A project to help families in poor settlements of Pakistan who were heavily dependent on uncertain rainfed agriculture was launched on Tuesday, with a $52 million loan by the Asian Development Bank [ADB]. Women will make up to 40 percent of the beneficiaries of the project aimed at rural areas in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province [NWFP] where 80 percent of the target population survives on the equivalent of US 50 cents a day, according to an ADB report. In NWFP, half the population lacked adequate nutrition and one third was landless, it said. Women were often malnourished due to a poor diet, a heavy workload and frequent pregnancies. They also lagged behind in access to basic education and health services, the report added.
“Society in NWFP is conservative and male-dominated. To reach women, the project will provide a number of interventions targeted at women through women’s organisations. The project will also support girls’ education, teacher training and health awareness to be provided by women,” ADB economist Robin Erickson. The bank will also offer logistical support such as multi-seat vehicles and separate living quarters and office space for women service providers. The project was a “starting point to give women a greater voice through consensus”, Erickson said.