The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved $236 million in grants and credits to support Pakistan’s efforts to enhance learning and healthcare and address COVID-19’s threat to human capital accumulation.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Human Capital Investment Project ($200 million) and Balochistan Human Capital Investment Project ($36 million) will improve public services in education and health, which are the building blocks for human capital accumulation, said the statement released by the World Bank.

The projects aim to increase the productive capacity of the workforce to bolster future economic growth in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“Education and healthcare are at the heart of Pakistan’s vision for inclusive growth to enable its people to reach their greatest potential,” said Illango Patchamuthu, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan.

Human capital is about investing early in children and families. The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to roll back human capital accumulation in Pakistan and decisive actions are needed now to reduce losses through targeted interventions supported by the two projects.

These investments will help address barriers to accessing education and health services, particularly among low-income, vulnerable communities, where utilization of essential health services, especially primary care, and school enrollment rates are lower.

The World Bank said that in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the project will reach 25 percent of the population and help the government increase the availability, utilization, and quality of healthcare services in areas most affected by the pandemic. Education activities focus on learning opportunities for children at the primary and secondary school levels, particularly for girls and women, and take into account disruptions resulting from COVID-19.

“Investments in education and health services are crucial to strengthening Pakistan’s most important asset, its people,” said Cristina Penasco Santos, Task Team Leader for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Human Capital Investment Project.

The project will help address persistent human capital deficits that limit current and future economic development in the province.

In Balochistan, the project will support the government to improve service delivery by upgrading schools and health facilities in four districts, increase the accountability of service providers by strengthening community engagement, and improve efficiencies in service delivery systems, the statement added.

“Improvements in health and education services, especially in early childhood, have large payoffs for children and their families, by improving livelihoods and future opportunities to generate wealth,” said Yi-Kyoung Lee, Task Team Leader for the Balochistan Human Capital Investment Project.

The project serves as a model through synergistic interventions in education and health to bolster human capital accumulation in Balochistan.

Both projects are financed from the IDA18 regional sub-window for host communities and refugees. Pakistan applied for and became eligible to access the sub-window in 2017.

In addition to the two projects approved today, the Balochistan Livelihoods and Entrepreneurship Project and the National Strengthening Institutions for Refugee Administration were approved on March 3, 2020.

Together, the four projects leverage $128 million of grant funds, in addition to concessional financing from IDA, to support poor and vulnerable households living in select districts of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The World Bank Group’s COVID-19 Response

The World Bank Group, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries strengthen their pandemic response.

It is supporting public health interventions, working to ensure the flow of critical supplies and equipment, and helping the private sector continue to operate and sustain jobs. They will be deploying up to $160 billion in financial support over 15 months to help more than 100 countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery. This includes $50 billion of new IDA resources through grants and highly concessional loans.

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Originally Published on ProPakistani.com

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