Unites States launches biggest ever single investment of $45 million in civil and social organizations in Pakistan

Karachi: US Consul General Mr. William Martin Friday launched the $45 million US Agency for International Development USAID Citizens’ Voice Project to increase citizen engagement in policy advocacy and governance in energy, economic growth, agriculture, education and health sectors.

Through project, the US government will issue up to 500 grants over next three years.

“The project represents the largest single investment in civic and social organizations in USAID’s 50-year history in Pakistan, and completes a set of US-funded civil society support programs that will exceed $100 million during next four years,” US Consul General noted while speaking at the provincial session of project launching at a local hotel here. The national launching was held on Nov. 16.

“Over the years, the United States Government has supported the civil society and the government of Pakistan in a wide variety of programs. This work is an essential part of the United States’ commitment to Pakistan and its people,” he said adding that this project will provide funding for various initiatives that foster citizens’ dialogue with government throughout Pakistan.

Recalling the United States’ cooperation with government and people of Pakistan since last 50 years, he said, ”Our two countries and people have worked on a number of priority projects in different sectors. Our partnership has led to creation of key educational institutions like Institute of Business Administration. We are also proud having contributed in construction of Tarbela and Mangla Dams. We trained lady health workers in rural and urban areas and in response to this year’s flooding, the US government provided Sindh communities immediate food supplies for more than 50, 000 families and safe drinking water and shelter for thousands more.”

William Martin said, “Pakistan’s civil society has been our staunch partner in many of the initiatives. We have worked together to improve social service delivery throughout the country. The non-governmental organizations have been indispensable to the relief and recovery assistance.

The Citizens’ Voice Project is one of the several grants projects funded by USAID to support various initiatives in Pakistan. The project is implemented by the Trust for Democratic Education and Accountability TDEA.

Mukhtar Ahmed Ali, Director, Citizens’ Voice Project for TDEA, informed the participants that the grants will be issued each quarter of the year. In the first round the Voice of Citizens’ Project is issuing grants up to a total of $2.6 million in the areas of oversight of municipal services, energy sector and water rights. The size of grants will be $50, 000 to $250, 000. Each quarter about 40 grants will be issued and the applications for the first cycle from the NGOs have been invited for which the closing date is December 02, 2011.

The project will cover three provinces – KPK, Punjab and Sindh. The areas covered in each of three provinces include Malakand division and Peshawar district of KPK, Sukkur, Larkana and Mirpur Khas divisions of Sindh and Bahawalpur, Multan and Dera Ghazi Khan Divisions of South Punjab. District or provincial NGOs are eligible to apply.

Deputy Director, USAID Democracy Office, Ms. Erin Krasik and former federal minister for information Javed Jabbar also spoke.

MQM leader and provincial minister Syed Sardar Ahmed, who was also present on the occasion, showed his reservations to excluding Karachi and Hyderabad from the project. He said only three divisions Sukkur, Larkana and Mirpur Khas divisions are being covered by the project.

Later, talking to media, US Consul General Mr. William Martin to a question told that funding to this project is being done under Kerry Luger Bill.

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