Inclusion of rural communities’ opinions in decisions related to their own areas was pivotal for sustainable development in the city, observed Sindh Minister for Planning and Development Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani, on Tuesday.
He was presiding over the national convention of Local Support Organisations (LSOs) organised by the Rural Support Programmes Network (RSPN) and European Union.
Other prominent development policy makers and practitioners who attended the convention stressed on fostering people’s organisations and strengthen them to complement government’s political and administrative pillars.
The speakers were unanimous in observing that national and provincial level local development policies and budgets should be made effective enough to reduce the rate of poverty in households.
Bijarani said rural communities’ commitment to their villages and towns was very strong, and if made a part of the decision making process, they could deliver miraculous results.
He appreciated efforts of rural support programmes (RSPs) in poverty reduction and transformation of lives of rural communities, especially women.
RSPN serves as a platform for 11 member RSPs that work for Community-Driven Development (CDD) to economically and socially empower rural communities.
The convention provided organised communities a forum for strategic coordination, sharing experiences, networking, and showcasing new initiatives by the LSOs; achievements of LSOs in their respective areas were also discussed.
RSPN Chairman, Sultan Khan, in his welcome address said RSP’s main approach was social mobilisation of the poor in order to get them directly involved in decisions which affect their lives and prospects.
“Since poverty is strongly felt at household levels, these poor households have to be organised into community or village organisations or sometimes at union council level local support organisations (LSOs) since they are the third social pillar of the state.”
They should work with administrative and political institutes for rural poverty and development issues to be properly addressed, Khan added.
Economic Affairs Division (EAD) deputy secretary Kalsoom Hai said organised communities should work with government and politicians to bring their real development potential to light. She appreciated the work done by the organised communities with the support of RSPs.
Punjab Additional Chief Secretary Shumail Ahmad Khawaja while addressing the convention informed the audience that the Punjab government was seriously considering launching the first phase of the poverty reduction programme through social mobilisation in selected districts. He also desired for similar LSO convention to be organised in Lahore in the near future.
Earlier, RSPN chief operating officer Khaleel Tetlay shed light on approach and work of the RSPs and how they were enabling and nurturing the environment of the rural poor.
He informed the convention that RSPN through its member RSPs had so far fostered 6.6 million rural households into 386,000 community organisations, while over 1,200 local support organisations have become a part of the sustainable development process.
EU Pakistan’s Rural Development and Economic Cooperation head Dr Amaury Hoste said poverty was a crucial issue in Pakistan which needed to be resolved at the earliest.
He said the EU had observed results proven by RSPs’ approach on poverty reduction and sustainable rural development. Dr Hoste further stressed on organised communities interaction and dialogue with policy makers to speed up the development process through CDD.
Federal and provincial government officials, representatives of EU, donor organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), senior officials of RSPs, and representatives of LSOs participated in the convention.
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