Nov. 14--The livelihoods and earning power of 320,000 poor rural households across Pakistan will receive a boost under an 82.6 million dollar accord its government inked in Rome on Tuesday with the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

The accord was signed by IFAD vice-president Michel Mordasini and Pakistan's ambassador to Italy, Nadeem Riyaz, IFAD stated.

"The programme includes social mobilisation, livelihood development and financial inclusion components," said Hubert Boirard, IFAD's country programme manager.

"It combines support for immediate needs with a longer-term plan, shifting households out of extreme poverty by providing access to a package of assets that include social services, vocational training and interest-free loans," he said.

The total cost of the new programme is 149.8 million dollars of which IFAD is providing 82.6 million dollars. The programme is in line with Pakistan's policies on poverty reduction and social protection, notably the government's Vision 2025 programme aimed at halving poverty by 2025.

The programme covers 17 districts and will focus on the 'ultra-poor' segment of Pakistan's population livinf in rural areas. Participants will receive support through skills development, business literacy training and access to credit, according to IFAD.

Women are receiving the same opportunities to make money as men under the programme, IFAD underlined.

Thirty percent of Pakistan's total population of 59 million people have been defined as poor and 61 percent live in rural areas where income levels are low and employment opportunities are limited, according to the government, IFAD said.

IFAD has financed 27 rural development programmes and projects in Pakistan since 1978, which have directly benefitted more than 2.4 million rural households or approximately 17 million people.


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