February 2015, Gilgit-Baltistan: Because the tiny village of just 150 households had no road of any sort, the villagers could not use any machinery to till their 300 fields. No tractors, trucks or threshers could be used to help till the land, harvest the crops, or transport them to market. It was a place lost in time: work was hard, harvests modest, and the cost and effort of getting crops to market meant their incomes were tiny.
While a link road to the village was the first priority for the village, the Local Support Organisation (LSO) that also supported other villages could only assign a modest part of its overall budget to serve such a small community.
So the Deeping Participatory Governance (DPG) project team prepared a feasibility study and sat down with the villagers to work out a way to build the 1.2 km road for just 700,000 rupees (around EUR 6,000). Of this, the LSO agreed that 600,000 rupees could be covered with the DGP project funding if the villagers would contribute the rest, mainly in terms of local materials.
The road was completed in 8-9 months. At the inauguration ceremony, when the commissioner, the deputy commissioners, and political representatives arrived, they were astonished at the quality of the construction and how inexpensively the road had been built.
This was far less than it would have cost the local government to complete it, they declared. The villagers explained this was because they did much of the work themselves, and had provided the land for the road without seeking compensation, since they needed the road so badly.
Given the extensive needs of the area and the modest budget to cover it, the Commissioner was deeply impressed by this model, and the commitment the villagers had shown. He even agreed to incorporate other LSO priorities into his annual budget. As a next step the government will help fund a boundary wall around the local school, essential to improve security in particular for the female students. Once again, the investment will be modest, because the community will be happy to participate in this priority activity by contributing their labour and local materials.
Deepening Participatory Governance in Gilgit-Baltistan
June 2013 – March 2016
100,000 persons of which 50% include women, poor and marginalised groups
Assistant Commissioner Shigar, Mr. Jaffar
Length of road:
100,000 rupees, plus land and labour costs