ISLAMABAD: The Embassy of Switzerland in Pakistan signed two Memorandums of Understanding with the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) in Peshawar on Tuesday, to improve water governance in KP with a total funding of 5.1 million Swiss francs (USD 5.3 million).

Under the project titled ‘Water Governance in KP,’ the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) will provide an off-budget grant of 3.5 million Swiss francs (USD 3.56 million) to the Government of KP to support the improved management of water resources and ensure equitable access to safe drinking water in Peshawar and Mardan in 2018 and 2019.

The project is in line with the National Water Policy framework, Government of Pakistan’s decentralization policy and complementary to the Government of KP’s Annual Development Plan and Budget.

SDC funds will be managed by Water and Sanitation Services Peshawar and Water and Sanitation Services Company Mardan for the execution of project activities, and monitored by an independent project steering committee and respective boards.

In addition, a tripartite MoU was signed between the Government of KP, SDC and Swiss NGO Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation to support the exit phase of Water for Livelihoods (W4L) project in KP province.

The SDC will provide 1.6 million Swiss francs (approximately USD 1.7 million) to institutionalize the results of this project within the government and its line departments.

SDC has been supporting the W4L project since 2011 to ensure equitable access to water in ecologically fragile and semi-arid districts of KP. The project adopted a community-based approach to solving water issues in each district, and formed Water User Associations and Water User Groups comprising of community members.

It empowered women and contributed in solving water issues in their respective areas through small and medium-level water schemes and district-level Water Use Management Plans. The exit phase of the project will focus on institutionalization and strengthening of local leadership in the water sector and ensure sustainability of this model.

The exit phase will also focus on policy engagement with the government and relevant stakeholders for an Integrated Water Resource Management Strategy for the KP province.

The first MoU was signed by KP’s Secretary of Local Government, Elections and Rural Development Syed Jamal ud din Shah and Head of SDC in Pakistan Dr Stefanie Burri. The second MoU was signed by KP’s Additional Chief Secretary P&D Shahzad Bangash, Country Director of Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation Dr. Arjumand Nizami and Dr. Burri.

Swiss officials from the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs in Bern, Switzerland, currently visiting Pakistan also attended the signing ceremony. These were Nathalie Semoroz, Deputy Head of South Asia Division of SDC and Rudolph Von Planta, Deputy Head of Division Europe, Asia and Americas for Humanitarian Aid.

Switzerland has been delivering development and humanitarian assistance to Pakistan through the SDC since 1966. More recently, the SDC has concentrated its efforts on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). SDC interventions comprise humanitarian assistance as well as development cooperation.