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Posted December 1996

Status report on participatory rural development in Pakistan's Punjab:
New directions


(excerpts from mission report prepared by Dixon Nilaweera, FAO consultant, Rome, September 1996)

Background

The Participatory Rural Development Project (PRD) in Pakistan was operationalized by FAO in 1989. The University of Faisalabad (UAF) was chosen as the implementing agency of the PRD project. The PRD Project is similar in design to other FAO People's Participation Programme (PPP) projects in other countries, i.e. the project aims at testing the use of a small, homogeneous self-help group approach to reach small farmers and the rural poor. The PRD self-help groups (membership varies from 5-15 members per group) operate at the sub-village level and each is organized around common income-generating activities the group members identify and they supported by specially-trained Group Promoters who live in the action areas.

Current status of the project

Field visits to all project site were undertaken to assess the strength and weakness of the groups and also to ascertain their sustainability and vibrancy. The methodology used within the time constraint was to participate at the Group Meetings, observe their interactions, study the issues surfaced, attend the meetings of the supporting staff of the line Departments and interact with other agencies. These field observations together with the findings of the Project Impact Assessment Report and Mission Report formed the basis of the recommendations.

Groups

There are 161 groups functioning in the 4 Action Areas (AAs). This is composed of 115 male groups and 46 female groups. The total number of participants are 821 of whom 574 are males and 247 are females.

Conventional types of group formation has ben followed from the inception. Required training has been provided to Group Promoters (GPs) in regard to group formation, group dynamics, leadership, income generation activities etc. The groups do not meet by themselves on a regular basis. They however work as groups on common income generation activities. They invariably meet at the GPs office generally twice a month in order to hand over their savings which is deposited by the GP in the Bank in the Group Savings Book. The Group leader usually accompanies the GP to the Bank to obtain the loan once it is approved.

Although the groups do not discuss wide ranging issues when they meet at the office of the GP, they always discuss issues concerning their Income Generating Activities (IGAs).

In the Gujranwala action area, the groups discussed important aspects such as anti-narcotic drive, health and sanitation and nutrition etc. A special feature observed was that this group had arranged a cricket match to which the GP was invited as the Chief Guest. Early signs of group dynamism, self-reliance and leadership in the village are indeed emerging, though belated. It is a fact that all group activities revolve round only one factor, namely their IGAs.

The group activities have radiated their effect to nearby villages. It was observed that villagers in the vicinity who are non-members occasionally participate at group meetings to learn about the group activities, the IGAs, how to obtain loans from the Bank etc. This is undoubtedly a healthy sign.

Female groups

Women groups are weak both in performance as well as in group activities. This is understandable in the light of socio-cultural traditions of the society which have imposed severe restrictions on women. Of course, their saving and loan repayment habits are very satisfactory. To bring them together even to the GPs office is indeed an arduous task. They perform multifarious tasks and therefore have little time to devote to other activities including group meetings; however, the loan and the IGAs have bound them together. Practically all Lady Group Promoters (LGPs) are of the view that it would be difficult to form more women groups in the Project Area.

Income-generating activities

The most common IGA is livestock development. Cattle fattening, sale of milk, goat raising and sale of paultry meat seem to be the main activities about which there is the skill, tradition and the rural market. The PRD Project has linked the services to the people and rapid improvement to these enterprises are indeed visible. In fact, more and more are inclined to take to these IGAs. Based on the individual skills and the talent, several new IGAs have begun such as electric motor winding, small transformer fabrication, wood sawing etc.

There are new innovative enterprises as well, eg. ladies hairpin manufacture. The pins are of excellent finish and of high workmanship. Women are mostly engaged in poultry production, milk selling, stitching etc. Individual group members apportion the activities among themselves and the profits are equally divided with no questions asked. Group agreement, consensus, mutual trust are clearly visible in Group activities.

Savings and loans

The Consolidated Progress Reports of PRD Project indicate a steady increase of savings and loan repayments. Three out of four Action Areas have all repaid the loans in full and the other 75% of the loan has been repaid. This is remarkable when compared with the experience of rural sector lending and recoveries of the countries in the Region. The savings of the groups are generally not withdrawn and are reflected in their individual Pass Books. These entries are made by the GPs in the individual savings books as the members are illiterate. The groups have faithfully entrusted this task to the GP.

The loans are recommended by the GP and the Mobile Credit Officers (MCOs) of the Agricultural Development Bank of Pakistan (ADBP) after careful scrutiny of the IGAs, loan requirement and the repayment capacity. The GPs and the MCOs carefully monitor the utilization of credit, production and marketing and ensures that the loan is repaid at the correct time. It must be stated that the success of the loan repayment is largely due to the desire of the members not to get indebted to the Bank as well as to the supervisory credit disbursement by the GP/MCOs.

The saving and credit has come to stay in the Project and has paved the way for the Banking Culture to be established in the rural economy where the members are poor, illiterate, devoid of assets as collateral to gain entry to the credit system of the Banks.

Group promoters (GPs)

The GPs are performing remarkably well in the PRD Project. The have had their requisite exposure by way of training in the initial stages. This has been regularly updated by the refresher courses designed to keep them abreast of the latest technical and managerial aspects of the project work.

GPs have undoubtedly been accepted as the "rallying point" and the "nucleus" principally because they live and work in the area full time. The visits of the other Government Officials of the servicing agencies to the villages are few and far between. In the eyes of the group members the significant contribution of the GPs has been making resources available to them and in particular arranging loans from the Bank which they would never have obtained due to lack of security.

Inter-group associations

Inter-group Associations have not yet been formed. The Project has been concentrating mainly on group formation, group dynamics, savings and credit, IGAs etc. One of the principal reasons for the lack of group interaction within groups and within AAs is the distance, difficulties and the cost of transport etc. The groups have not yet grown to the stage of having inter-group associations as practiced in countries where the PPP is at an advanced stage of development. However there is the possibility of group action being institutionalized around common IGAs through Groups Leaders' Forum (GLFs- more later).

Sustainability

In assessing the sustainability of the project one should constantly keep in focus inherent divergencies, fundamental dissimilarities within the Project sites.

The four Action Areas (AA) differ in physical features, agro-ecological conditions, levels of income, proximity to services, difficulties in communication and transport etc. The Chakwal AA represent rainfed Barani lands with a ruggard terrain having less possibilities of the development process reaching the poor. Kushab AA is semi-desert and in the arid zone with less access to resources. Gujranwala AA represent a completely different situation with irrigated paddy stretching into vast areas owned and cultivated by affluent persons. Faisalabad AA is closest to the city capital and has small parcels of land fully irrigated by channel waters. Cropping pattern in this AA is highly intensive cultivation of a range of crops both cereals and vegetables. One feature which runs like a central thread through all AAs is very low levels of poverty, illiteracy and inability to gain access to resources for development.

It is difficult to comprehend as to why these 4 AAs were originally identified. There is no indication as to how these sites were selected, whether by a base line survey or by any other method. Perhaps Agricultural University Faisalabad would have preferred these locations as they represented different agro-climatic regions and production systems which suited their research and training.

In view these varying conditions it would be futile to compare the Action Areas with each other to assess their growth and performance. Furthermore it is indeed meaningless to compare the performance of the PRD project in Pakistan with a similar project in any other country because of these fundamental dissimilarities which are entrenched in the system dictated mostly by the inescapable socio-cultural realities.

The Project Impact Assessment Report, completed in January 1996, has highlighted several achievements of the project, such as savings, loan repayment, acquisition of knowledge, generation of additional income through IGAs, marginal increase of health status of the groups, leadership and self confidence etc.

Indeed, one of the most important achievements of the project has been the creation of a savings/loan and "banking culture" in the project area. Prior to the project there was no custom of group cash savings at banks by the rural poor. This project has opened the doors of the Bank to the poor. All groups now are engaged in IGAs, such as cattle fattening, goat raising, milk selling, poultry production. The creation of income generating activities through the provision of credit has been the most significant contribution. The continuation of these activities uninterruptedly is indeed an illustration of sustainability of group activities.

The IGAs practiced in the project area have generated awareness and have created possibilities of replicating similar activities in the vicinity. This situation could be easily exploited to form more groups around common IGAs so that the entire village could constitute one project village.

Some tend to assess the performance of the project in relation to the number of persons or families benefitted by the project operation during this 6-7 years. This approach, unfortunately, hides the reality. Though technically speaking this project has been in operation since 1989, implementation has occurred in distinctly discernible phases of the project, separated by a period of 24 months. During this hiatus nothing really happened in the field. As a matter of fact, the first phase "died" on February 1992 and it was not "resuscitated"until December 1993. Important landmarks in the project life is given below.

Although there was little project activity during the December 1991-1993 period due to uncertainties in funding, the PRD groups surprisingly survived during this lull period. Due to the intervention of the Project Coordinator, a few small loans were arranged during this period; nevertheless, the groups continued with their savings and IGA activities.

It is only now that the PRD project has passed the 1st milestone in it's march to sustainability. The groups are intact, savings are increasing and loans are being repaid faithfully, assets acquired by utilizing the previous loans are being used as basic stock or raw material for further investment, the IGAs are gathering momentum and expanding both in scope and scale.

The time is opportune to move into the next stage. This stage would be the interaction of Group Leaders, in the form of a Group Leaders Forum (GLF) as explained later in this report. In effect, the GLF would be the forerunner to the Inter-Group Associations. Of course it will take a long time to consolidate the GLFs. However the potential has ben clearly demonstrated in the PRD project.

GP and group member training needs

According to the available records, 3 important Training Workshops have been conducted primarily to the GPs during 1989, 1990 and in 1993. The 1989 Workshop has concentrated on the following aspects: The Workshop in 1990 discussed: The 1993 workshop highlighted the following: The first two workshops were exclusively for GPs, while the last one was designed for the GPs, Group Members and Bank officials, such as Mobile Credit Officers (MCOs). It should be mentioned that the focus of these workshops has been largely on group formation and allied subjects and technical aspects on IGAs.

In order to assess the training needs of both GPs and the Groups, a Training Needs Identification Workshop was conducted from 21 to 24 July 1996. The structure of the Workshop was to develop an interaction between the GPs and the Resource Persons who participated at the previous Workshops in order to ascertain the appropriateness of the earlier training methods and through this process to surface issues which could be an input to the training curriculum.

A Nominal Group Process approach was utilized to elicit the information. The close interaction of the GPs indicated the following as areas on which further training is required:

Having examined the above issues surfaced at the needs assessment exercise, the following areas of training have been identified in consultation with the GPs and the Resource persons. These training needs can be categorized into (i) process oriented training and (ii) technically oriented training

Awareness creation at the village and in the new groups

Since there are often doubts expressed by villagers about the PRD process and the activities contemplated, the correct picture has to be presented to them. For this exercise, the most important resource person is one of the Group Leaders in the project. Arrangements should me made for him to meet the new groups, opinion leaders of the village to explain the background of the project, the process, achievements etc. This interaction should be a one day programme where the group leader will clear any misconception about the Project through experience being placed before the villagers.

Day visits to successful income generation activities

Successful IGAs in the villages should be visited by new groups as well as by existing groups that would like to learn more. This will enable them to actually see the operation of the activity in the field and the role played by the groups, eg. poultry shed construction, goat raising, electric motor winding, small transformer winding etc.

Field visits to GPs and line agency officials including bank officials

PRD Project suffers due to inadequacy of interaction among the line agency officials, Bank Officials etc. This distance should be reduced by practical measures.

Some kind of incentive is desirable to promote interaction among the field officials. It is proposed that field visits outside project area be arranged for all field officers to study similar programmes. It is understood that several NGOs, such as Agha Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP), the National Rural Support Programme (NRSP), Strengthening Participatory Organizations (SPO), are implementing similar projects in Pakistan. Group visits to observe both successful projects as well failure projects will undoubtedly develop a team spirit which would be helpful in securing their joint support for the Project. It is considered worthwhile for the PRD to incur expenditure in this connection.

Workshops for GPs and line agency officials

Formal Workshops should be arranged to provide exposure to the officials on the following: It is realized that similar training has been provided to the GPs; however, this exposure should be made available jointly to all officials, in particular, to the field level Bank officials.

Two resource institutions can be recommended:

Detailed discussions were held by the Consultant and the Project Coordinator with these two agencies to ascertain their capacity and availability. The Division of Education and Extension (DEE) conducts regular courses for students on the same lines. The Rural Home Economics Division which is within the DEE too has developed training methodologies to reach rural poor. The Division is prepared to conduct training at site, if required.

Strengthening Participatory Organizations (SPO), which is funded by CIDA, has a time-bound programme which has to be achieved during the specified period. They are also hamstrung by lack of trainers. However, they do conduct seminars, workshops on these lines particularly to the community based organizations and officials. According to the Regional Director, SPO, they could accommodate our officials in their regular training programmes. However, if special training is contemplated then steps could be taken by them to recruit more staff on contractual basis. It is suggested that both avenues should be explored for the purpose of providing these process oriented training to the GPs and line Departmental Officials. This would be an additional point of interaction for them.

Training in this regard should be both theoretical and practical. Practical aspects should be highlighted as special problems encountered in the field are mostly due to ground realities.

Sandwich technical training courses for GPs on IGAs

As indicated earlier, the IGAs are the principal points of interaction of the groups. Since the GPs are the only officials who are available for assistance in the area they should be regularly provided with technical knowledge on IGAs, in particular Livestock and Paultry production etc, in order to keep them abreast of latest thinking on the subject.

On a regular basis the GPs should be brought to the University for this exposure so that the field problems encountered by them could be discussed widely and solutions found by constant interaction with the resource persons. At these Workshops, gradually more emphasis should be placed on disease control, market potential, analysis of markets and market information gathering, cost reduction methods and creation of group marketing possibilities

Field level interaction with students

Since the PRD project would serve as the Field Laboratory of the Division of Education and Extension for testing theoretical knowledge, enhancing the learning process and curriculum development, it is advantageous that the students interact with groups on common areas of interest. This would provide the feeling of recognition to the groups. Furthermore the sense of deprivation and aloofness of the groups in the society can be dispelled by more interactions of this nature.

Joint training in enterprise development for the group leaders and GPs

Enterprise development appears to be weak in view of the fact that both skills and resources are not available. Initially the exposure should be the possibilities of simple value addition to the farm products on a limited scale which is within the means of the groups. If simple equipments are required for value addition, it would be advisable to supply them from the PRD project funds.

Training for strengthening Group Leaders Forum (GLF)

As stated earlier the proposed Group Leaders Forum should be viewed as a forerunner to the Inter-Group Associations in the future. Proper guidance should be provided to the GPs in the formative period so that the GLF would assert the responsibilities and operate on their own. The GPs should be trained how to guide the groups in: In the GLFs, the GP should play a secondary role and all proceedings should be managed by the senior leader of the Group. GPs should be constantly reminded of this fundamental requirement lest it would be yet another meeting chaired and conducted by the GP. At every meeting, minutes of the previous meeting should be read by a group member. This activity could be entrusted on rotation to others. The training envisaged for the GPs on these lines must be carefully designed and constantly monitored and at the meetings of the GPs chaired by the Project Coordinator a regular item of review should be the GLF, in particular to ascertain the growth, subjects discussed, the reactions etc.

Special training for women groups - an intervention programme as a means to an end

Admittedly there are difficulties in working with women groups for the reasons enumerated earlier; however, these groups should not be left out from the main stream of development.

Perhaps one way of close interaction and working with them would be to develop an intervention programme on "Home Life Improvement" and introduce elementary aspects of house keeping, sanitation, nutrition, home gardening etc. In other words a simple dose of Rural Home Economics should be introduced to them in a language they could comprehend. The University could provide specialized courses on Rural Home Economics and in fact, there is a separate Department providing full-fledged academic training in this field. Fortunately, there is a Lady Group Promotor who is a Graduate in Rural Home Economics. Perusal of the course contents indicates that subjects such as Poultry, Dairy, Goat raising, Health and Sanitation, Food Preservation, Food Processing, Home Gardening etc are being taught.

The Lady Group Promoters should therefore be given more technical orientation in what should be "taken to" the Womens Groups as there is uneven growth of the women groups. As regards the resource persons the Head Of the Home Economics Division could be enlisted on a contractual agreement for about three months to help in the preparation of the curriculum with the qualified Lady Group Promotor who is incidentally her own student. The subjects should be introduced on a phased out basis where what is needed is identified and information dissemination technique to these Women groups clearly mapped out. What is required and what is acceptable to them should be initially selected for "gaining entry". The following training agenda could be suggested:

All Lady Groups Promoters should be the trainers. Therefore they should be provided with simple tools of training. Elementary handouts, pictorial presentations, methods of demonstrations should be made available to the LGPs to facilitate them in providing this training to the Women Groups. It is the view that through these activities it would be possible to bring the Women groups slightly to the forefront and get them more involved in group activities. This should be considered as a means to an end.

PRD Training Unit

If a comprehensive training programmes is to be implemented as envisaged in this report, it would be advisable to establish a small Training Unit in the PRD Project Office. Current training is done on an ad-hoc manner. The GPs and Group members training needs are not identified in a continuing basis. The selection of Resource Persons is also done at a personal level. Moreover an annual training agenda has not been prepared.

This situation can be overcome by establishing a unit with two persons, one male and one female from the GPs to serve in this Unit. Their task would be to concentrate on training of the GPs, Group Leaders, Group Members. The unit should develop training schedules on subjects identified on the basis of needs assessments, create a roster of resource persons and develop material for future training purposes. The W-I-D officer who will be recruited for special assignment to the Project could help this unit in developing curriculum for the Women Groups.

PRD group-based savings/credit operations

There has been no special endeavors to develop individual/group savings as a complementary to saving/credit operation by the Bank. This is naturally understandable as the savings and lending culture was established painstakingly over a long period. Despite the constraints such as cumbersome loan procedures, built - in delays in the Bank, the savings and loan culture has now been stabilized and is sustainable.

Savings and the IGAs of the Groups are expanding and correspondingly the individual and group savings are also increasing. Time is therefore opportune to offer an alternative loan scheme to the group members as "Bridging Finance" for unforseen eventualities. The main features of the scheme are:

Group Savings Fund (GSF)

By resolution, the Groups will decide to withdraw the savings and pool it for the establishment of a new fund, the GSF. This decision will be implemented by the Leaders at the GLF and the Fund will be established in a Bank of their choice. Two members of the GLF and if necessary, the GP as the 3rd signatory will be authorized to do transactions.

Lending criteria

With the assistance of the GP, the Leaders will decide the lending procedure from the GSF. In particular, they will establish procedures in respect of Once the individual member makes a loan application, written or oral, the decision will be taken initially by the group and it will be communicated by the Group Leader at the GLF. Loan will be approve by the GLF if it satisfies the criteria laid down. The amount will then be withdrawn by the authorized persons and it will be handed over personally to the applicant at the GLF.

Repayment

The individual groups should monitor the utilization of the loan by the members to the extent possible. Group Pressure will be exerted both by the group as well as by the group leaders regarding timely repayment. In the event of non-repayment due to non acceptable reasons, then the entire group will be debarred from receiving any further loans until it is repaid. Penal charges may be levied, if necessary on delayed repayments.

Loan as a multiplier of individual saving

It is observed that the individual savings are of varying proportions. Hence it is desirable to evolve a system of lending related to the individual savings. This could be resolved either by insisting on an uniform amounts of savings from every member or determining the loan as a multiplier of his/her savings.

Advantages of GSF loan scheme

Quite apart from the fact that the proposed scheme serves as a complementary lending scheme to Bank operations, it has the distinct advantage of emerging as a catalyst for creating group strength, dynamism, strong leadership which are extremely beneficial for group mobilization for development. Further

Role of the GPs

Admittedly the role of the GPs in introducing the new loan scheme is heavy. In this regard the requisite exposure to the proposed scheme should be provided to all GPs at a workshop at which the entire process should be explained. The GPs should act as trainers to the Group members as well as Group Leaders on the procedures particularly on the development of GSF criteria, record keeping, follow up, passing of resolutions, etc. In other words the GPs should act as "parents" to the members in regard to this scheme.

Since the proposal is novel it is recommended that once the Group Leaders Forum is established in the AAs, a suitable group is selected to operationalize the GSF loan scheme on a pilot scale and treat it as a training ground for all.

Inter-group associations or Group Leaders Forum?

The slow growth in the inter-group associations has been explained earlier. Basically it is due to: Two solutions to this problem are available: One of the advantages of the development of this structure is to create a platform for them to meet on common grounds and exchange information. The Group Leaders should be guided to discuss common problems faced by the groups, progress achieved in IGAs, possible solutions to common problems and suggestions for improvement. Whatever issues resolved could be transmitted through the leader to their respective groups. The leaders could also be the resource persons who would transmit the information to the newly formed groups and the villagers who are keen in learning about the Project activities. The Group Leaders Forum will serve as the path finder to the Inter-Group Associations in the future and possibly the Village Boards as practiced in some countries.

GPs are of the view that the proposed Group Leaders Forum can easily be energized and institutionalized. The training for this purpose is essential and this has been enumerated in the section dealing with Training for GPs and the Groups. Following steps are desirable:

If the GLF function effectively it could be "federated" into a simple structure as a upper tier where the groups could be unified into one organization. Of course it would take some time.

Recruitment of a Women in Development Officer

Concrete steps have been taken to recruit a WID officer to undertake training and support to the Women Groups. It is the view that this officer should have the proper orientation and qualifications to undertake the anticipated training on rural home improvement. Discussions were held with the Head of the Rural Home Economics Division of the University in order to identify a suitable person.

This has been satisfactorily accomplished. The Head of the Division, a qualified lady with appropriate background, qualifications and experience consented to provide the required interventions and develop training materials and undertake training of trainers as well as develop the capacity of selected Women from the groups to act as trainers to other women groups. Contractual arrangement will be finalized soon to recruit her on a short term Consultancy.

Sharing of experience of PRD Project and the curriculum Development of the Division of Education and Extension of the University (DEE)

At the discussion Consultant had with the Head of the above Division and the Senior academic staff, it was observed that there is a definite programme of enlarging the conceptual framework of the curriculum in regard to Rural Development on a continuing basis. In the curriculum that was used earlier, the concept of rural development revolved round philosophy, objectives and approaches to development, critical reviews of approaches and evolving of a suitable strategy for rural development in Pakistan. Students were guided to identify main problems and constraints and prepare project documents.

This curriculum, admittedly, lacked both in coverage and in depth. A new curriculum has been developed to encompass aspects such as Rural Work Programme, Peoples Work Programmes, IRDP, Social Action Programmes, Participatory Rural Development Projects, National Rural Support Programmes and similar programmes and projects of NGOs. One of the important features of the new curriculum is critical analysis of Governmental plans and policies for rural development. In addition, a scheme of studies for PHD students is also under submission to the University authorities for approval in which there are elements on PRD approaches.

The Division of Education and Extension (DEE) is now in the process of studying the field research projects with the objective of identifying issues and constraints in Participatory Development so that such items could be incorporated into the curriculum.

In order to function effectively in regard to training, it is suggested that the PRD project be selected as the Field Laboratory of the Education and Extension Division. With it's 7 year experience in working in four agro-climatic regions in the country following the participatory development approach and interacting with the most illiterate, deprived farmer groups both men and women, bridging the distance between resources and the resource - poor and overcoming the insensitivities of "officials" dealing with rural poor, this project has demonstrated it's capacity of serving as the most fertile Field Laboratory for training.

The idea of the PRD Project serving as the Field Laboratory for this exercise was wholeheartedly welcomed by the senior staff members of the Division as it would provide the much sought after field level interaction for the Staff and Students which will facilitate the development of practical teaching and research methodologies. It was also accepted that there should be closer interaction with the field project for broad based and wider application of the principles of PRD and it's process through training.

Establishment of a specialized unit for training on Small Farmer Development on PRD principles in the Division of Education and Extension

Now that meaningful steps have been taken by the Division to enlarge the scope of the curriculum by encompassing the PRD process and the experience and in order to create a distinguishable identity to such training, it is necessary that a specialized unit is established in the Division for undertaking PRD training. In view of the readiness of the Division for such training and also due to the fact the University extension education has gained credibility of the farmers due to the non-approachability of the State Departmental Extension systems, it is the view that this Division is the best suited to establish the Training Unit on PRD experience.

The proposal to create a specialized training unit was discussed at length with the Director and other senior staff of the Division. It was pointed out that such a specialized unit will crystalize the training activities relating to PRD process and this experience would eventually facilitate the extension and training envisaged by the proposed SARD Center (which is still in the TCP stage). This was agreed by the Directorate.

Structure of the Special Training Unit on PRD experience

Already there are on-going programmes of training based on PRD experience. Two senior Staff members with PhDs are in charge of training related to this field and one more is scheduled to return from Australia after obtaining PhD in Extension. Therefore, three members of the academic staff will initially man the Unit.

Operational details of the PRD training

The PRD Project site would be the field laboratory of the Unit. Several interactions with the PRD project would be undertaken for curriculum development and training. PHD students could use it for Research. BSc and MSc students in Extension and Rural Home Economics could visit the field sites for identification of issues in PRD process based on which there would be special assignments undertaken by them. Current theories on PRD would be tested in the field and the findings will be used as inputs for course improvements.

Undergraduates would be interacting with Groups and Group Leaders to ascertain the ground conditions and field realities in regard to PRD process and approaches. In fact, arrangements have already been made to send the first batch of students to Gujranwala, Kushab and Faisalabad action areas during early next month.

Field information thus gathered would be utilized for extension information transmission to the farmers through the media currently used by this Division such as pamphlets, radio talks etc.

Similar interaction with other field projects implemented by the NGOs would be arranged for comparison and to ascertain sustainablity. Farmer Groups of the Project would be invited to the Training Unit of the Division for training. Initially it would concentrate on the Farmer Leaders, the members of the Group Leaders Forum of the PRD Project. A Hostel and the basic facilities for farmer training is available in the University. There would be interactions with other farmer leaders in other projects as well. Special Seminars, Workshops, Field Days, Farmer Days will be arranged in suitable locations as part of the programme of the Unit.

Rural credit through self help, a new direction to the PRD Project

PRD Project should now concentrate on moving forward along a fresh path. The PRD process has facilitated the creation of homogeneous groups, IGAS, savings and credit which are sustainable. Therefore the new path of the PRD Project should be Rural Credit through Self Help, (RCSH).

This programme should be viewed as an effort by the rural people to mobilize savings through self help to be utilized for the provision of the most important input, the credit. The special feature of this programme is that it is invented, regulated, operated and monitored by the groups.

Two fundamental institutional arrangements have been recommended in this report namely, Group Leaders Forum (GLF) and Group Saving Fund (GSF). These two should be considered as the corner stones of the proposed RCSH programme. All activities associated with the PRD process such as group formation, training, expansion of IGAs, savings and credit, interaction of officials and groups should be knitted together, converged and directed towards strengthening the RCSH programme.

It is indeed worthwhile for a donor to consider supporting the RCSH initiatives as it is a positive feature springing from the group mobilization process. If anticipated support is forthcoming then the Project should be subjected to structural and administrative changes to provide more dynamism and vibrancy. In the ultimate analysis this self help initiatives in rural credit could propel itself towards the birth of an exiting panorama of similar activities leading towards poverty alleviation, health, education and selective rural infrastructural development in the villages.

Set-up of an NGO structure for administration

It has to be admitted that the University has not been able to provide proper management directions to the Project. In essence, this Project has been a "one man show" ; that of the Project Coordinator. The management of this Project should undergo fundamental restructuring if the proposed new direction is to be followed. Several options are available. One is management by a Project Coordinating Committee comprising representatives of all related agencies including the University. Second is a drastic shift from the State-sponsored administration to a NGO type of management. The second option is indeed preferred as the best mechanism of reaching the disadvantaged groups in the context of participatory rural development in Pakistan.

As amplified in this report, the basic realities in rural Pakistan, i.e. the poverty, illiteracy and the lack of access to resources, particularly the credit for income generation have to be kept in focus in developing the administrative structure of this project . The NGO that is recommmended is a simple two tier structure, a Board of Management at the apex and several Field Units. The Board of Management should comprise the representatives of the Group Leaders and the Project Coordinator functioning as the advisor or the patron. The Head of this Board should be an elected representative of the Groups. The second tier is the Field structure, that is the Group Leaders Forum with the Group Promoter as the adviser. Since all operational aspects of the new thrust area will be determined by the groups at the Forum, their representatives at the Board of Management will establish the linkage between the field and the Apex.

The NGO should be registered and it should reflect clearly the objectives some of which are:



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