KARACHI, March 31: The European Union (EU) Delegation to Pakistan, the Government of Sindh and the Rural Support Programmes Network (RSPN) started implementing the EU funded six-year long Sindh Union Council and Community Economic Strengthening Support (SUCCESS) programme in rural areas of the province. An inception workshop was held in this connection in Karachi.
The objective of the SUCCESS programme is to reduce poverty through undertaking Community Driven Development (CDD) based on the proven social mobilisation approach of Rural Support Programmes (RSPs). The programme will cover eight districts including Tando Muhammad Khan, Sujawal, Matiari, Tando Allahyar, Larkana, Kambar Shahdadkot, Dadu and Jamshoro.
Mr. Mansoor Abbas Rizvi, Chief Economist of the Governmen tof Sindh, speaking as chief guest, said that the Sindh government is fully committed to the programme and will soon extend it to 6 additional district of the province through the UCBPRP initiative. He said that for this purpose the government has allocated Rs. 5 billion in its current budget. He observed that one of the fundamental issues of development Pakistan is large population that becomes a liability if not engaged in productive activities. Referring to the speech of Mr. Shoaib Sultan Khan and success story of a poor women from the UCBPRP presented earlier in the event, he said, he is fully convinced that SUCCESS programme would change the dynamics of the lives of rural poor in Sindh and transform them into productive citizens. He thanked the EU for their support which will have sustainable impact on rural poverty in Sindh.
In his opening remarks, RSPN ChairperonsMr. Shoaib Sultan Khan shared with the audience that back in 2009, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah appreciated the strategies of the RSPs and approved the Union Council Based Poverty Reduction Programme (UCBPRP) for two of the most backward districts of the province. namely Shikarpur and Kashmor. Mr. Shoaib said that the UCBRPR worked only with women and empowered them not only economically but also helped them in attaining self-confidence, enabling them to improve their quality of life.
Quoting the Independent South Asian Commission on Poverty Alleviation (ISACPA) report, he said the centre-piece of a policy framework for poverty alleviation has to be the mobilisation of the poor in order to enable them to participate directly in the decisions that affect their lives and prospects. The major reason of poverty in South Asia is the public sector makes huge investments but does not create a receiving mechanism for delivery of goods and services at the grassroots. Commonly it does not effectively involve poor communities when planning or delivering ‘development’.
He further said that the key essential for good governance and a welfare state includes Administrative Pillar (Central, provincial and local governments, Judiciary, Police and Other institutions -from the PM/President to the Patwari), Political Pillar (National and Provincial Assembles, District & Union Councils) and Socio Economic Pillar (community institutions). Pakistan has the first two pillars but there is missing link of the third pillar – the social economic pillar. Without establishing and linking the political and administrative pillars with the socio-economic pillar (community institutions) poverty cannot be reduced. As none of the Federal Ministries, Provincial & District Departments or Elected Bodies have the capacity and mechanism to reach each poor household. It requires an institutional mechanism which has the resources of the government and flexibility of an NGO, such as Rural Support Programme (RSP). The RSPs through social mobilisation and organisation of the poor into their own institutions reaches to each and every rural poor household because poverty was at the household level and without economic empowerment of each household; poverty could not be eliminated. This way the RSPs complement and supplement the work of the government.
Mr. Fazal Ali Saadi, Programme Manager SUCCESS-RSPN presented the SUCCESS programme approach, its objectives, expected results and progress made so far. He said that as aprt of the SUCCESS programme, the partner Rural Support Programmes (RSPs) will be working in eight districts of Sindh to mobilise more than 770,000 rural poor households through their women members, adding that 37,213 Community Organisations (COs), 3,360 Village Organisations (VOs) and 307 Local Support Organisations (LSOs) will be formed to socially mobilise the women folk. He stated that SUCCESS programme will focus on fostering sustainable and financially viable network of community institutions to contribute to poverty reduction, and also to link the community institutions with the government service delivery departments. Through these institutions of the people, added, the programme will support the poor households with income and employment generating activities and micro health insurance. The community institutions will be provided grants to increase access to economic and social services through community infrastructures and productive assets operated and maintained with community involvement.
He further said that the programme will particularly focus on the household falling in the lowest band of poverty. For this purpose the RSPs have initiated a door to door poverty score card census in 6 out of the 8 programme districts. The RSPs have adopted the World Bank and BISP Poverty Score Card – a tool to identify poor households. Using the latest technology the survey employs Computer Assisted Personal Interviews (CAPI) where interviewers use portable tablet computer and the programme implementers have access to real time data. Based on the survey data the programme interventions will be targeted on the households falling in the lowest band of poverty.
Addressing at the occasion, Dr. Rashid Bajwa, CEO of NRSP pointed out that the recent poverty score card survey in Sindh shows raising trends in poverty level. He emphasized that policy makers need to consider this situation and make concrete efforts to help support the rural poor.
Members of SRSO Board, Chief Executive Officers of the SUCCESS programme’s Implementing Partners; RSPN, NRSP, SRSO and TRDP, representatives of Finance Department, Labour Department and Planning Department of Sindh govt, representatives of Union Council Base Poverty Reeducation Programme (UCBPRP), and representatives of civil society and media attended the SUCCESS Inception workshop.
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