Even women and elderly help fix road

Fixing the road has maximized economic benefits for the community
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The children can now easily travel to and from their school
May 2015, Kanuiyan, AJK: The difficult terrain, harsh weather conditions and steep, narrow lane out of the village made life difficult for the residents of village Kanuiyan. So when they were offered a chance to improve by helping to fix the road, they didn’t hesitate.

“In all the years I’ve served as a public official, I never saw the villagers unite and work so hard for a common cause as they did to upgrade the road in village Kanuiyan”, said Safdar Kiani, a local government official. Local women, children and even the elderly turned up to help construct the road.

Their enthusiasm to fix the road was easy to understand. During the rainy seasons, the road was so bad that children found it difficult to get to school. It was also very difficult for the women to carry water in earthen pots balanced on their heads. As the Local Support Organisation’s (LSO) Vice-President, Fareeza Khurshid, recalls, “pregnant women were afraid to go out, and one person even died because the ambulance could not reach him on time.”

So when the NRSP approached the community in November 2014 to reactivate the dead LSO, Fareeza was very much interested. Together with other community representatives, they agreed the road was one of their first concerns.

The problem was, it would cost nearly 3 million rupees to build. However, the NRSP estimated that it could be done for 574,785 rupees which their EU-funded Rural Development project would fund, if the community itself provided the labour at nominal cost. The community readily agreed.

“By doing the work ourselves we got the work done in just four months. If we’d waited for outsiders, it probably wouldn’t have even started yet. It was also really good for the community, because everyone helped,” Fareeza explained.

The project had a direct economic benefit on the community, as local people were hired for the construction work. “And now that the road is fixed, transport costs and the prices of goods are lower and businesses are doing better,” the LSO president, Sardar Mumtaz Khan, noted.

Thanks to the training on organisational skills, planning and budgeting, the community is now much better able to plan new projects.

For construction projects, frequent interactions with local government representatives has made it easier to obtain official “No Objection Certificate.” Morever, public officials have also been encouraged to regularly monitor the work being carried out and provide useful feedback.

But the LSO is also looking to improve services in other areas, and has now made each of their members responsible for a separate sector. Thus, for example, Fareeza is now responsible for Health, and Ishaq Sabri for Education.

One of their tasks is to establish connections with relevant local government authorities, and find out what support is available. Already, the authorities have helped put them in contact with the Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority which has set up a vocational training centre for the community. Currently the 45 unemployed youth are being trained to become welders, plumbers and electricians.

Fact Box

Project:
Supporting Inclusive Development through Community-Government Capacity Building and Partnership in three districts of Azad Jammu and Kashmir

Road Specifications:
2300 ft

Total cost:
5,74,785 rupees

Community share:
1,17,730 rupees

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The VO meetings help identify important issues that need to be solved to ensure better living standards
“In all the years I’ve served as a public official, I never saw the villagers unite and work so hard for a common cause as they did to upgrade the road in village Kanuiyan.”

Safdar Kiani, local government official

Fact Box

Households benefitting: 156

Start of activity: 18/12/2014

Completion of activity: 30/04/2015

Total number of locals employed: 30




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