
It also leverages the Competitive and Liveable City of Karachi Project (approved on June 27, 2020) to advance long-term planning, policy reforms, and behavioural changes required to improve the solid waste management sector.
“Engaging citizens and community members, including informal workers, is essential for sustainable and safer waste management solutions,” said Suhaib Rasheed, task team leader for the Solid Waste Emergency and Efficiency project.
Equally important is the focus on financial sustainability, which will require continued efforts to develop private sector partnerships and sustainable revenue streams to offset the cost of delivering these vital services, he added.