Balochistan: 1.4 billion World Bank fund for Nutrition Project about to be Withdrawn

Quetta: According to sources within Balochistan government, a fund of Rs. 1.4 billion committed by World Bank will be withdrawn due to negligence and lack of interest of Balochistan government, learnt Balochistan Voices.
World Bank approved a grant of 1.4 billion for a project titled “Balochistan Nutrition Programme for Mother and Child” for 3 years starting in December 2014.
World Bank has provided loans for nutrition to other provinces but it has provided a grant to Balochistan given its severe nutrition crisis.
Target of the project was to improve nutrition in Balochistan which has been termed alarming by government itself.
Status of Malnutrition in Balochistan is alarming and this is proved by the related health indicators. 16.1 percent children in Balochistan suffer from acute malnutrition and 51 percent women suffer from the problem of blood shortage.
Experts relate malnutrition in Balochistan to high mortality rates in the province. Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) in province is 97/1,000 whereas Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) stands at 785/100,000.
However, project has not started functioning due to delay in recruitment of over 35 district staff members of the project.
First, recruitment tests for vacancies in the project were conducted by Health Department but then the tests were canceled by the department. It’s alleged by sources that Health minister cancelled the tests because his favorite candidates failed to qualify.
In August 2015, recruitment tests were once again conducted through NTS and candidates were selected after interview. However the formal appointment of all the district staff members is still pending.
There are reports that World Bank would withdraw its funding for Balochistan Nutrition Programme for Mother and Child if the project does not become functional by 30th April.
Project can only become functional if all the recruitments of the project in districts are carried out.
Candidates who have qualified test and interviews had even requested to a meeting with Chief Secretary Balochistan to discuss this matter but they could not get an appointment.
Dr. Nasir Bugti, Incharge of this project was not available for a comment when approached by Balochistan Voices.
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Adnan Aamir is founder and Editor of Balochistan Voices. He also works as an independent journalist covering politics, economy, and development. He is Digital Security Fellow of Reporters Without Borders 2019. He has also completed Chevening South Asian Journalism fellowship from the University of Westminster in 2018.