The USAID, in December 2010, launched its $50 million program in Lahore, Pakistan, together with a $40 million Gender Equity Programme, to help empower grassroots organizations and community groups. The program, with a focus on health, education, agriculture, governance, economic growth, energy and social assistance (rehabilitation of floods and other disaster affected areas), is the first of its kind launched by USAID which deals directly with local community organizations. This five-year initiative is being managed by National Rural Support Programme (NRSP), while the Gender Equity Programme is being implemented by Aurat Foundation.

Beth Paige, USAID Director of the Lahore Field Office, Charles Cutshall, the USAID Democracy and Governance Advisor, Seemi Kamal, Aurat Foundation and Shakeel Kakakhel, Chief of Party the program spoke at the Launch, attended by representatives of different NGOs. Charles Cutshall, who designed the program said, “We are selecting experienced people who can help us achieve our goals. the program is my child and I don’t want to spoil it”.

Ms. Paige said the goal of US assistance to Pakistan was tangibly to improve the well-being of the Pakistani people and to support the government in fulfilling its vision of a moderate, democratic and prosperous country.

The attendees were briefed about the program detail and the procedure to apply for the Grants, and were requested to be ‘innovative” in their grant proposal. The audience was also assured of complete transparency of the program.