KETI BUNDER - While living in the backyard of the civilisation of the biggest metropolis of the country, Karachi, one can only imagine hardships mostly generated by the nature, and inauguration of a Rural Health Centre (RHC), two schools (boys and girls), and a play ground is a huge occasion for the residents of Keti Bunder. Regional Vice-President (South Asia) of The World Bank Praful C Patel inaugurated a composite Rural Growth Centre, which has been established by the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) under an Integrated Area Upgrading Programme at a cost of Rs 9 million to provide a wide-range of facilities to the marginalised communities in Keti Bunder. This centre, a third generation initiative of the PPAF, consists of provision of infrastructure, water supply, sewerage and wastewater treatment, solid waste management and disposal system, improvement of educational and health facilities, fishing-related activity zone, street pavement, mangrove plantation, hard and soft landscaping, street-lighting and a cricket ground and a children play area have been completed for the benefit of the poor communities. The project is being implemented by the PPAF partner organisation, Aga Khan Planning and Building Services. In June 2007, high intensity torrential rains hit the costal belts following cyclone build up in the Arabian Sea, affecting 50,000 people in the Sindh and Balochistan. Around 6,000 people were affected in the areas of Keti Bunder and its adjoining localities in the coastal area of the province. In the wake of this storm, metal road leading to the Keti Bunder became unusable and about 100 electricity poles collapsed. An immediate critical priority of the project was to provide safe drinking water to the community. The AKPBS constructed 16 community water tanks inside the town along with sand filtration units comprising roughening and slow sand filters. Having significant importance with respect to its geographical location and plan to make this project a model for other rural growth centres in Sindh Coastal Area Development Program area, the project aims at an integrated development of settlements. The physical infrastructure interventions have been integrated within health and education services and social safety nets programme. Keti Bunder town is a Tehsil (Taluka) with a total of 195 villages. A vast majority of people are living below the poverty line and their dependence on natural resources has increased. Traditionally, agriculture, livestock and fishing had been the major sources of livelihood. The PPAF has launched a systematic and comprehensive programme to address land degradation and restore livelihood substantially of these vulnerable areas. Patel lauded the workers and commended the people of Keti Bunder. "I have made many visits to various parts of South Asia, but my impression is that you are the best. A year ago when I came here I met shocked people, saw devastated houses and inundated streets, but on seeing what have you done, I believe in future, you are really going to thrive. After getting these things, which are considered to be part of the basic amenities and after having met plain needs, you will start economic activity on your own," he said. APP adds: Praful C Patel said that the WB would continue to support PPAF in its efforts to reach the poorest of the poor in the nook and corner of the country with particular attention towards rural areas.