It was only when the NRSP approached the community members to reactivate the dead Village Organisation (VO), that Kaneez Fatima was able to find a way out.
Through various trainings and workshops, Kaneez Fatima and other villagers learned how to plan, organise and develop budgets, and interact with and gain support from local government representatives for their various ideas.
As a result, a number of government departments reached out to help the communities. For example, the Livestock Department provided training on Poultry Development and nine women were given 20 hens each.
Kaneez Fatima was one of those nine. “At first I sold eggs to the villagers at a small profit. Then with the help of my VO, I was able to procure more hens and grow my poultry business.”
Now Kaneez Fatima has built contacts with market suppliers and is able to sell hens to the market and earn a comfortable living. She, however, by no means is the only beneficiary of the work of the Village Organisation.
As Aslam Sheikh from the Agriculture Department explained, “When people gather and invite us to their discussions we get to know about their problem and needs.”
He further added that by being able to work with a truly representative organisation, they were better able to address the needs of everyone, including more vulnerable members, rather than just the more educated and “influential villagers”.
At the request of the VO, government officials conducted workshops on health and livestock development. Vaccination drives were held during which children were given polio drops, animals were vaccinated for diseases, and campaigns were held to raise awareness around reproductive health issues.
The agriculture department was able to distribute fruit and vegetable seeds as per the soil conditions to 200 villagers. All this has greatly improved the health and livelihood of the villagers.
And in future, women who might suffer the same fate as Kaneez Fatima are likely to find It easier to earn a living. This is largely because Kamial’s Village Organisation plans to create a Vocational Traning Centre to teach young girls stitching and sewing.
Alia Aziz, the VO President, described their plans with enthusiasm. “We have identified more than 100 girls who want to be trained since no one will allow them to go the city and obtain training there. We have also identifed the teachers, all we need now are the machines.”
European Union (EU)
National Rural Support Programme (NRSP)
Aslam Sheikh, member of Agriculture Department
District: Poonch, AJK
Total number of CO members: 47 males, 80 females