Discord over Norwegian-funded

project in Chitral  

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By Zar Alam Khan

ISLAMABAD: The Rs1 billion Norwegian funded Chitral Integrated Area Development Project (CIADP) will not produce desired results and is poised to create political polarisation in the area due to lack of clear plan and flaws in its execution system, development experts pointed out.

They said though the Norwegian government had taken a good step for development of Chitral, it did not take all the stakeholders into confidence before launching the mega project with the current district nazim from Jamaat-i-Islami as the head of its steering committee. Besides, questions are also being raised why Islamabad-based contractors, the Thrive, had been hired for management consultancy when there were non-profit making agencies that had already carried out a number of development projects in the valley.

About 10 to 20 per cent of the funds would go to the contractors, they said. Furthermore, there will be unnecessary expenditures on office hiring in Islamabad and Chitral by the contractors. Since the early 1980s, a number of NGOs have been working in the development sector and none of them has ever hired a contractor for execution of its schemes. Projects identification is done by the local communities and the schemes are executed on the basis of their feasibility. The contractors for CIADP have, however, neither taken local elected representatives of mainstream political parties into confidence nor briefed them about the schemes.

The project document is also silent on the much needed programme component - physically productive infrastructure projects. Besides, the contractors have not been able to satisfy the proposed implementing partners, community representatives and the beneficiaries on the modality of the programme and recruitment of the staff. The focus of the contractors has been on employing low-paid staff without considering its adverse impact on the quality of management.

MNA Shahzada Mohiuddin expressed regret that he was neither taken into confidence nor briefed about the project. He said the mandate of the district government had already ended and the future of the system was ambiguous. He claimed that the provincial government had also expressed its displeasure over the way it had been bypassed in launching the project. “The CIADP has been developed as if it is a slush fund for the district nazim. This is not good for Chitral. One person should not be in the deciding chair keeping in view the geo-political landscape of Chitral,” the MNA said, adding the JI nazim was taking undue political benefit from the project propagating that he had brought the funds for development of Chitral.

Mr Mohiuddin also objected to the formation of the project steering committee and said the area MNA, MPAs and representatives of all political parties should be included in it. He said instead of the district nazim the committee should be headed by the DCO who represents the provincial government and coordinates all development works. The district government overlooks only the portion of work controlled by the district assembly which is only a fraction of the overall development projects and does not include the provincial annual development plan and many other funding sources through the federal and provincial governments.Besides, the handlers of the funds are selecting projects sites without involving experts for feasibility study. Four areas have initially been selected and are being given lump-sump money with the task to carry out unspecified projects.


These areas are: Beori valley, Kargin, Chuinj villages in Mastuj tehsil, Nishkow in Molkhow and Runmbur in Kalash valley. The MNA said projects launched in these areas would not complete in four to five years because the localities neither have local support organisations nor sufficient manpower. It would have been more productive had the fund utilised for the development of infrastructure in whole the district. He said educational institutions lacked buildings and primary schools having two rooms each accommodated six classes. The funds could have been used for providing missing facilities including classrooms in schools, he added.

When contacted for comments, Terje Thodesen, Counsellor Development, and Terje Barstad, Minsiter Counsellor, at the Norwegian Embassy in Islamabad brushed aside the apprehensions and said they had completed all requirements and formalities before launching the project.

They said the project visualised in 2005 was launched on June 23, 2009, and would be completed in the year 2014 covering all parts of Chitral. They said the project proposals had come from the district government. During a Logical Framework Approach (LFA) workshop in 2007, all the stakeholders including the local NGOs were taken on board. In December 2008, they also held a meeting with the officials of the provincial local government department in Peshawar. The terms of reference were advertised and given to the local people. They said the Islamabad-based management company, the Thrive, won the project as no other firm took part in the bidding which was open to all. Besides, the aim to award the project to Thrive was that it is the neutral firm having no political or whatsoever affiliations in the district. The steering committee is headed by the district nazim while a representative of the firm is its secretary. They said funds were not given under the direct control of the district nazim as the project was being executed by the company while the embassy oversaw its working. The hiring of staff for the project was also carried out by the company, they added. They said they were always ready to brief any political representative about the project, but so far nobody has contacted them.--Dawn