LAHORE - The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) intends to initiate funding in South Punjab in different sectors like agriculture, livestock and rural development to eradicate poverty and enhance local economy, it has been learnt.

After completing survey to get basic information, the agency will start its funding in four districts of South Punjab including Multan, Khanewal, Muzaffar Garh and Bahawalpur.

The donor agency provides soft loans to the public sector to improve poorly managed areas, their capacity building, rehabilitation etc.

Official sources told that a delegation of the agency arrived in Lahore on Thursday, the provincial metropolis, to have meetings with senior officers of the Local government. They said after the correspondence between the agency and Punjab government, the Local government and Community Development (LG&CD) has already written letters to the district coordination officers (DCOs) of the said district. All the top district officers were directed to cooperate and provide all out support to the donor agency regarding information it requires to complete initial survey.

Sources further told that the delegation would collect information on role of community organizations in the area, cattle market management companies and Punjab rural areas.

An officer said that JICA also started project in an attempt to strengthen and improve the management and maintenance of the irrigation system; increase of water use efficiency and on-farm productivity. The project applied the results of former JICA support and Japan's 60 years experience for the water user associations named "Land Improvement District" (LID) through the collaboration with JICA's Yen Loan Project "Punjab Irrigation System Improvement Project" (PISIP).

The project aimed at establishing the model irrigation management system through in pilot areas which in turn contribute to the improvement of the management and maintenance of the irrigation system and increase water use efficiency and on-farm productivity. The Punjab government with the support of JICA has successfully completed the Lower Chenab Canal Rehabilitation Project in Faisalabad.

Moreover, the donor agency has been working in other parts of Pakistan. It also agreed to provide the Food and Agriculture Organisation for recovery and development of agriculture in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). It will fund amounting to Rs 500 m. The project would also benefit some 200,000 IDPs in KP and tribal areas.

An official who attended the meeting with the JICA delegation said that the Punjab government expressed gratitude to the Government of Japan for their support. He said that the government would utilise the expertise and financial support of the donor agency to eradicate poverty and improve local economy in the Southern Punjab.

Moreover, JICA, federal as well as provincial governments of Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan have agreed to implement a project relating to improvement of non-formal education titled "Advancing Quality Alternative Learning Project”.

The project will work to reach out to additional 2.7 million people of Pakistan; out of which 1.8 million are illiterate adults and 0.9 million are out of school children. Having duration of 50 months, it will complete in November 2019.