ISLAMABAD: The Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) has adopted a two-pronged strategy for development of agriculture sector, which has helped bring down poverty in the Northern Areas.
"We have adopted a two-pronged strategy i.e. agriculture for poverty reduction and livelihood security and value and chain development in agriculture for improved access to markets for poverty alleviation in the area," Izhar Ali Hunzai, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the AKRSP, told a seminar on "Agriculture for Development" here on Tuesday.
The AKRSP is the largest development network in the region and playing an important role in the socio economic development of the area. "Over 20,000 farmers have been trained in improved cultivation, post harvest and drying methods," he remarked.
Izhar said that the AKRSP's interventions in social and agriculture sectors had helped in improving the living conditions of the people, especially the common man and the poverty in the area had also been brought down to 25 percent. He added that under the strategy, holistic and community-based approach to the National Resource Management (NRM) and livelihood security, extensive farming through community-led infrastructure, land, water, pasture and forestry development, intensive farming to increase productivity through prevention of losses and introduction of new technology and improved management practices, a participatory Research and Development service interventions had been adopted.
Regarding the value chain in agriculture, he said that selecting promising sectors and sub sectors with potentially large multiple effect, social organisation for aggregating small surpluses to generate marketable volumes, agribusiness intermediation for inputs and services, and building capacities of farmers and service providers, small infrastructure, including farm to market roads, physical and virtual markets and strengthening public sector capacity for standards, certification, access top information and enabling fiscal and pricing policy were the aims of the project. The AKRSP revolves around community-based organisations with focus on rural development.
Posted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 1:31 am Post subject: USAID - AKF / partnership, development, Afghanistan, AKDN
Remarks by Henrietta Fore
Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance and Administrator, USAID
Muslim Outreach Event
USAID Headquarters, Washington, DC
January 7, 2009
I am delighted to be a part of this important event that coincides with a new lunar and solar year along with the recent culmination of the annual Hajj. And I send my warmest wishes to all those who associate themselves with the annual pilgrimage.
Millions of Muslims have gathered from around the world to commemorate the stories of Abraham, Ishmael, Haggar and the building of a civilization based on the values of equality, egalitarianism, and equity. Today also marks the observance of Ashura - the remembrance of Imam Hussain's martyrdom.
And as we all look to this New Year, we are reminded of renewed commitments, responsibilities, and growth. It is in this spirit that we have gathered today - a diverse group - to learn, share, and build upon what works best.
During my own travels in Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, I have been struck by the tremendous power that is unleashed through successful partnerships between governments and the private sector.
In a world with ever increasing demands on resources, and with new and ongoing humanitarian crises, it is vital that USAID and other government donors reach out to and work with important actors in the international business and philanthropic communities.
For example in Afghanistan, USAID has created six public-private partnerships leveraging more than $7 million from private partners. One of these partnerships is with Cisco - the Cisco Networking Academies Program is training nearly 1,000 young Afghans (including more than 350 women) to install and maintain modern computer networks. This initiative will not only result in a trained IT workforce, but it will also provide Afghans with greater access to the Internet and on-line learning.
Further, active higher education partnerships are linking universities, publishing houses, on-line training providers and computer firms together to strengthen Afghan university digital libraries and on-line learning programs.
And numerous partnerships have been established to strengthen the productive capacity of Afghan firms, and improve their access to markets varying from marble quarrying to carpet production to agriculture.
In Indonesia, USAID works closely with the private sector to provide job training and foster youth employment. Following the devastating 2004 tsunami, Chevron and USAID joined forces to help Indonesia's government rebuild the hard-hit region of Aceh. It was clear that there were two complementary needs: infrastructural reconstruction and job creation. We met those needs by training an able workforce in the skills needed to reconstruct and rehabilitate their homeland.
One young resident in Aceh, Junaidi, had construction skills limited to pouring concrete, brick-laying, and other basic building tasks. Thanks to the joint USAID-Chevron training program, Junaidi has learned welding, masonry, electrical installation, and carpentry.
To ensure that these newly trained workers can put their new skills to good use, USAID works with Indonesia's Chambers of Commerce, road construction contractors, international organizations and others to hire trainees to full-time jobs.
Junaidi is now making door frames for new houses in Aceh, and with more and more houses being built, his hope is to eventually start his own construction company.
And in the Middle East, we have established 17 public-private partnerships, with 27 additional partnerships in the pipeline. USAID's work in leveraging private sector funds in this region dramatically expands the impact and sustainability of its programs. I see Ziad Asali sitting next to me today, so I know you have heard of our West Bank Public Private Partnerships.
And, we can do more. For example, over three decades ago, the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (DAC in OECD) used to meet and work with the Kuwait Fund and the Arab Fund. We must reinstitute this former partnership and again collaborate with the sovereign wealth funds in the Gulf and elsewhere.
Only by working with partners such as yourselves, are we able to make a real difference and continue to promote economic prosperity and good governance around the world.
Today's gathering was the start of an important conversation in the development community. We have heard what works, and we know what the challenges are as seen by those in the field.
As you have heard today through our distinguished panelists, we must engage in a more proactive and informed manner with community leaders, members, and all stakeholders. Meaningful development is a result of creating partnerships, building upon the capacity of existing community based organizations, and giving voice to groups such as the youth who otherwise feel uninvolved or marginalized.
We have also recognized the need for more expertise in how our missions develop, design, and implement programs conducive to a cultural context. Our efforts at USAID are demonstrating that culture does matter in programming, and that relevant development does not come in a cookie cutter form.
And, there is no doubt that partnering with the private sector, as well as non-governmental organizations, has helped to channel ideas, efforts, resources and cultural approaches. Leveraging outside resources to complement official aid has increased our impact.
For example, for decades, USAID has partnered with private faith-based groups and religious leaders, particularly in urban areas, to achieve shared development goals. The knowledge and organization of these groups expands the reach of our programs. In Egypt, a USAID grant supports increased participation of marginalized groups in civil society, working through religious leaders, as well as other local decision makers.
But challenges do still exist. We know that globally, one billion youth will be entering the labor market in the next five years and only an estimated 300 million jobs will be available for them. Nearly 70% of youth live in less developed countries where they face even greater obstacles for gaining education and employment.
We also know that the Middle East and some Asian countries continue to perform far below the norm when it comes to closing the gender gap.
Access to water is another critical issue in the Middle East and Asia - and one that must be understood and addressed in the context of the beliefs and traditions of the societies that are affected. Current estimates suggest that meeting the developing world's water sector needs will require an increase in annual investments of approximately $100 billion.
And the list goes on and on…
But I will end with one challenge for all of you here today as individuals and as institutions: What can we do next? And how do we do it? Together, we must use the lens of innovation, of creativity, and of true engagement to see that development cannot take place without understanding its environment, its context. So make a partnership with a person or around an idea you heard today.
We must create opportunities through virtual networking and dialogue. USAID has already taken steps to improve our communications with you. We are revolutionizing the way we share what we know. At Global Development Commons dot-net you can now search all USAID-funded project websites and all USG development information. That is over a thousand websites with over 1 million documents, and growing.
For example, in Jordan, we are building on an existing Arabic health website, sehetna.com, to bring the site to a broader audience and develop private sector partnerships to ensure sustainability of the project.
Before I end, I would like to thank our distinguished guests Undersecretary James Glassman, Special Envoy Sada Cumber, and Mr. Iqbal Noor Ali of the Aga Khan Foundation USA. I would like to again acknowledge the Aga Khan Foundation USA's 25th anniversary of its partnership with USAID on behalf of the Aga Khan Development Network; and offer my own congratulations to His Highness the Aga Khan on completing his 50th year as the 49th hereditary Imam of the Ismaili Muslims.
USAID will continue to play a leadership role, and will work with all of you, as partners, in the effort to ensure economic prosperity where it is needed most.
KARACHI: Far away from commercial markets, thousands of feet above sea level in the mountainous Gilgit valley of northern Pakistan, dry fruit growers are getting a price for their produce that is helping them sustain not only themselves but their villages too.
Since a Pakistani company became the world’s first Fairtrade certified exporter of dry fruits, these natives from the underdeveloped region are getting a minimum guaranteed price for their products plus a premium for investing in social welfare projects.
“In 2000, a farmer was getting an average of Rs22.5 per kg for dry fruits,” said Sher Ghazi, CEO of Mountain Fruits Limited, on the eve of World Fairtrade Day on May 9. “Now the same farmer earns Rs110 per kg.”
This became possible after the tasty apricots, dried apples, almonds and organic walnuts from the Northern Areas started being sold in European markets in properly packaged boxes inscribed with Fairtrade mark.
The world fair trade movement, which encourages consumers in developed countries to pay a little higher price for Fairtrade marked products, has started benefiting the locals, says Ghazi.
“Villagers have used the premium pool to build a vocational training facility for women, a kindergarten school and water tanks,” he said, adding growers are getting a premium of up to Rs28 per kg on certain products.
Lack of infrastructure like roads and cold storages have long stopped growers from Gilgit and surrounding areas to reap the fruits of their work. Moreover, traditional practices were too outdated to maintain fruit quality standards prevalent in other countries.
Mountain Fruits, which was originally part of a welfare project of Aga Khan Rural Support Programme, has also set up a factory in Gilgit to properly process dried fruits.
Affiliation with Fairtrade ensures welfare of around 1,200 growers on contract and 90 women working in the factory, says Ghazi. “Being part of Fairtrade, we have to pay our workers minimum monthly salary of Rs6,000.”
Growing awareness of Fairtrade among shoppers has started pushing firms to be more accountable in dealing with producers in developing countries, said a global survey released by Fairtrade Labeling Organisations International (FLO) on Friday.
This is all the more important in case of Pakistan where workers’ rights are often exploited with impunity in the manufacturing sector, industry people said.
Vision Technologies, a Sialkot-based maker of sports goods, has been using the Fairtrade mark on its footballs since 2005. “Fairtrade has helped increase our revenue,” says Malik Jameel, a general manager at the company. “What really matters is the international recognition of our football stitchers who are getting a fair price for their hard work.”
Regrettably, the government has not taken any step to encourage manufacturers and food companies to avail of benefits of Fairtrade labeling, which could help increase desperately needed share of Pakistani products in international markets.
Development of Gilgit-Baltistan Women urged to take part in politics
By Our Correspondent
HUNZA, May 28: Speakers at a workshop on Thursday stressed the need for provision of development-friendly environment in Gilgit-Baltistan.
The event aimed at initiating a debate on contemporary issues and future strategies for a gender-sensitive development process in Hunza and Nagar valleys. It was jointly organised by the Hyderabad Local Support Organisation and the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) in Karimabad.
A large number of women representatives of local support groups, civil society organisations, councillors and government officials attended the workshop.
Speakers stressed the educated women to participate in the political process in order to solve the problems of women. GilgitBaltistan lacked basic human and Constitutional rights which further worsened the role and rights of women in the region, they added.
Some speakers and partici pants, however, blamed the NGOs for depoliticising the society and “trapping great minds”. Based on the recommendations, an advocacy group would be formed to lobby for women-related issues in Hunza-Nagar, organisers said.
Mirza Hussain, adviser planning and development Northern Areas, said that the basic human and political rights of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan were being violated for over 60 years by the Islamabad-appointed bureaucracy.
He said that political marginalisation was responsible for the miseries of the people. The Kashmiris had representatives in assemblies of European countries whereas the people of Gilgit-Baltistan lacked representation even in the National Assembly of Pakistan, he said.
He stressed the women to develop a healthy political culture in the region.
Noorul Ain, advisor education and women development, stressed the women of the region to take Benazir Bhutto and other women as role models and participate in the mainstream political processes. She said the government had allocated 10 per cent quota for women in jobs.
She said men should give confidence to women in order to include them in the uplift process of the society. She stressed the need to develop proper strategies in order to provide employment opportunities for women as 70 per cent among the 370 graduated students of the Karakoram International University last year were women.
Izhar Ali Hunzai, general manager AKRSP, said that the changing socio-economic outlook of the region offered new roles and opportunities for the woman. A holistic effort from the government, private sector and civil society organisations needed to include women in the development process.
Ghulam Ali, Muzzafar Hussain Shah, Sajjad Ahmed, Parveen Ali Jan and Baba Jan also spoke on the occasion.
Local NGO Donates 205,570 Rupees to Swat IDPs
Posted: 11 Jun 2009 07:03 AM PDT
CHITRAL: To support and compensate the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) of Swat, Buner and Lower Dir social sector also helping them shoulder by shoulder of government.
Staff of Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP) of its 3 regional offices Gilgit, Baltistan, Chitral and Core Office Islamabad donated rupees 190,000 for IDP of these trouble area.
Regional Program Manager of AKRSP Chitral Engineer Sardar Ayub handed over Cheque worth rupees 190,000 to District Nazim Maghfirat Shah while District Coordination Officer Mutasim Billah Shah was also present on the occasion. Hence an other Non Government Organization Staff Conservation and Development Organization (SCADO) Chitral also collected donations from people of Chitral and a Cheuq worth 15,570 was handed over to District Nazim by president of SCADO General Musa for IDPs.
Addressing on the occasion District Nazim thanked social sector and people of Chitral as well as AKRSP staff of Gilgit, Baltistan, Chitral and Islamabad office for donation a huge amount for IDP.
NAs move towards self-reliance
By: Shahbaz Bhatti | Published: June 18, 2009
Ahmedabad Mini Hydel Power Project, having the 350KW power generation capacity, was built with the total cost of Rs 1.3 million (Rs 0.96 million contributed by PPAF while the rest by the local community). This tough project was completed in a short span of 15 months as the locals, both men and women, volunteered their free labour service. Executed by PPAF’s partner organization AKRSP, the project was inaugurated in July 2008 while its total annual maintenance cost is around Rs 400,000. Total power consumption of the area, that comprises 129 households or 852 population is not more than 120KW while the rest of 230KW power is still surplus. The project has brought with it a package of benefits as the surplus power could be sold out to the adjoining areas. Revenue of this outlet would be used for other welfare projects like healthcare, education, roads, transport and vocational schools in the area. The Pakistan Alternative Energy Board has also pledged to establish a workshop that would offer maintenance services to the project.
The project has started ameliorating the lot of the locals as it has opened a window of business opportunities, especially for marble industry, cottage industry, embroidery, wood cutting, fruits processing etc. in addition to minimizing fuel cost by reducing the use of wood and kerosene oil. Before the start of the project, women of the area used to spend most of their time collecting wood from far flying areas, but now they have started utilizing their time at home using electrical appliances like heaters, refrigerators, washing machines, water pumps, etc. The position of waterfall of the project also has a provision for installation of another power plant having 500KW power generation capacity but that could be executed at a later stage.
—The writer is TheNation, Islamabad’s News Editor
AKRSP will Reduce itself and Create Room for LSOs to Grow: An Interview with Izhar Hunzai, General Manager , AKRSP
KKH: Please give us some information about AKRSP? When and why it was formed and what are its main objectives?
IH: AKRSP was a new experiment in the long history of His Highness’s attention to this area. Many experts have commented on AKRSP’s innovative design and its approach, but let me give you a personal account, because it doesn’t stop fascinating me even after 17 years of my association with it. Before AKRSP, the Imamat Institutions working in this area were voluntary Boards, delivering basic and useful services. In creating AKRSP, His Highness foresaw a paradigm shift. The traditional systems which created and managed public goods were in decline, the government systems were distant and inadequate, and the isolation of the area was coming to an end with the construction of the KKH. His Highness combined a number of innovations in the newly created AKRSP. First, it was meant to be a professional set up, led by world class experts as management and Board of Directors selected on merit; second, it was registered under the Companies Act, not under the Social Welfare Law, which was a common practice at that time for AK institutions. An amazing decision and one that provided room for innovation and ensured highest management and governance standards. Fourth, it was meant to be an inclusive organization working with all the communities in the Northern Areas and Chitral. Fifth, His Highness gave AKRSP a very specific and clear mandate: a) double the per capita income, b) develop a replicable model and, c) create sustainable local institutional mechanisms.
His Highness then gave the first General Manager of AKRSP full authority, flexible and generous resources, including a helicopter, and the assurance of his long-term support.
A must-read on rural uplift
By Dr Pervez Tahir
Tuesday, 11 Aug, 2009 | 08:54 AM PST |
Only the govt has the resources to reduce poverty. But it does not know how. — File Photo by AFP Media Gallery
Is poverty a mere ratio to base poverty reduction strategy papers on to solicit foreign assistance or the never-ending experience of millions losing hope? Day in and day out, the large majority of the poor start their journey to non-fulfilment in rural areas.
In terms of public spending, the neglect of agriculture is now being addressed to some extent. Agriculture, however, is only a part of rural development. Recent pronouncements that higher agricultural prices are transferring billions to rural areas echo the trickle-down make-believe of the Musharraf-Aziz period.
In this environment, the publication by Oxford University Press of Shoaib Sultan Khan’s book The Aga Khan Rural Support Programme: A Journey through Grassroots Development is most timely. It is a fascinating story of how, with a little bit of social and technical guidance, the poor in the poorest regions can organise themselves to discover their own potential to reduce poverty in a sustainable and self-reliant manner.
Anyone who visited the programme area of the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) at the start of the 1980s and followed it up later will have seen a difference. Some amazing statistics are available now. Real income per capita in the programme area more than doubled between 1991 and 2001. From one-third of the real per capita income of Pakistan in 1991, the programme area had pushed ahead to 58 per cent. Hence Shoaib Sultan Khan’s claim that he has actually witnessed the reduction of poverty.
The book outlines a government career imbued with a spirit of public service, learning at the feet of the great Akhtar Hameed Khan, and the experiences of the Daudzai project in the NWFP (created in the image of Comilla Pilot Project in what is now Bangladesh), the Mahaweli Ganga Project in Sri Lanka and the South Asia Poverty Alleviation Programme in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
But the real story for us is the success of AKRSP and its replication in the form of the National Rural Support Programme and its counterparts in the provinces. All told, some 5000 community organisations — the backbone of the rural support programmes — have been formed and nurtured across the country to demonstrate that development of the people, by the people and for the people is a realisable dream.
But it is only a demonstration. It needs scaling-up of a huge magnitude to cover a rural population of 105 million. A network of support organisations working outside the government will never have the resources to carry out the huge undertaking. Nor is it its mandate. Only the government has the resources to reduce poverty. But it does not know how. Working in the government for long time has given Shoaib Sultan Khan this important insight. As a district officer, he made honest attempts to implement the programme blueprints handed down from the top. However, districts, even tehsils, turned out to be too big to serve rural communities in any meaningful way.
The shift of emphasis to the thana to create a centre (markaz) of coordinated services under the Integrated Rural Development Programme in the 1970s was meant to establish a viable unit of development administration. Daudzai, a supply-driven departmental model, piloted this approach. It ‘withered away’ when Shoaib Sultan Khan had to leave government service ‘for doing the right things’.
While extending the departmental outreach was important, a key lesson of Daudzai was that development could not be ‘administered’ to people. The communities had to get involved, participate and own. Supply did not create its own demand because a blueprint assumes, wrongly, that it knows what the needs of the people are. The people may be illiterate, but their knowledge of the grass roots and local realities is superior to those who make the blueprints.
It was at the AKRSP that the demand side came into full play through community participation. Communities would indicate their priorities through a process of dialogue, catalysed by the programme. They were also responsible for implementing and maintaining the projects reflecting their own priorities. Technical and financial support was provided by the programme.
Working in the government had brought home to Shoaib Sultan Khan the inadequacies of departments to reach the desired locations. Working with the communities led to the strong conclusion that eliminating mass poverty was beyond the resources of the non-governmental sector, no matter how unshakeable the commitment and how sincere the effort.
While AKRSP more than achieved its objective of doubling the real per capita income in the programme area, there was also the realisation that its replication in the length and breadth of Pakistan would require working with the government.
Working with the government to work with the communities has defined Shoaib Sultan Khan’s struggle to reduce poverty since he left AKRSP. This is what distinguishes the rural-support-programme movement from the NGO sector. It does however own and implement in its work the ideals that the NGOs agitate for. Gender, equity and economic justice are among its fundamental objectives. The approach, however, is cooperative rather than antagonistic.
Khan talks about the successes, frustrations and unjustified allegations during this long journey through grassroots development. Successes have not made him complacent, frustrations have not weakened the resolve and the allegations have failed to demoralise.
As the book is a fine blend of Shoaib Sultan Khan the person and Shoaib Sultan Khan the development guru — in the form of diaries, notes for records, travelogues and analytical perspectives — the reader gets a refreshing insight into the critical problems facing the rural economy. It is a must-read for those interested in the history, theory and practice of rural development from a grassroots perspective.
A new book about the Aga Khan rural support program
Shoaib Sultan Khan is the chairman of the Aga Khan Rural Support Program and has been working towards the uplift of the Northern Areas of Pakistan for over 20 years. His inspirational statement “Eradicating Poverty through enterprise” (pdf) is a must-read:
The Aga Khan Rural Support Programme A Journey Through Grassroots Development
Shoaib Sultan Khan
Readership / Level
The book will be of interest to development professionals, practitioners and students; scholars of rural and community development and sociologists; public administrators, local government officials and elected representatives; public opinion makers and policy makers.
The book gives an account of participatory strategies for rural development in the South Asian context in a non-esoteric manner. Basic principles of participatory development are narrated by the author through story-telling making the text interesting and at the same
time providing rich insights into the process of engaging people in changing their own lives.
About the Author / Editor
Shoaib Sultan Khan studied literature, law and Public Administration at the Universities of Lucknow and Cambridge. He served for 25 years as a CSP Officer in the Government of Pakistan, 12 years with the Geneva-based Aga Khan Foundation and 14 years with UNICEF and UNDP. Since 2005 he is involved with the Rural Support Programmes of Pakistan on a voluntary basis as honorary Chairman of Rural Support Programmes Network (RSPN), National Rural Support Programme (NRSP), Sindh Rural Support Organization (SRSO), Ghazi Brotha Taraqiati Idara (GBTI) and as honorary Director of the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP), Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP), Punjab Rural Support Programme (PRSP) and Baluchistan Rural Support Programme (BRSP).
He is a recipient of the Magsaysay Award from the President of Philippines; World Conservation Medal from WWF International - President, HRH Duke of Edinburgh and Hilal-e-Imtiaz from the President of Pakistan.
Child and mother health care project launched
by G. H. Farooqui December 05, 2009
“Orientation Meeting with LSOs representatives on Community Based Saving Groups (CBSGs) in the Chitral Child Survival Programme (CCSP)”.
A joint initiative of AKHSP Chitral and AKRSP Chitral.
CHITRAL: A one orientation workshop on Community Based Saving Groups (CBSGs) organized by Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP) Chitral was held in a local Hotel for Local Support Organizations (LSOs) representatives.
The main objective of the workshop was to take on board the LSOs on the implementation plan of CBSGs.
Chitral District of North West Frontier Province (NWFP) has some of the highest maternal and infant mortality and morbidity ratios and rates in Pakistan; these result from high levels of poverty, low female literacy, cultural practices favouring childbirth at home, women’s limited mobility outside of the home, and the difficulty of accessing health facilities, often located in remote and isolated valleys and operating in harsh and inhospitable climates.
In Chitral, like many other rural districts of Pakistan, these issues are interlinked and must be addressed through a holistic approach. Therefore the AKHSP, Chitral and AKRSP Chitral entered into a partnership in the Programme by the name of Chitral Child Survival programme (CCSP) the first of its kind to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity in Chitral district. For that purpose communities needed to be organized, sensitised and supported to address the constraints through context-specific arrangements that lead to ensuring a safe delivery. AKRSP Chitral in this partnership through its social mobilisation expertise would try to address the factors, that constrain access by pregnant women and their newborns to health care and that being low community awareness, traditional cultural practices, the limited paying capacity of the family and delayed decision-making and Aga Khan Helath Service for Pakistan (AKHSP) Chitral would put in place a package of interventions that overcome the constraints to accessing skilled care during pregnancy, assisted deliveries, pre and postnatal care and services to the newborn. As currently 30 community mid wives (CMWS) are going through a rigorous training process, selected by AKHSP Chitral from those areas where no government or AKHPs services health services or facilities are available.
These CBSGs have to be in place before the trained Community mid wives (CMWs) are trained and deployed in their respective villages.
In the workshop RPM AKRSP Chitral Sardar Ayub gave an overview of the CCSP in detail and also explained the role of AKRSP in the social mobilization component of the CCSP with the formation of the CBSGs, then a detailed presentation was given on CCSP from the AKHSP, Chitral by Miraj Manager MER AKHSP Chitral accompanied by Ms. Aisah Maab Program Coordinator CCSP. Their presentation was then followed towards the conclusion of the orientation meeting with LSOs by Farid Ahmad Project Manager CBSG who explained CBSGs as being Community Based Savings Group (CBSG) group of 15 – 25 women who save together and takes small loans from those savings with the establishment of special social fund for emergency purposes and also explained the role of LSOs in ensuring efficient and effective implementation of the CBSG project and CCSP program in general.
The roles are as under which the LSOs had to take responsibility for the effective implementation of the project and program in general. To Facilitate AKRSP in identification/recruitment of field officers, to Facilitate AKRSP/AKHSP in the formation of health houses, to Facilitate in developing fee structure and payment of mid wives services. As well as to Encourage and Facilitate in developing transport mechanism for the referral cases, Monitoring of progress and performance of filed officers and CBSGs, Inclusion of poor and female of reproductive age in CBSGs.
At the end of the orientation meeting the LSOs representatives assured both AKRSP Chitral and AKHSP Chitral of their full support and cooperation to make the CCSP a success.
3 days Change Management Workshop for LSO leadership concluded.
CHITRAL: A three days long Change Management Workshop for Local Support Organizations (LSO) leadership concluded here in local hotel. Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP) Chitral organized the workshop. District Nazim Chitral Haji Maghfirat Shah was chief guest on the occasion while Muhammad Karam, Miraj Khan were facilitators of the workshop. Addressing on the occasion district Nazim said that we always support and welcome any non-governmental organization who working for benefit of local community of Chitral. He said Chitral is a vast and wide area and it is not possible to provide relief to each citizen by government agencies. He said that LSO face different challenges by different segment of the society but you should to tolerate and continue your work. He said we acknowledging importance and need of LSO for uplifting of different backwards areas of Chitral. He stressed upon the stakeholders to must involve local community for ownership of your projects and sustainability. Engineer Sardar Ayub Regional Program Manager of AKRSP while talking on the occasion emphasized on stakeholders to come forward and play vital role in development of the area. He said that LSO have great responsibilities and people are looking forward with hopeful eyes towards LSO for brining positive changes. Miraj Khan of AKDN briefed the stakeholders on development and governance. He said that only way of development that we should to bring positive changes in our attitude. He said that development bring by integrity, responsibility, respect to the Laws and Rules, respect to rights of other citizens, work loving, strive for saving and investment, will of super action and punctuality are ethics of development and we never stand in the line of developed nations until we follow these principles. At last RPM Sardar Ayub distributed certificates among the participants of 3 days workshop.
Capacity development of GBLA members vital for regional political empowerment, speakers
December 18, 2009
A participant getting certificate.
by Zulfiqar Ali Khan
GILGIT, December 16: Globalisation is impacting the lives of the mountain communities living in Gilgit-Baltistan which needs concrete responses. This was said by speakers during a seminar on organisational change management in Gilgit. The seminar was organised by Aga Khan Rural Support Programme with the collaboration of InWEnt-Capacity Building International, Germany. The main objective of the event was to orientate young officers from government and civil society organisations in order to act as a change agent in their organisation for impact, efficiency and effectiveness.
The speakers stressed the need to develop the capacities of the newly formed Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly and other departments in order to materialise the Gilgit-Baltistan Self Governance and Empowerment package 2009. They said joint efforts are needed from the civil society and government departments in order to facilitate the change process occurring after the announcement of the package.
Addressing the gathering, Mutahir Shah; Finance Secretary Gilgit-Baltistan said that Rs 365 million has been allocated for the capacity building of the agencies and stakeholders involved in the implementation of the new package. He said the people of Gilgit-Baltistan need to successfully implement the package in order to pave ways for further steps from the federal government. The people of GB have higher level of awareness and capacities in order to drive their own development. He also assured to organise change management seminars in order to involve the local stakeholders in developing mechanisms for tax collection and contracting system.
Izhar Ali Hunzai, General Manager of AKRSP highlighted the need of changing the public contracting system in GB and introduce broadband internet system in order to reap the fruits of modern development.
Ghulam Amin Baig, Programme Manager AKRSP said that systems-oriented methodologies are required for the sustainable development. He said the InWEnt international leadership training programmes is providing executives from the Himalayas, Hindu Kusch and Pamir mountain regions with professional training aimed at encouraging processes of political reform.
Solar system best to overcome energy crises
Pakistan Times NWFP Bureau
CHITRAL: Introducing solar system is the best solution to over come energy crises in mountainous Chitral were the views of the experts during a day long workshop on sustainable energy solutions.
The workshop was jointly organized by Agha Khan Rural Support Program and International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development here at local hotel.
There were 30 representatives from relevant government, NGOs, private sectors and local communities to discuss ways and means for a smooth sailing of the project.
General Manager AKRSP Izhar Ali Hunzai, ICIMOD’s Country representative Dr. Inayatullah, Rana, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment were also attended the workshop.
Energy advisor Prof Dr. Jangna Nath Shrestha of CIMOD stressed upon adopting of solar (alternate) energy to overcome on energy crises in the district. He disclosed that in way back 2007, CIMOD) embarked on a pilot project to find sensible solutions to the energy crisis to make ensure alternative energy to the people.
The piloted technologies mainly metallic stove, solar cookers and solar lamps were locally available that could save fuel, reducing indoor air pollution and green house gas emission reducing drudgery and freeing up the excessive time of herders especially women for productive activities.
The Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) has installed over 180 micro-hydro power units in Chitral District, North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan. These supply electricity to about 175,000 people. The main use is for better quality lighting, but the ability to use radio, television and appliances like electric butter churners is also greatly valued.
Electric lighting has replaced expensive and polluting kerosene lamps and dirty pine resin torches. It gives children the invaluable chance to study during the evenings, while their parents can generate much-needed income by making clothes and handicrafts. But there are health and safely benefits too, like being able to avoid deadly scorpion stings at night.
AKRSP is looking to introduce larger micro-hydro plants with enough power for cooking and heating – easing the chronic firewood shortage threatening Chitral’s mountain communities.
Kalash people discover new ways to generate income
By Our Correspondent
Sunday, 16 May, 2010
CHITRAL, May 15: Kalash people had discovered new avenues to augment their income by introducing guest house system in their homes for the tourists, a Japanese couple, visiting the valleys, told Dawn.
The couple said that they had faced accommodation problem when they visited Kalash valleys in 1980s but this time around they found a network of small guest houses offering a decent place to live where they felt at comfort and really enjoyed the visit.
“It provided us with an opportunity to peer into the unique lifestyle of the primitive people”, the couple said.
Regarding the new idea of guest houses, the Kalash people said that it was basically a part of Regional Women Empowerment Project (RWEP) of Economic Empowe-rment of Women Project of Aga Khan Rural Support Programme. Looking for different means of livelihood for the womenfolk in the valleys, it discovered the idea of introducing small guest houses to generate additional income, they said.
RWEP provided training to the women on how to use their additional rooms as guest houses for the tourists and manage it, they said and added that the idea worked well and the people renovated a room or two for the guests with basic necessities. Mostly couples and families opt for such types of accommodation in the valleys where they cook food for themselves and enjoy an environment which the hotels cannot offer, they maintain.
Akbari Khan Kalash of Rumbur valley said that his life standard had improved due to the additional income accrued from the one-room guest house attached to his home. He said previously he had no source of income other than subsistence farming.
The Kalash people said that they felt pleased to host the touring couples and families as paying guests. Regarding the rates, they said that there was no rate fixed but it was placed at the wish of the guest.
The Kalash people demanded that credit must be made available to those who did not afford to raise additional rooms and make necessary settings for guest house as some of them were mired in abject poverty.
AKRSP participates at Global Carbon Market Fair & Conference
Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP)
Least developed countries & community access to CDM/climate finance/adaptation funds:
Pakistan case study
This side event session is co-sponsored by the Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP) & World Bank
This session will highlight the community engagement aspect in climate finance and CDM. Not only will it highlight the potential of community contribution/benefits to climate change efforts by projects like
the AKRSP community micro-hydroelectric project, but it will also detail actual issues encountered. Issues and hurdles that communities and LDCs have run into in accessing the CDM as a result of UNFCCC rules and procedures will be discussed. Pakistan will be used as a case study of typical LDC and community access issues. As one of the hardest hit countries by climate change that is home to the Himalayan glaciers that are melting, its situation is an important one to consider.
Contact: Saima Qadir, firstname.lastname@example.org
AKRSP participates in the student placement programme
"The prominent NGOs that participated in the campus placement include Agha Khan Rural Support Programme, BISWA, Development Alternatives, National Livelihood Resource Institute, Child Fund India. The corporate sector was represented by Ruchi Soya, Reliance, Monsanto, Technoserve and Serecon Pvt. Ltd. Microfinance institutions like Spandana, MIMO, BASIX and IFMR also recruited the students."
GILGIT: The Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) has started its survey for the Benazir Income Support Program in parts of Gilgit, sources said on Tuesday.
They said that Nadar-1 is the first place where survey teams have started collecting data as per the requirements of the data forms.
“The survey will be launched in the rest of Gilgit-Balitistan (G-B) shortly,” an official of the foundation added.
Earlier this month the government had sublet the task of conducting the survey in G-B to AKRSP because of its credibility in the field of community development and their role in poverty reduction.
The other reason for assigning the task to AKRSP, a government official said, was because of the organisation’s reach in the area. The organisation had been working in this part of the world since the early 80s.
“Even though this is a huge task, we will complete it within two months,” an official of the AKRSP said.
“We have prepared teams to do the task accurately and within the stipulated time,” he added.
AKRSP distributed Agricultural Units among Flood Affected
by G. H. Farooqui November 13, 2010
Agriculture inputs distributed under Emergency Assistance to support Flood Affected Vulnerable Farmers of Chitral.
CHITRAL: Agriculture inputs were distributed free of cost among the flood affected farmers of the entire district. These items containing on DAP, Urea (fertilization), certified seed of Wheat and vegetable seed were provided free of cost to flood affected farmers by Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP) supported by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) UN. Some 3161 items in 2841 bags were distributed among the flood affected people at Chitral, Ayun, Karimabad and Mulkoh (upper Chitral). A simple but prompt function was held at the office of Local Support Organization of Mulkho area where Chairman of Mulkoh LSO Qadir Shah along with AKRP staff distributed these items among the flood affected farmers. Talking to this scribe former UC Nazim and Chairman of LSO Maulana Qadir Shah said that the area were badly affected by recent flood as a result standing crops of the people as well as seed were also totally damaged and the people of the area were plunged in a very tough time and were facing numerous problems. But we thankful to AKRSP who distributed these agriculture inputs consisting on fertile and certified seed of wheat and these people would be able to stand on their own feet after sowing these wheat and vegetable seed. He thanked high ups of AKRSP as well as USAID for supporting these vulnerable people who have nothing to earn livelihood except of farming and their cultivable land as well as standing crops were totally ruined by recent devastated flood.
A flood affected farmer Haji Zardana Khan of the area said that we have lost our land and crops and having nothing for sowing in our land but now we thankful to AKRSP for providing us these items free of cost and will definitely bring positive changes in our lives. A spokesman of AKRSP Muhammad Younus said that we providing these items to flood affected farmers with the support of USAID. He said that AKRSP distributing these items very transparently among the affected people and try of its best to support these people for earning their livelihood with a honor way. A large number of people were present on th occasion they were providing these items with the help of LSO volunteers group who provide these things according to the prevailing criteria. Besides it AKRSP also rendering meritorious service for uplifting life of common people at the area.
2 Micro Hydro Power houses completed by AKRSP
by G. H. Farooqui December 04, 2010
2 Micro hydro power stations completed by AKRSP inaugurated at Garamchishma.
CHITRAL: Poverty can only be eradicated by continue struggle, commitment with your jobs, participating in volunteer activities and rendering free services to the community. As well as we can success in poverty alleviation only by adopting positive steps and combined struggle for uplifting. These views were expressed by Kamal Hayat Chief Executive/Managing Director of Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) on the occasion of inauguration ceremony of two micro hydro power houses of 100 KV each at Garamchishma completed by Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP) with financial support of PPAF in collaboration with local community. Kamal Hayat was chief guest on the occasion. He said that people of Chitral are so committed and having rich spirit of volunteerism that we wan to kick more and more developmental schemes in the area. He stressed upon that local community to participate in developmental schemes overwhelmingly and to play positive role in development of the country and uplifting of your locality. He said that PPAF will always support local community through civil society’s organization to uplift life standard of these people and to bring positive changes in the area. He was addressing to a crowed gathering of men and women folk on the occasion of inauguration ceremony of two hydro power stations at Garamchishma where there was no electricity by government as well as private sector.
The first micro hydro power house of 100 KV capacity of Jother was completed with a cost of 4.329 million by AKRSP where 20% share was put by the local community. It will benefit some 280 house holds in the area that were totally deprived from electricity supply while the second power house also existing of 100 KV power generating of Waht Power house which was completed with a cost of 5.6 million and total beneficiaries of the power house are 130 house holds. Some 1.2 million was extra spent by local community for Jothar power house from their maintenance fund. Elites of the area presented traditional gifts to distinguished guests on their arrival as well as they also presented traditional music and folk dance in their honor. General Manger of AKRSP Izhar Ali Hunzai, Chief Technical Officer of PPAF Zafar Sabri, Regional Program Manger of AKRSP Engineer Sardar Ayub, Munazir Elahi General Manager of media & Communication of PPAF and other were present on the occasion. Bahawuddin, Muhammad Wali and other spoke on the occasion they thanked to high ups of PPAF and AKRSP for their financial support for these two projects and optimistically said that they will continue their patronizing and support in development of this backward and remote area. Mr. Kamal Hayat Chief Executive of PPAF in an exclusive interview with this scribe disclosed that we supporting some 50 projects in this region and also planning for launching of mega projects to utilize plentiful resources of water for improving of hydro power generating and to eradicate poverty by this ways from the area. A large number of women and men participated in the inauguration ceremony of these two hydro power houses.
ROAD REPAIRED: A 15-kilometer-long road leading to the isolated valley of Golen near Chitral city has been repaired and opened to traffic after it was damaged by floods in July. Dawn
The villagers told on Monday it was not the government but the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP), which rehabilitated the damaged infrastructure in the area.
The chairman of Koh Integrated Development Programme (KIDP) Abdul Ghaffar said that after being disappointed by the government, the locals approached the AKRSP for the restoration of the flood-hit infrastructure.
ISLAMABAD: The government of Japan has decided to grant financial support of $203,671 (Rs17 million) to the Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan (AKCSP) for two projects in Hunza, Gilgit-Baltistan.
The agreements for the projects were signed on Thursday by Chihiro Atsumi, the Ambassador of Japan to Pakistan, and Akbarali Pesnani, Chairman of the AKCSP, at Atsumi’s residence.
The Environmental Sanitation Project is meant for the improvement of community-based environmental sanitation in Altit, Hunza. Around 237 households (1,820 individuals) including IDPs, who migrated after Attaabad landslide disaster, will benefit from this project.
Local labour will be trained and employed during the execution of the project which will help them to get new jobs in future to support their families.
The Water Supply Project is aimed at the improvement of water supply scheme in Karimabad, Hunza. The grant will be utilised for the repair of pipelines and water tanks, which were previously funded by Japan in 2004 and were damaged due to landslides in the following years.
ISLAMABAD: The Japanese government has pledged $203,671 (approx. Rs17 million) grant for the environmental sanitation and water supply projects in Hunza-Nagar District of Gilgit-Baltistan.
Agreements for the two projects were signed by Japanese Ambassador Chihiro Atsumi and Chairperson of the Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan Akbarali Pesnani at the envoy’s residence in Islamabad on Thursday, said a press release issued by the Japanese embassy.
Under the environmental sanitation project, the community-based environmental sanitation system will be improved in Altit, Hunza.
Around 237 households (1,820 individuals) including displaced persons affected by Attabad landslide last year, will benefit from the project.
Local labour will be trained and employed during the execution of the project which, helping them get new jobs and support their families.
Under the water supply project, water supply scheme will be repaired in Karimabad. The grant will be used for the renovation of pipelines and water tanks, which were previously funded by Japan in 2004 and damaged due to landslides.
It would help preserve the existing facility and benefit 450 households (around 3,600 individuals) in the area.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 18th, 2011.
Feb 18, 2011 - 12:38PM
We the Huzokutz (Inhabitants of Hunza) acknowledge and are really grateful to the Japan Government for always support to uplift the life standard of Huzokutz.
In past Japan Movement’s has funded several projects in Hunza; like Karimabad Sanitation System, Hasegawa Memorial Public School etc.
CHITRAL: To overcome energy crises at Chitral and to save forest from mercilessly (ruthless) cutting solar water heaters(SWH) were introduced first time in Chitral. German Technical Cooperation (GIZ) in collaboration with Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP) started dissemination of solar water heating systems in Chitral Region. Firstly entrepreneurs were developed and then they have been given on job installation trainings of the systems. To attract the locals, GIZ provided the 30% subsidy on the SWHs cost for the first five solar water heater pilot projects. Solar water heating systems were installed for the domestic use as well as commercial installations were also the part of dissemination of the SWHs in different hotels of Chitral. The dissemination events been conducted at the local hotels where people from every walk of life were present. Technical personal Muhammad Saeed of GIZ briefed the people about the technology and solar water heater users shared their experience with the audience. Secondly an event for the hotel industry conducted where the consultant responded different questions of participants. Shahzada Mudasirul Mulk chief executive of Creative Approaches for Development (CAD) also highlighted benefits of solar energy system in Chitral. He said that by adopting solar appliances our forest can be saved from ruthless cutting. Responding to a question he said that during winter season when snowfall cover the area this solar water heater will provide hot water through electric backup. He said that this device is very cheap and by adopting of equipments running by solar energy we can overcome on energy crises in the country. He said that we are also introducing alternate energy equipments like bio briquette moulds and bio briquette machines for briquette manufacturing which will be alternate of fuel wood as well as CAD will introduce bio gas plants for local gas production for household
Warm blessings for Chitralis
By Shahbaz Rana
Published: April 21, 2011
Drudgery to make both ends meet reduced one chilly morning for Khanza Begum, 31, mother of four, as she found hot water to wash clothes at zero degrees centigrade and electricity in the evening for knitting and sewing.
The hardships of villagers in Wahat, District Chitral, started lessening when a micro hydel generation plant became operational in December last year. It generates cheap electricity besides providing hot water.
When the demand for energy drops, water is shifted to a large barrel through an electronic load-control device. “Before December 2010, I used to collect wood from the jungle, make a fire and boil water to wash clothes,” said Khanza Begum.
The clean energy generation is also earning dollars for the area, as against each unit produced, the project wins $1.3 dollar under the Clean Development Mechanism initiative to reduce carbon omissions.
The villagers are planning to convert the washing barrel into a Small and Medium Enterprise aimed at sustaining progress that has made life easier for poor women.
“The time saved from collecting wood is now being used for other productive activities like knitting and sewing, which has improved our lifestyle”, said Bibi Zar.
The project is funded by the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, but is being maintained by the villagers. The Wahat micro power plant is one of 63 micro hydel projects that have been installed on the banks of the Chitral River, enabling at least 24,000 households in the district to have access to electricity, said Fazl-e-Rabi, Manager Renewable Energy of the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme – the organisation executing the project. This figure is double the number of households linked with the national grid. The hydel electricity costs Rs2 per unit to domestic consumers against the Water and Power Development Authority’s Rs8 per unit.
These small achievements may make the communities proud, but a lot more needs to be done. The area is gifted with hot springs. An official from the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme said a local prince, who owns the mountain from where the water flows, does not let water be used for commercial purposes. He said the prince has rejected a proposal to use the water for a central heating system that will promote tourism in the area.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2011.
LSO is an alliance or federation of village and women organizations (V/WOs) and other civil society organizations at valley or union council level, formed by dedicated volunteers, both men and women and run by a slim professional management. Fostered by the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP), the LSOs are non-profit organizations registered under the companies Ordinance 1984 in Pakistan, limited by guarantee and not having a share capital.
Forgotten heroes of Pakistan
by Siddique Humayun on November 28th, 2011 | Comments (9)
Forgotten heroes of Pakistan
The power of community participation in development was highlighted by Akhtar Hameed Khan through his famous Orangi Pilot Project in Karachi in the 1980s. Due to the fact that Orangi was a squatter settlement, it did not qualify for government aid. As a result, Dr. Akhtar Hameed Khan organised and mobilised the local squatter community to identify their need, collect funds and through the technical expertise of Dr. Khan and his team, solve their own sanitation problems. Similarly, in the same period another social development project was being initiated on the lines of community participation in what is now Gilgit-Baltistan.
The Aga Khan Rural Support Programme was started by Shoaib Sultan Khan in the early 1980s and instead of making the choices for the villagers of these remote and harsh terrains, the programme focused on a “partnership with communities” and learning-by-doing. It was the villagers who were to decide what they need, how they will go about it, and how will they manage and utilise the funding provided by the Aga Khan Foundation. This participatory approach to development has since then led to countless achievements in Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan.
From the construction of countless bridges to significant increases in the income of the residents, the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme spearheaded development in these remote regions of Pakistan. Over 90,000 hectares of land was reclaimed while more than 30 million trees have been planted. Irrigation channels have been made the programme has mobilised over 4000 community organisations on a small to medium scale, along with groups that manage over 8 million US dollars of savings.
While these are the tangible achievements of this initiative, the intangible change in lives and attitude that the people of these remote areas have gone through is perhaps worth much more. Micro projects of hydro-electricity now supply electricity to over 50 per cent of Chitral, and what makes these projects successful is that all are thought out, implemented, managed and maintained by the communities that benefit from them.
Aga Khan Rural Support Programme changed the lives of over 1.3 million villagers in the northern parts of Pakistan and it did not end there. The network spread its wings to villages all over the country; Shoaib Sultan Khan’s pioneering model was replicated in at least 11 countries and has over the course of time, changed the lives of millions of poor for the better. Although such heroes are content with just that single smile of a hardworking villager in the face of poverty, we must honour them.
There are countless such men in this country that are giving of themselves towards the betterment of the lives of people they do not know and perhaps will never see again. These are the real heroes of Pakistan, and if we must erect monuments of public figures, it should be of such stars of our country rather politicians buried in corruption.
It is said, and I quote “the true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit”. There may be very few men and women who come to the spotlight such as Akhtar Hameed Khan and Shoaib Sultan Khan, but we must not forget them, for they not only serve Pakistan, but also humanity. It is people like them that prove Pakistan has hope and that it takes courage to change lives. Not everything that happens in this country is wrong, even though it is difficult to sometimes acknowledge that glimmer of hope shining through all the chaos that surrounds us, but there has always been and there will always be… hope.
Dushkal Ne Pele Paar Dushkal Ne Pele Paar is a documentary on how a few villages in Kutch have made collective effort to establish fodder banks and rainwater harvesting system in their villages to address the issue of food and water scarcity during a drought. This has reduced their vulnerability during natural disasters. The film, made with support of Aga Khan Rural Support Programme, Bhuj, was used to take the message from these villages to different corners of the district. The trilingual film made in Kutchi, Gujarati and Hindi was funded by the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund. The Aga Khan Rural Support Programme used this film to motivate the youth in villages to form a mandala (group) to keep an eye on the expenses being made on the social occasions. All the section of people joined this movement to stop unnecessary expenses.
An authoritative report, prepared by the Coastal Salinity Prevention Cell, a joint initiative of the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme, Ambuja Cement Foundation, Sir Ratan Tata Trust and the Gujarat government, has estimated that Gujarat accounts for 1.2 million hectares (ha) of saline soil, which is about 15 per cent of the country as a whole. Pointing out that the “soil salinity and sodicity is an important factor affecting the soil health and crop productivity”, the report says, “The total salt affected soils in India is approximately 8.1 million ha out of which 3.2 m ha is coastal saline soil and 2.8 m ha is sodic soil, and the rest 2.2 m ha is inland saline soil.
AKRSP conducts a study on the trafficking of poor Chitrali girls
Study reveals trafficking of poor Chitrali girlsZahiruddin | Peshawar | From the Newspaper
24th March, 2012 CHITRAL: Trafficking of Chitrali girls in the garb of marriage goes on unchecked for last many years by professional human traffickers who take advantage of the poverty, ignorance and weaker social fabric of the area.
A study recently conducted by Regional Women Empowerment Project of Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) reveals that 74 per cent of marriages of Chitrali girls with people from other districts, specially in Punjab, turn out to be fake.
It says that the trafficking of girls is done for exploitative domestic servitude, while there has been ample evidence of using such girls in the abhorrent prostitution trade. The study reveals the regrettable fact that if a woman becomes victim of trafficking, she compromises with the situation due to the fact that her family would not accept her back due to the stigma.
About grooms from other districts, it says that majority of them are above age 50 and already married, and introduce themselves as high government officers or land and business owners.
Unveiling the trafficking mechanism, the study puts the local ‘middlemen’ in centre of the dirty business, who introduce the groom to the girl’s family and provide accommodation and transportation to him till the marriage is solemnised. The middlemen mostly target the households with poor financial condition and lure the parents by presenting a bright future for their daughters.
“The poor victims have no exposure and hold a wrong perception that all the people in central districts of the country are affluent and noble,” the study goes and adds that these gullible people have no source of information to verify the claims of the prospective grooms.
About payment made to the parents or guardians, the report says that it ranges from Rs50,000 to Rs500,000 depending on the age and complexion of a girl, but over 50 per cent of the amount goes to the middleman.
About the factors responsible for unchecked women trafficking, the field study pointed out poverty, attraction of city life, negative customs and traditions, and lack of verification mechanism of the grooms and legal framework etc.
According to the study, the unfortunate victims are rejected both by their own families and the society in case of divorce, making them more vulnerable to the abuse on their return to native areas.
The study suggests that a proper mechanism should urgently be devised to check the information claimed by the prospective grooms and in case of any fraud they should be duly punished along with the middlemen, which is essential to saving future of Chitrali women.
Economic empowerment of womenfolk must be ensured by the government and non-government agencies so that they could not be a burden on others and contribute to the prosperity of their families, recommends the study.
AKRSP activities cited as an example of an effective US aid channel
So while USAID is very good at quickly mobilizing assistance to disaster-afflicted communities, it carries a lot of political baggage -- so much so in places like Pakistan that the U.S might be better off in the long run by downsizing USAID's direct activities there and working through alternative programs.
One good model might be the Rural Support Programmes Network. A sprawling collection of local NGOs, the RSPN was founded by the Agha Khan Network in 1982, and has since become its own, separate program. While the stats about its reach are impressive -- reaching millions of the poorest homes across a vast swath of Pakistan -- what's especially fascinating about RSPN are its methods.
On February 28, Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC) welcomed Apoorva Oza, CEO of the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) in India. In this exclusive interview marking World Water Day on March 22, Mr. Oza shared AKRSP’s approach to water sustainability in India.
The following interview has been edited and condensed.
Q: What is the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme?
Apoorva Oza: The Aga Khan Rural Support Programme in India is a non-denominational, non-governmental organization which was established in the year 1984. It works in the area of rural development, partnering with rural communities to improve the quality of their lives.
Q: March 22nd is the UN’s World Water Day and the theme this year is “water and food security”. How do water scarcity issues affect India?
AO: India houses a substantial part of the world’s poor population and therefore food insecurity is a major issue. There are many millions of children who do not get enough to eat on a daily basis. AKRSP works in many regions which have water scarcity. In these regions, because there is water scarcity there is not enough irrigation. Because of lack of irrigation, food production is much less, and because of lack of food production people end up eating less because farmers usually depend on food they grow for their consumption.
Q: How is AKRSP addressing water issues in India?
AO: AKRSP believes that the core to agricultural development is what we call “irrigation supply.” With climate change you can’t predict how much rainfall is going to come and when it’s going to come. This is affecting agriculture productivity substantially. In different contexts – whether it’s a coastal saline area, or a semi-arid area, or a flood-prone area – these are all areas where the management of the water for irrigation is critical to food productivity. One of the key interventions that AKRSP focuses on is increasing the irrigation options for farmers. AKRSP helps farmers [build] water-harvesting structures, helps them repair existing canal irrigation systems which have become defunct, and helps them recharge groundwater systems.
Q: What is the idea behind measuring “drops per crop”?
AO: To enhance the efficiency of use of water, we promote micro-irrigation devices. These devices are largely drip irrigation systems or sprinkler irrigation systems. We monitor how many drops [of water] are required per crop. If you reduce the “drops per crop” what you do is improve the water productivity of agriculture. There has been a substantial emphasis on land productivity, but the constraining resource is now not only land, the constraining resource is actually water. So you need to start measuring tonnes [of crops produced] per litre of water. By focusing on this we have improved the water productivity of many crops substantially, and that has helped address the food crisis in many of these areas. Once you enhance water productivity, then you help small farmers – who have limited land and limited water – to meet their food demands.
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