World Bank approves $149.7m funding to enhance Pakistan’s digital infrastructure, barrage resilience

DEEP ($78m) to support expansion of digitally enabled public services delivery for citizens and firms, while SBIP ($71.7m) to support better resilience to floods

ISLAMABAD   -  The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved $149.7 million in financing for Pakistan on Friday to support two projects. 

The Digital Economy En­hancement Project (DEEP) ($78 million) will support the expan­sion of digitally enabled public services delivery for citizens and firms, while the second ad­ditional financing for the Sindh Barrages Improvement Project (SBIP) ($71.7 million) will sup­port better resilience to floods and improvements in the reli­ability, safety, and management of the three Sindh barrages.

“The catastrophic floods that hit Pakistan in 2022 were a tragic reminder of the impor­tance to build resilience to such disasters, including by strength­ening barrages and their man­agement,” said Najy Benhassine, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. Also, supporting the growing digital economy in Pakistan is key for economic and social development, broadening connectivity and access to gov­ernment and financial services for citizens and entrepreneurs, particularly women.

The Digital Economy Enhance­ment Project (DEEP) will develop digital authentication and data-sharing platforms to enable Paki­stan to respond more effectively and efficiently to shocks, deliver better e-government services to citizens and firms, and support regulatory reforms in the sector, including to enable greater pri­vate participation, and strength­ening personal data protection and online safety. The project will also promote financial inclusion by enabling women in particu­lar, to open bank accounts or ap­ply remotely for credit through a smartphone application. It will also contribute to addressing barriers such as limited mobility and digital literacy.

“The digital economy and de­mand for digital government services have been growing across the country, increasing the need for connectivity, digi­tal payments, and secure and trusted digital transactions. The project takes a whole-of-government approach to digital transformation and will help ensure that digital platforms are inclusive and trusted,” said Shan Rehman, Task Team Lead­er for the project.

The second additional financ­ing for the Sindh Barrages Im­provement Project (SBIP) will support the full completion and commissioning of the Guddu and Sukkur barrages rehabili­tation works and improve the management of three barrages in Sindh including Guddu, Suk­kur and Kotri. Having safe and effective barrages to convey flood-waters downstream is a crucial part of building climate resilience in Sindh. The addi­tional financing will also con­tribute to strengthening the provincial Barrage Management Unit’s technical capacities, pro­moting women’s participation in emergency preparedness, and implementing extensive citizen engagement and stake­holder participation. “Barrages such as the ones supported by SBIP are critical for the liveli­hoods and climate-resilience of the Sindh province,” said Fran­cois Onimus, Task Team Leader for the project. “The project will increase the resilience of the canal systems that are fed from these barrages, reducing the ad­verse impacts of extreme floods and drought events.”

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt