Consisting of seven administrative Agencies and six smaller Frontier Regions, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are situated on north western side of Pakistan. It spans over an approximate area of 27,220 km2 and shares its boundaries with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the east, Balochistan to its south and Afghanistan to its west. Most of FATA falls in arid and semi-arid zones except parts of the Kurram and Orakzai agencies that fall in humid and sub humid zones.
Until 2006, decisions related to development planning were taken by the FATA section of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa P&D Department, and implemented by the line departments. In that year, the FATA Secretariat was established to take over decision-making functions, with an Additional Chief Secretary, five secretaries and a number of Directors. Project implementation is now carried out by line departments of the FATA Secretariat. FATA receives an annual share of ADP funding. In addition to the ADP, the PSDP provides separate funds for programmes and projects in various agencies and FRs, and contributes to donor-assisted initiatives.
Due to lack of understanding on ecological dimensions the projects formulated by the line departments and directorates do not take into consideration the effects and impact that projects would have on environment especially in the context of water. The limited technical capacity to address environmental issues is evident from the planning documents and implementation of projects in FATA. At the institutional level where conception of schemes and development planning takes place there are no environmental measures aided by institutional capacities, toolkits, guidelines and checklist to guide the development process towards ecologically sustainable changes.
For this purpose, the FATA Secretariat in 2015 has established an Environment Cell to ensure that environmental concerns and measures are taken care in the preparation of development schemes. The Swiss Agency for Development Corporation extended financial support and IUCN Pakistan provided technical support to strengthen the FATA Environment Cell under a project “Water Governance in FATA (Environment Cell). The Cell is housed in P&D Department and works in partnership with sectors related to natural resources having focus on ecological aspects of water governance.
The aim of the Cell is to improve the current development process by adopting the generic planning process covering aspects of project formulation, appraisal and at the same time addressing major ecological challenges being faced in sectors related to natural resources. The Cell provides technical support to line directorates in integrating the environmental concerns and measures in the development projects.