The community-driven approach to sanitation in Pakistan originated with the world-famous Orangi Pilot Project (known as OPP) in Karachi, led by the renowned Dr. Akhtar Hameed Khan. The Lodhran Pilot Project, which began in 1999, was modeled on the OPP. According to the UNDP study titled Accelerating the Pace of Development: A Case Study of the Lodhran Pilot Project (2002) the essence of the OPP model and of the Lodhran Pilot Project (Punjab) was to separate responsibility for urban sanitation infrastructure into two ‘domains’: with large scale infrastructural inputs remaining the responsibility of Government and small scale, local inputs being taken care of by local people who were organised into committees that managed mohalla (street and locality) inputs. The LPP was implemented in partnership with local Government (p.19) and drew on the skills and dedication of Social Organisers, Activists and local committees, whose members understood the principles of the Project. The report notes how local skepticism about the LPP was addressed and how opponents were persuaded that the Project would be beneficial. As noted in the same report, what was then NRSP’s Rural Sanitation Cell collaborated with the LPP in implementing sewage systems in 13 villages surrounding Lodhran (p. 17). The Case Study makes the point that although the LPP has been successful, it made no effort to include women, which was a serious oversight. It also identifies the numerous technical and social innovations that the Lodhran pilot project brought about.
NRSP has utilised similar methods in its efforts to bring affordable sanitation infrastructure to villages in many parts of its programme area. An early initiative was NRSP’s partnership with the Punjab Public Health and Engineering Department (1999). The Review of this initiative, by the Multi-Donor Support Unit for the Social Action Programme Project (SAPP), began by stating that it was initiated to address several issues: “the coverage of Rural Water Supply and Sanitation was very low, the quality of water did not meet minimum standards, and hundreds of systems built by the [PHED] in most of the provinces were inoperative”(p.1). The report concluded, inter alia, that more community involvement was needed at every stage, from planning to post-construction maintenance, if the situation was to improve.
It was in this project that the practices of partnerships with what were called Non-Formal Institutions (NFIs) i.e. non-governmental organisations – and the principles of Social Mobilisation were integrated into the system of community-driven rural sanitation infrastructure in Pakistan. NRSP was the major implementing partner. The Pakistan Health Education Department was responsible for all technical inputs and NRSP for the community-level organisations: principally forming Water Users’ Committees and encouraging local participation through them.