Rehabilitation of SMEs key tool for achieving economic revitalization of KPK: Envoy

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ISLAMABAD, Aug 5 (APP):Rehabilitation of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) was key tool for achieving economic revitalization in the affected the most by militancy crisis in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK).

“We are witnessing a transformation of economy from low to middle income groups. As more jobs are being created and educational skills are being strengthened, we also see a stronger engagement and empowerment of the local communities, who are now making decisions that will promote peace, stability and economic growth in their areas.

This is indeed remarkable progress”, said Jakob Jakobsen, Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Denmark to Pakistan, during a visit to the Islampur Handlooms Weaving Cluster in Swat district on Friday.

According to a statement issued here Mr. Jakobsen was accompanied by Patchamuthu Illangovan, Country Director World Bank Pakistan as part of a three day visit to Swat to meet local beneficiaries of the Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF), which is being supported by the Government of Denmark and administered by the World Bank.

Islampur was one of the worst hit areas by insurgency and most of the inhabitants left the area during the military operation in 2008-09.

During the period, all handlooms were shut down and the stored raw material was damaged.

Upon normalization of the situation, more than 400 SMEs of the Islampur cluster applied for rehabilitation grants under the Economic Revitalization of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa & FATA (ERKF) Project being implemented by MDTF.

The Project has so far provided matching grants up to Rs 9.885 million resulting in rehabilitation of around 152 handlooms leading to growth in business and jobs opportunities now and more for the future.

The delegation also visited the Al- Falah Public High School, which was one of the many educational institutes, which was blown up by militants and had to close down.

Once it did reopen, the school was, like many other schools, fully or partially damaged and lacked basic infrastructure and facilities.

With the support of the MDTF, the school is now fully operational with more than 650 students enrolled and 33 teachers.

Commenting on support to education, Mr. Jakobsen said that the damage that has been done to educational infrastructure has also led to a low level of education
attainment and increasing gender disparities.

He highlighted that if all children were given access to education, global poverty would drop by 12%.

In response to the 2009 militant conflict that displaced an estimated 2 million people, the Government of Denmark has since 2010 contributed a total of US$ 12.1 million to MDTF to support the rehabilitation efforts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Balochistan.

Through eleven projects, the MDTF is supporting local services, growth and job creation and working on policy reform and governance including other interventions needed to build state-citizen trust and create conditions for sustainable development in the conflict affected areas.

Patchamuthu Illangovan, Country Director World Bank Pakistan said that “The Multi Donor Trust Fund for KP, FATA and Balochistan has reached an estimated 5.7 million people by improving services, supporting livelihoods and empowering communities. This has been possible through concrete partnerships, including with the Danish government.

“As we witness the impact of our work in Swat, we commit to sustained results in the coming years”.