Programme launched to address rural poverty in Sindh


KARACHI: The European Union (EU) delegation to Pakistan, the Government of Sindh and the Rural Support Programmes Network (RSPN) launched the European Union funded six-year Sindh Union Council and Community Economic Strengthening Support (SUCCESS) programme in Karachi on Wednesday.

The objective of the SUCCESS programme is to reduce poverty through undertaking Community Driven Development (CDD) based on the proven social mobilisation approach of Rural Support Programmes (RSPs). The programme will cover eight districts including Tando Mohammad Khan, Sujawal, Matiari, Tando Allahyar, Larkana, Kambar Shahdadkot, Dadu and Jamshoro.

EU Ambassador in Pakistan His Excellency Mr. Jean-François Cautain, Additional Deputy Secretary Sindh Mr. Ajaz Ali Khan, Chairman RSPN Mr. Shoaib Sultan Khan, Chief Executive Officer RSPN Mr. Khaleel Ahmed Tetlay, Chief Executive Officer National Rural Support Programme (NRSP) Dr. Rashid Bajwa, EU officials, representatives of partner organisations for SUCCESS programme, government officials and civil society representatives attended the ceremony.

Mr. Ajaz Ali Khan said SUCCESS was a salient innovation in making and through this programme we could be able to bring actual change in the society. He said that it was very encouraging that the programme will involve and be led by the women. He said that Sindh government was fully committed to this programme and was intended to back it until end. He observed that one of the fundamental issues in Sindh was to accommodate talented and educated youth into industry and job market. SUCCESS will also open door to new opportunities for rural youth who would be able to work in their home districts, he remarked.

His Excellency Mr. Jean-François Cautain said he had worked in Afghanistan and they had tried to mobilise communities. But the philosophy of the Rural Support Programmes, with their 30 years long experience widely documented in its successes across Pakistan, convinced the EU to recognise the multiple opportunities offered by the three-tiered social mobilisation approach in fields as different as promotion of a culture of participation, inclusivity and solidarity, direct provision of front-line services, planning and development, business creation, savings, conflict resolution, dialogue and interaction with local authorities.

The Ambassador said that SUCCESS programme was developed at the request of the government of Sindh (GoS) to extend the geographic coverage of their Union Council Based Poverty Reduction Programme (UCBPRP) to eight rural districts of Sindh. “This clearly shows the commitment of the Government of Sindh to this approach.”This programme includes a small component of Technical Assistance (TA), amounting to 1.5 million Euros, to be provided to the GoS. This TA will assist the GoS in designing a dedicated Sindh policy and budget framework for community-driven local development, to be implemented from 2018 onwards. The SUCCESS programme, as the UCBPRP, will be focusing heavily on women as their primary beneficiaries, he stated.

Giving opening remarks, Mr. Shoaib Sultan Khan shared with the audience that back in 2009, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah listened to the strategies of RSPs and approved the Union Council Based Poverty Reduction Programme (UCBPRP) for two most backward districts of the province namely Shikarpur and Kashmore. Mr. Shoaib said that the UCBRPR worked only with women and empowered them not only economically but also on attaining self-confidence and power of their own potential to improve their status.

Mr. Shoaib termed it a fortunate incidence saying that a group of EU Delegation officials led by Mr. Brend de Groot visited interior of Sindh, going to coastal areas, desert area and Upper Sindh. The group was so impressed by the RSPs’ mobilisation process especially empowerment of women achieved under the UCBPRP. At Mr. Groot’s behest, Mr. Shoaib further said, a meeting was arranged of EU officials with CM Sindh and resulted in the formulation of the SUCCESS programme, which will cover eight districts on the line of UCBPRP.

Mr. Shoaib said that the Sindh government is planning to cover the remaining districts of the province according to union council based strategy through provincial funding under its annual development fund.

Mr. Khaleel Ahmed Tetlay said that with the SUCCESS programme, RSPN, NRSP, Sindh Rural Support Organisation (SRSO), and Thardeep Rural Development Programme (TRDP) will be working in eight districts of Sindh to mobilise 770,000 rural poor households into 32,400 Community Organisations (COs), 3,240 Village Organisations (VOs) and 307 Local Support Organisations (LSOs), Mr. Tetlay remarked.

He stated that SUCCESS programme would keep its focus on fostering sustainable and financially viable network of community institutions and to contribute to poverty reduction, and also to link the community institutions with the government service delivery departments.

Dr. Rashid Bajwa said SUCCESS is a historic programme in terms of poverty reduction as there were milestones achieved earlier including the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) experience, setting up of NRSP by the government of Pakistan and other provincial rural support programmes.

Dr. Bajwa was of the view that the programme would change the dynamics of the lives of rural poor in Sindh and transform them into productive citizens. He congratulated the Sindh government and EU for taking a decision which will have sustainable impact on poor as well as rural poverty.