As a conscientious corporate citizen United Energy Pakistan (UEP) aims to make a difference in the lives of local people in areas where it operates. According to the Petroleum Concession Agreements signed with the Government of Pakistan, investment in community development must be made based on production. In the past, apart from this mandatory social investment spend, we have also undertaken significant expenditure on social investment on a discretionary basis.
UEP's social investment projects are initiated on requests from relevant local stakeholders which include members of the community, local government officers, district administration staff and political stakeholders. Applications from stakeholders are reviewed by our management. A requisite NOC also has to be obtained from the elected Member of the National Assembly from the area or/and District Commissioner of the concerned district; this is a requirement of the DGPC guidelines.
For implementation of our Social Investment Plan, we work in partnership with the government as well as credible NGOs. Social Investment Projects focus on three themes: education, access to health and facilitating income generation through capacity building.
We support local health services through financing the purchase of vital medical equipment for hospitals and building basic health centres within the local community. Other initiatives include providing anti-snake vaccine and anti-rabies vaccine for the community and training Traditional Birth Attendants.
We have also invested in the uplift of education in the concession districts, with a special emphasis on female literacy. UEP built the Degree College for Girls at Matli. More than 4,000 girls have graduated from the college so far, with many taking up professions like engineering, medicine and teaching. The only two higher secondary girls' schools in the entire district of Badin have been built by UEP. We have also constructed new primary schools in remote villages within the concession districts. In collaboration with The Citizen's Foundation, a reputable NGO in Pakistan, two primary schools are at final stages of construction in our concession area.
To deliver effective CSR projects we joined hands with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for sustainable community development and launched community welfare projects. These included projects such as the introduction of energy efficient technologies, livestock farming of indigenous species, cultivation of income-generating varieties of crops on saline land and other sustainable projects.
In times of need caused by tragic events and natural disasters we have provided humanitarian aid to help bring relief. When floods ravaged the country, in 2010, we donated US$ 1 million to the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to help bring relief. In 2011, when the Sindh province was hit by floods for the second consecutive year, we contributed more than US$ 250,000 to provide ration bags and tents for flood affectees in our concession areas. A detailed overview of some Social Investment Projects undertaken by us is shared below.
Inaugurated in 1994, Matli Degree College was one the first educational facilities in the area. UEP built the college at a cost of Rs. 10 million. More than 4,000 girls have graduated from the college so far, with many taking up professions like engineering, medicine and teaching. The college has a current enrollment of 730.
When first set up, Matli Degree College had a very basic computer centre. UEP upgraded the facility providing the equipment required to set up a credible institute. We also hired a technical instructor for the computer center ensuring young girls have the chance to learn vital computer skills, a prerequisite in today's job market.
Both the Higher Secondary schools for girls in district Badin have been built by UEP. The Government Girls Higher Secondary School at Golarchi, was built by UEP at a cost of Rs. 15 million. The school was inaugurated in January 2005 and has a current enrollment of about 500 students.
When the dilapidated structure of the Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Talhar became a hazard to the students, UEP stepped in and provided funds for a new building at a cost of Rs. 4 million. Construction was completed in June 2002. With an enrollment of over 600 students the restoration made it possible for girls of this community to receive quality education in safe premises.
Kario Medical Center (KMC) was built in 1988 with funding provided by UEP. Over time the building became dilapidated on account of overuse and the high-saline environmental conditions. UEP then partnered with the National Rural Support Program (NRSP) in 2006 for the rehabilitation and management of operations of the medical center. UEP invested US$ 200,000 from the discretionary spend for the rehabilitation of KMC.
In January 2009 with significant lobbying from UEP, the district government of Badin handed over operations of this facility to NRSP for efficient management making this the first model of its kind in Sindh province. Despite it being a government owned facility NRSP now runs KMC and not only manages expenses and day to day running but also has the rights to select and appoint staff members. Currently KMC provides 24-hour services of emergency care, X-ray facility, ultrasound, operation theatre, blood screening, TB treatment and mother and child health services.
UEP partnered with the UNDP Small Grants Program contributing US$ 200,000 in 2006 and then again in 2009. Both times UNDP matched the donated amount equally making the total spent on this program US$ 800,000.
Through this partnership, UNDP implemented various sustainable projects across Badin and Thatta districts, involving local grass root level NGOs from these areas, training those organizations and their teams and building their capacity so projects could be delivered.
Projects done under this partnership include, among others, raising crops on saline water in taluka Badin, improving built environment in coastal belt Badin, livelihood up-gradation through conservation of biodiversity for the coastal community of Badin, improving livelihood of fishing community in taluka Jati and conserving threatened skills of indigenous rug making in Badin.
Four schools were established in District Sanghar, Matiari and Tando Allahyar in 2002. Hashoo Foundation was initially looking after the academic and administrative control of these schools with expenses paid by UEP. However from March 2012 the schools will be handed over to local NGOs under the academic supervision of the Sindh Education Foundation (SEF). SEF will provide limited funding for the schools while the remaining costs will be borne by UEP.
About 650 boys and girls are being taught free of cost at the four schools.
Infant and Maternal Mortality rates in South Asia are alarmingly high. Due to restrictions on female movement and financial constraints, elderly women with indigenous practices are employed to offer 'gynaecological' services. However these Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) are not trained and have no expertise of providing proper reproductive health services.
Keeping this in view, UEP initiated an on-going training programme for TBAs in remote areas. The objective is to train these women in safe practices and in doing so decrease infant and mother mortality. The Program is conducted in partnership with local NGOs, Sindh Rural Support Program (SRSP) and HANDS. So far about 200 TBAs have been trained covering about 600 villages.
After training, the TBAs shared that they were more socially engaged within their communities, their rate of referrals to medical practitioners had gone up and as a result they were saving more lives than before.