Discord over Norwegian-funded
project in Chitral
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
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