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Since 1993 NRSP has worked with members of Community Organisations, and more recently with Village Organisations and Local Support Organisations, in planning and constructing small scale engineering projects, known as Community Physical Infrastructure (CPI) projects. These are typically one of four kinds: drinking water supply schemes, irrigation initiatives, communications (primarily roads) and sewer and drainage projects. We have also implemented 27 Model Village development projects and 40 Integrated Area Upgrading projects, all of them community-based. In addition, where it is feasible, we pilot test alternative energy projects such as solar lights and pumps and biogas plants. We have also recently introduced two new water technologies: the Hydro Ram pump transports water uphill very efficiently and the ‘forced hand pump’ meets home composite water and sanitation needs in arid and flood affected areas.
NRSP Engineers and local community members work together to identify, plan, execute and monitor physical infrastructure schemes. This process enhances the abilities of village residents to identify and plan projects and make the best uses of local resources. It also minimises environmental impacts and ensures sustainability. Every scheme must benefit a wide range of recipients, be cost-effective and sustainable and have no adverse environmental impacts. Social Mobililisation is the key to ensuring that the schemes are community-owned.
Our Engineers and Social Organisers utilise transparent accounting systems during the execution of the schemes. This ensures that everyone involved, including the CO members who have contributed money and/or labour, knows the exact status of spending and progress. We try to ensure that women have a say in identifying projects. In several ways we encourage people to develop a sense of ownership for the projects in their villages: this ensures that the implemented schemes are not neglected and that they retain their usefulness for as long as possible.
Our Engineers conduct a social feasibility assessment that indicates factors such as the CO’s ability to prevent or resolve conflicts which might arise. The Engineers and CO members then prepare cost estimates according to the market rates of labour and materials. The Engineers prepare a portfolio of all the schemes identified as priority community projects. The NRSP management takes responsibility for creating linkages or mobilizing resources for the community to implement these projects. When NRSP is able to mobilize the necessary financial resources – or to create linkages with the concerned government and/or private developmental organizations – a second round of dialogue is carried out with the COs to see if the schemes are still priorities. The CO is then informed in its meetings whether the scheme merits financial assistance. If it does, the CO is informed about the source, type and conditions of financial and technical assistance. The amount of contribution and commitment from donors and the COs are equally important and are therefore carefully discussed during the meetings.
Whatever their nature, these CPIs add tremendously to the physical quality of life in a village by enhancing productivity, improving livelihoods, protecting people’s health and restoring essential services.
To ensure community ownership, the members of COs are required to contribute money, materials or labour, usually to an equivalent of 20% of the total cost, to a CPI project. They are also required to form an Operations and Maintenance Committee, which functions in the long term to protect the physical and social viability of the infrastructure. In some cases, the communities opt to fund schemes from their own savings, supplemented by credit from NRSP. In projects implemented with PPAF support, the residents are required to raise 20% of the cost (which may be in cash, materials or labour) and PPAF provides 80%. In order to ensure that the poorest community members can benefit from a CPI, they usually contribute labour. In disaster response physical infrastructure restoration our usual practice is to waive the requirement for contributions from the disaster-ridden communities, although many people provide labour in order to contribute and to speed the reconstruction process.
Since the year 2000 NRSP has been an implementing partner of the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) which has contributed to funding CPIs. In addition to PPAF our flood relief projects have been funded by UNDP, the Asian Development Bank, UNICEF, DfID, AKRSP, Catholic Relief Services, Plan Pakistan and the Federal and Provincial Governments.
Drought mitigation and preparedness schemes, such as dams and ponds, protect livelihoods in a sustainable manner. Given the increasing number of disasters of various kinds (militant attacks, earthquakes, cyclones and floods) the reconstruction of homes, schools and health facilities and roads and bridges is becoming ever more prominent. Our sector Engineers have provided extensive technical support to community members in rescue, recovery, relief and reconstruction and rehabilitation activities. We co-ordinated with donors and with the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority, the National and Provincial Disaster Management authorities and with District governments to support their response efforts. Following the 2005 earthquake we rebuilt 37,000 houses to earthquake-resistant standards in AJK. During the IDP crisis in Swat (2009), and the riverine floods in 2010 we implemented 68 relief and rehabilitation projects benefiting about 0.8 million households in 27 Districts. Following the 2011 floods we implemented 19 relief and rehabilitation projects benefiting about 0.450 million households in five Districts of Sindh.