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IHT receives Japanese grant to help rebuild livelihoods of artisans


ISLAMABAD: The World Bank (WB), as administrator of grants provided by the Japanese government under the Japan Social Development Fund, has signed a grant agreement of $2.8 million with the Indus Heritage Trust (IHT), a local non-government organisation (NGO), to fund a four-year project named Rang for developing artisanal livelihoods in rural areas of the country. 
WB Country Director Rachid Benmassaoud and IHT Chairperson Siddiqa Malik signed the documents at bank’s country office in Islamabad on Wednesday, says a press release. 
Japanese Embassy’s Economic Counsellor Naoaki Kamoshida, Economic Adviser Shoko Fujita, Australian high commissioner’s spouse and IHT Patron Susan Heyward and IHT trustees were also present.
The Rang project aims at improving the livelihoods of poor and marginalised artisans in Punjab and Sindh Provinces, and saving the cultural heritage of handloom textiles and embroidery work of the area. 
This project also takes an innovative approach to support artisans through the entire production and marketing process by helping them organise into groups and enterprises; bring about improvements in designs, input materials and production techniques; access financial services, marketing, trade facilitation, support services, skills enhancement and training at every stage of the process.
In Pakistan, crafts and related trades comprise 15 percent of formal sector jobs and 31 percent of informal sector jobs. More importantly, crafts is a sector dominated by women workers as women fill 54 percent of informal sector crafts jobs.  
The Rang project will directly benefit 2,600 artisans and 15,600 dependent family members while it will indirectly benefit many more families and households across 10 districts of Pakistan. At least, 70 percent of the beneficiaries are expected to be women. The lasting impact of the project will be the recognition of the “creative industries” and rich cultural heritage of Pakistan and rebuilding livelihoods of artisan families, whose income and survival depend on traditional crafts. 

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