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US helping KP develop its health, education sectors: envoy – Newspaper

PESHAWAR: The United States, in collaboration with the federal government, is helping Khyber Pakhtunkhwa improve health and educational facilities, strengthen the rule of law, develop agriculture sector and ensure women’s empowerment and economic development, US Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome said on Saturday.

“Through a donation of $130 million from American people, the US government has completed Gomal Zam Dam, which increased Pakistan’s energy capacity by 17 megawatts, which is enough to power over 20,000 houses,” the US envoy told Dawn in an interview.

According to Mr. Blome, the project helped farmers in Dera Ismail Khan and Tank districts to cultivate more than 191,000 acres of barren land through the region’s first reliable water supply system that doubled agricultural production thereby creating economic opportunities for 30,000 households.

The ambassador said the money donated by people of the US is being spent through the USAID Mission in Pakistan through which 1,300km roads, including 652km highways, 35 bridges and two tunnels along the border region in addition to 1,240km roads in newly-merged tribal districts, had been constructed.

Blome says projects also launched to strengthen the rule of law, ensure women’s development

He said a total of 1,300 regional water projects completed to provide drinking water, irrigation besides spending $2.6m renovating 28 regular stations, training and construction of 420 facilities to boost up the rule of law.

Mr Blome said the US also trained 14,000 teachers and provided three million books to benefit 600,000 students along with assistance in the area of ​​higher education under which 8,500 university scholarships and competitive grants were awarded to deserving Pakistani students pursuing careers in agriculture and business management.

He said the US constructed 229 schools and rehabilitated more than 1,000 damaged due to militancy and natural disasters and thus, benefiting more than one million students.

The ambassador said over 3,000 women farmers received poultry packages and greenhouses in the province to facilitate their economic stability.

He said the role of private investors in the development of the province was vital as the US-based companies had signed a contract worth $600,000 with the provincial government to provide nano-degree skills training to graduates.

Mr Blome said the US government had supported six Ambassadors Fund for projects of cultural heritage preservation by investing more than $800,000 since 2002 and the money included $600,000 for the conservation of a Buddhist monastery in Takht Bhai area.

“Until now, 2,800 people from this province visited the US as part of educational programs. In the last six years, our government has incurred $1.3 million in lieu of public diplomacy grants to build capacity and train journalists, youth, entrepreneurs and people with disabilities,” he said.

The ambassador said $5.5 million was given away for the promotion of English language apart from financing 21 universities partnerships with US-based universities on various research projects and collaboration.

“We are delivering life-saving services for more than 340,000 women and children through multiple interventions in the region and have also trained more than 10,000 healthcare providers,” he said.

Mr. Blome also said equipment was given to 48 health units, including six teaching hospitals, in addition to financial assistance for the completion of 120-bed Burns and Plastic Surgery Center in Peshawar.

He also said allocation of $127m to establish centers for advanced learning in the areas of water, energy, and food security, has become leading institutions across Pakistan and globally.

“The US-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Energy at the University of Engineering and Technology in Peshawar is now the technical lead on conducting feasibility and solarisation for public colleges in tribal districts,” he said.

The ambassador said since 2008, the US government had supported more than 2.2 million displaced persons by providing more than $338 million in humanitarian assistance and facilitating 1.9 million to rebuild destroyed homes and resume their livelihoods.

Published in Dawn, August 7th, 2022

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