Energy and Natural Resource Management (ENRM) are central concerns in poverty reduction, since millions of people in Pakistan rely directly on agriculture and livestock management for their livelihood. Across the country, soil and water pollution and loss of natural habitats are major problems. In many areas soil salinity and water pollution have reduced yields and the amount of arable land. These and other problems lead to more people, especially the poor, being ‘food insecure’.
The need for information on ENRM changes rapidly because of weather-related natural disasters such as the floods of 2010 and 2011 and ongoing climate change. To address both development and emergency issues as fully as possible NRSP has one full time NRM Specialist and one full-time Doctor of Veterinary Medicine on staff in the Head Office and 8 District Livestock Officers and 32 ENRM staff in its District and Field Unit Offices.
The ENRM section works with COs, VOs and LSOs with the Government, UN Agencies such as the FAO and IFAD, and with Agricultural Universities in Punjab and Sindh to link farmers across the NRSP programme area with modern sources of information about such matters as increasing yields in a sustainable manner and reducing environmental impacts. In a changing environment, community members need to know how to improve their agricultural, livestock, poultry and kitchen gardening outputs in a sustainable manner. NRSP has also designed and held training courses to improve the in-house expertise and the quality of livestock and agricultural extension services.
Another focus for ENRM is the introduction of new technologies, both for resource conservation and for alternative forms of energy. The Pakistan Council on Renewable Energy and Technology has approached NRSP to collaborate on several sustainable energy projects. These include the construction of biogas plants (as part of the Sustainable Livelihoods in Barani (rainfed) Areas Project in Districts Rawalpindi and Mianwali) and more recently the installation of solar power panels with RSPN. Research and pilot projects provide new knowledge and have the potential to solve particular agricultural problems. We use the findings to improve project design and training inputs and methods. The findings also inform our advocacy efforts.
Livestock is a significant source of income for millions of families in Pakistan. Two of NRSP’s recent efforts focussed on improving livestock outputs were: The Prime Minister’s Special Initiative for Livestock (2006 to June 2010) a large scale effort to improve productivity and breeding practices and the ‘Rural Development through Livestock and Dairy Development’ project implemented in District Rahim Yar Khan (Punjab).
NRSP was an implementing partner in this large scale, 5-year project, which was part of an agreement between the Federal Government, the Rural Support Programmes Network and eight Rural Support Programmes. The overarching objectives were to enhance livestock productivity, measured as increases in milk and meat production. The project’s modus operandi involved setting up 98 Veterinary Clinics, each with a DVM on staff, to provide diagnostic and curative services. Nine District Livestock Officers (one for each NRSP Region) were also on staff. A revolving fund of PKR 39.2 Million for purchasing veterinary medicines was established: these medicines are dispensed from the Clinics. The cost of the medicines is subsidised by the Project, so farmers pay less than market rates. The link with communities and the need for enhanced Livestock Extension Services was understood to be vital: 2,450 Community Livestock Extension Workers (CLEWs) were recruited and trained in 29 Districts (4 in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, 15 in Punjab, and 4 each in Sindh AJK). The concept of training and utilizing Community Livestock Extension Workers follows from the social mobilisation practice of utilizing ‘Community Resource Persons’: in this case, the CLEWS were taught basic veterinary and animal husbandry practices and delivered these services in their communities. They were taught to de-worm and vaccinate animals, diagnose and treat minor diseases, and provided a valuable link to the DVMs for more serious matters that required higher levels of skill. Some of the CLEWs have been able to establish small businesses as a result of their work. In 2008 the MER section conducted an impact assessment of the CLEWs’ performance: An additional input was training close to 21,000 women in enhanced animal care practices. Many have since adopted better animal husbandry practices.
When the PMSIL officially concluded in June 2010 NRSP continued the work, now known as the Livestock Project. The benefits of the two consecutive projects are enormous. The DVMs and CLEWs have inseminated over 100,000 animals, de-wormed close to 3.5 million and vaccinated close to 7.5 million. Overall, close to 1.2 million households have benefitted from these programmes.