Empowering communities to solve development problems in a participatory manner

23 Jan 2014

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H.E Mr. Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, Ambassador of the European Union Delegation to Pakistan and Mr. Haoliang Xu, UN Assistant Secretary General and Director Regional Bureau of Asia and the Pacific United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) inaugurated the drinking water supply scheme in Village Chowki Drab in Nowshera, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Addressing the community members, Mr. Wigemark emphasised the importance of area-based development. He said that the European Union is focusing on empowering the communities to solve their development problems in a democratic, transparent and participatory manner.

Mr. Xu expressed his appreciation to the European Union for its generous funding of the RAHA programme, through which most pressing community needs are addressed. He said that in developing countries like Pakistan, the involvement of communities in their own development is critical for effective sustainable development that can help withstand any kind of crisis.

The RAHA programme has so far benefitted more than 3.8 million community members in the target districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (3.0 million) and Balochistan (0.8 million) through infrastructure interventions such as the drinking water project being inaugurated today. Of these, 1.35 million are direct beneficiaries, 2.35 million are indirect beneficiaries and the remaining 0.1 million are Afghan refugees.

This project is being jointly implemented by UNDP and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Planning and Development Department in six districts of the province with the financial support of the European Union.

The programme works together with communities in villages and local support organisations to pursue area-based development. This approach results in a more holistic development plan which aims to overcome the social, economic and environmental challenges in areas that have been most affected by the influx of more than 3 million Afghan refugees since 1979.

Due to interventions undertaken in partnership with the government line departments, communities now have better access to schools, health facilities and other basic social services. Joint ownership by the community and the government ensures sustainability of project interventions. The project also illustrates the benefits of adopting a participatory approach towards development and has resulted in government efforts to improve community participation in their development interventions.

In the target districts of RAHA project, the participation of women in community activities has been ensured through formation of women community and village organisations. The programme has a female social mobilisation team that helps enhance the capacity of women community organisations, in accordance with the social and cultural norms of the target areas.