Rural Support Programmes are need of the time indeed
It would not be wrong to say that Rural Support Programmes (RSPs) are a national asset of Pakistan. They are Pakistani organisation with highly qualified and committed professionals and a large number of rural activists who help their organisations to execute programmes.
What RSPs are, how they work – a briefer :
The RSPs are not ‘typical’ Non-Govermental Orgqnizations (NGOs) as the largest ones were set up by either the federal or provincial governments eg National, Sarhad, Balochistan, Punjab, Sindh. The purpose of this was to work in collaboration with government service delivery departments by mobilising people into their own institutions, so that public services would reach down to the poorest households, who are organised by the RSPs. Over the years the work of RSPs has begun to impact government and donors policies, bringing communities more to centre-sage to sit across the table from government at the local level, to resolve issues and make government more accountable.
RSPs’ role in pandemic of Covid-19:
Due to the existence of a large grassroots network of community organsiations, the Rural Suport Programmes Network (RSPN) was appraoched by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) to do a large scale campaign in rural Pakistan on awareness about COVID-19, and preventive measures. RSPs have linked 1500 community institutions at the union council level to the district health departments in 66 districts for community activists to be trained in ‘contact’ tracing and suspected case reporting. The RSPs found that there was very little knoweldge about the disease in rural areas, and even less testing. The national challenge of encouraging people to ‘physically’ distance, wear face covers etc is being met by hundreds of community activists, including many women activists, to encourage behavioue change in Pakistan’s villages. The RSPs have now offered to government to scale up this initiative to cover 130 million rural Pakistani.
Collaboration of RSPs with Government:
The collaboration of RSPs with government means that government outreach to rural communities, especially in remote and difficult areas, is improved. Apart from partnering with a host of large and small foreign donors, INGOs, private sector actors, the work of RSPs with government is, therefore, cricital. Why? Because the RSPs provide the largest outreach in rural Pakistan, unparalledeld by any other organsiations; because they have government support and because they have set up a large grassroots network of community organsiations that can be leveraged for any partner to work with. Most importantly, government is beginning to design programmes with strong community drive-development components, with Sindh government being in the forefront of this. RSPs are able to connect government to the poorest households, at the micro level which is not the role of government. It is only when people are organised that government can interact effectively with them.
RSPN in Pakistan,and for the world too:
RSPN consists of ten members RSPs that espouse a common approach to rural development. RSPN has facilitated the Government of Pakistan in expanding rural development programmes to millions of Pakistanis. The current outreach of the RSPN is to 54 million people, in 149 districts in all provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir. A total of 8.4 million households are members of 489,525 Community Organisations that have been capacitated to implement micro-level development programmes and partner with government at the local level to improve service delivery.It is this framework of organised communities, that makes RSPN a worthy partner to government, donors and other stakeholders committed to development in Pakistan.
RSPN’s work with the Government of Pakistan and external donors has made Pakistan proud at many international platforms, where Pakistan’s work has been show-cased. This includes an address to the UN General Assembly by RSPN’s Chairman, Shoiab Sultan Khan in 2009. Khan has also been instrumental in replicating Pakistan’s successful social mobilisation approach of the RSPs in six SAARC countries, under a UNDP financed South Asia Poverty Alleviation Programme, mandated by a SAARC Charter of 1994.
Renowned poet and columinst visits RSPN:
Kashif Shamim Siddiqui, a renowned poet & columninst recently visited Rural Suport Programmes Network office in karachi and met with the staff members. Purpose of the visit was to apraised the efforts of RSPN team, based in the city, for their tireless contribution in the great intrest of deprived communities.
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RSPN Karachi Office : Kashif Shamim Siddiqui having conversations with the staff members including Mudassar Ahmed, Programme Director, RSPN-EU, ER3 component of Programme for implementation of Nutrition in Sindh (PINS).[/caption]