Project initiated to support fishing communities in Indus Ecoregion
Islamabad, Grant signing ceremony of WWF-Pakistan’s Indus Ecoregion Community Livelihood Project (IECLP), supported by the Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF) and the World Bank, was held at WW-Pakistan’s regional office at Islamabad. The project aims to provide alternative livelihood opportunities and to improve capacity of fisher communities in four priority sites of the Indus Ecoregion namely Keenjhar Lake (Thatta district), Manchar Lake (Jamshoro district), Chotiari Wetlands Complex (Sanghar district) and Nara Wetlands Complex (Khairpur district).
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Junya Matsuura, the Minister of the Embassy of Japan in Pakistan assumed Japan’s firm and long time commitment to support the people of Pakistan. ‘Working with World Bank, through the Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF), we have provided financial support to Pakistan in 15 projects, including this project, specifically in poverty alleviation, disaster management and agriculture sectors’. He acknowledged the work of WWF-Pakistan and informed that IECLP would provide trainings for better fishing practices, equipment for quality control, and technical advice for alternative livelihood for women and youth and hence, would benefit 5,500 households at four priority districts of the Sindh. He also shared that majority of the project beneficiaries would be members of fisheries communities, whose socioeconomic conditions are worse than those capable of generating incomes from crops. ‘I hope this project would directly contribute in improving the livelihoods of local communities, especially vulnerable people such as women, children and people with disabilities as well as conserving natural resource of Indus Ecoregion’, he added.
Speaking on the occasion, Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General WWF-Pakistan said that the Indus Ecoregion is one of the 40 most biologically significant ecoregions in the world and supports a large number of poor communities dwelling there. He shared that considering the poverty-environment nexus, the IECLP has been developed to conserve natural resources, enhance alternative livelihoods and reduce poverty. He said that the challenge of tackling poverty and reducing pressure on natural resources is so large that joint efforts of all stakeholders are required to address these issues. Anthony Cholst, Operations Advisor World Bank shared that IECLP contributes to the World Bank’s goal of promoting private sector development by improving business skills of the youth to become better fishermen, and to pursue alternative income opportunities through capacity building and investment in cottage industries?such as milk production, indigo production, and local recycling services. ‘This is important, because the ecological fragility of the Indus Ecoregion means we must avoid over-exploitation of the natural resource base. It also contributes to our goal of inclusion by increasing the incomes of some of the poorest households and working to increase their resilience to disasters, that have in the past, destroyed their livelihoods.’ More than 60 per cent of fishing communities in the Indus Ecoregion live below the poverty line and are typically the first to experience the consequences of natural disasters and weak natural resource management. ‘This is a great opportunity to bring together the economic development and poverty reduction agenda with the all too real need for conservation of these critical ecosystems,’ he added. Rab Nawaz, Senior Director Programmes, WWF-Pakistan, briefed the participants about IECLP’s objectives and expected outcomes. He said that the project will introduce sustainable fishing practices in the target sites. The Indus Ecoregion supports rich biodiversity, including unique birds and animals. He lauded the contribution of community based organizations which are working as active implementing partners for the conservation of natural resources. He also said that in the first phase of the Indus for All Programme integrated conservation and livelihood plans were developed with consultations with all relevant stakeholders. He shared that the project will focus on gender empowerment, awareness raising and capacity building of local fisher communities, and organize fisher groups/cooperatives and develop effective and sustainable market linkages.
WWF-Pakistan with financial contribution of the Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF), Government of Japan and support of the World Bank is implementing a three-year project titled Indus Ecoregion Community Livelihood Project (IECLP) in four priority sites of the Indus Ecoregion. The project focuses on enhancing the livelihoods of local communities through improved natural resource management. The specific objectives of the project are: (i) link farmers to markets to strengthen value chains; (ii) facilitate rural non-farm income; and (iii) reduce risk, vulnerability, and gender inequality.
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