U.S. Envoy Highlights U.S. Development Efforts in Earthquake-hit Areas

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Bagh, June, 13, 2012 - U.S. Ambassador Cameron Munter reiterated the U.S. government's support for the development of Pakistan while visiting two schools built in Arja community, Bagh District with U.S. funding. These two schools are among 51 education and health facilities that have been constructed in the Bagh District of Azat Jammu and Kashmir and Mansehra District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to help the area recover from the devastating 2005 earthquake.

"This school is concrete proof of the commitment of the American people to help build a more prosperous future for the people of AJK and Pakistan. You students, and all the students that will follow you, represent our shared hope for a brighter future," said Ambassador Munter to Arja community students, teachers, elders, and government representatives during his visit. Ambassador Munter was accompanied by his wife Dr. Marilyn Wyatt, as well as USAID Acting Country Director Karen Freeman.

USAID has built two schools in the Arja community –– the Girls College and the Government Boys High School. The two schools together have 958 students and serve Arja as well as 10,000 catchment populations in 16 surrounding hamlets and villages. By the end of 2013, USAID will have built a total of 77 education and health facilities in the two districts. All the buildings are designed to meet internationally recognized standards and provide access for the disabled.

"In addition to the major structural considerations in design, the buildings have been designed to protect life. Each structure is designed to have multiple readily accessible exits as required by the Uniform Building Code. This requirement comes from considerable evidence that multiple easily accessible exits enable people to escape from buildings in time to save their lives," said Tarek Selim, Chief of Party for the USAID construction program responsible for building these schools.

Raja Muhammad Roshan Johar, District Education Officer, Tasneem Kiani, Principal of the Girls College Arja and Sajawal Khan, Headmaster of the Boys High School thanked the Ambassador and American people for constructing high-standard and earthquake resistant school buildings in their area. They also appreciated the program's approach of involving the local community in the construction projects.