The last column was a lament on the end of the Union Council Based Poverty Reduction Programme (UCBPRD) that focused on the bottom districts. Case studies carried out by the Rural Support Programme Network were appropriately titled, ‘The Road to Success’. The word success was picked up by the European Union to fund Sindh Union Council Community Economic Strengthening Support — SUCCESS — programme. It is built on UCBPRD experience, with more value addition. The focus on women as representing households was retained. Income generation activities, vocational training, local community infrastructure and connecting with public services were strengthened. One visited two districts, Dadu and Jamshoro, where the community is mobilised by Thardeep — one of the rural support programmes.
In village Gozo of Taluka KN Shah in Dadu district, the community built a CC block street, one of the nine infrastructure schemes completed at a cost of Rs2.73 million. As many as 150 persons were imparted technical and vocational skills, besides small grants to 85 households to start businesses. PINs, a nutrition programme, provides the topping through goat distribution, farmers field schools, agricultural demo plots, and support for fish ponds. In another village, Hoti Lakhair, an agriculture entrepreneur, narrated the success of his start-up by growing vegetables on half acre that grew into five acres. Ten more farmers followed him in a shift from traditional, water wasting crops to more remunerative ones without any support. A most interesting development was seen in village Allah Obahio where paddy fish farming economised on water use in rice cultivation. In time money made from fish was more than earnings from rice. This too led to replication by other farmers on even larger areas. In village Ali Sher Koria, paddy fish was combined with poultry, as its waste feeds fish. They were supported by Thardeep by proving cockerel, feeding and watering utensils and cadges to improve nutrition status of women and children. A woman in village Obohio got two goats for Rs28,000; now she has six, leading to improved nutrition of children.
These are critical initiatives in an area with averages for stunting and wasting far higher than the not so impressive provincial and national averages. There are similar projects running successfully in the Jamshoro district. In Taluka Sehwan Sharif, effective community mobilisation won a woman leader direct seat on the district council. An interesting project is the provision of drinking water in an area suffering serious contamination. A 2km pipe brings water from a solar-powered pump to the distribution point in the village. Again, a CC block street in Kot Achar Khan Lund, Taluka Manjhand has been constructed to link it with the main road. It is managed and maintained by a community organisation named Shahnaz. Community connectivity with the Forest Department has secured ten thousand saplings of trees to be planted by the community.
One can go on and on. Nothing succeeds like SUCCESS. But wait a minute. Like UCBPRD before, SUCCESS is also coming to an end next year. It covered districts other than the UCBPRD districts, a total of eight. Another six districts are being covered under the Peoples Poverty Reduction Programme. This still leaves out a lot many districts. As a young women community leader from Mohenjo Daro said the other day in the presence of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari: own us and we will take care of ourselves. This is precisely the message for the bottom-up plans of Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin. Here is the social capital you need. Own it and free it from discontinuous project funding. The bottom will not fail you.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2021.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ