RSPN Hosts the National Convention of Local Support Organisations

Islamabad : The Rural Support Programmes Network hosted the Annual National Convention of Local Support Organisations 2022 at Marriott Hotel, Islamabad, on December 13, 2022.

The Convention is a platform to interact with LSOs (community-based institutions at the Union Council level), donor agencies, development partners and other stakeholders to share local knowledge and learn from their experiences of implementing community driven development approach in Pakistan’s rural communities.

The LSO convention 2022 focused on local communities’ efforts to address sustainable development goals (SDGs), poverty graduation of households and climate change.

Representatives of LSOs from all four provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu Kashmir presented their work on implementing the community driven development approach, inclusion of vulnerable members of the community and efforts to graduate households out of poverty.

It also reflected on the communities’ efforts to mainstream SDGs at the local level, their relief and rehabilitation response to recent floods and effects of climate change.
The CEO RSPN, Shandana Khan, gave opening remarks and acknowledged the RSPs, community members and especially women on their presence at this event to celebrate yet another year of successful efforts to reduce poverty at the household level and empower the local communities.

Opening the session on implementation of poverty graduation programmes, Shoaib Sultan Khan, Chairman RSPN, highlighted the significance of the approach and its successful adoption in Pakistan and South Asian regions. He iterated “Our approach is a development partnership where community members, RSPs and Government Institutions work in synergy to fulfil their obligation towards a better society”

Reflecting on the journey of implementing the RSPs poverty graduation programme, Sher Afzal Khan, Manager, Biyar, LSO district Chitral mentioned that “We believe that it is utmost importance for communities to help themselves. The evidence is our saving of PKR 30 million. Our community runs village banks for improving access to finance for the poor members of the community”

A large number of women from villages across Pakistan participated in the event and shared their experiences and learnings of working with these programmes. Zareena, President LSO Shaikh Joi, district Dadu highlighted, “Through the savings at the community organisation level, women are now able to independently take initiatives and contribute to the household finances.”

the President of Tootak LSO from district Khuzdar in Balochistan shared how their LSO has developed linkages. “We advocated with the Education Department for opening of a girl’s school in the village and facilitated the Health Department in times of COVID. These linkages have established mutual trust and strengthening of partnership between citizens and the line departments.

Noreen shared, “After the adult literacy training, women are now able to write their names and fill forms requiring basic information, this is a life-altering learning and is a significant step towards empowerment of rural women”

Government officials, representative from other donor agencies and development partners also participated. The Additional Chief Secretary (Development) for the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms, Dawood Muhammad Barech “There is a gap between the demand and Governments supplies and services which can be bridged through engagement, participation and community involvement”

The second session highlighted the efforts of community members and other development partners in responding to the destruction caused by floods and climate change. Asif Turangzai, Disaster Risk Management Specialist from Asian Development Bank highlighted the significance of intersection of indigenous knowledge and academia “We always include communities in our projects as it is more beneficial.

Communities have indigenous knowledge and we have academic knowledge therefore, RSPN has won big in creating these linkages. I am thankful to RSPN for bringing all these NGOs under one platform today on a multilingual forum.”

Hina Lotia, Advisor Climate Change from World Bank iterated on the importance of integration of various sectors in implementing development initiatives. “We take knowledge from RSPs for our programs.

The world bank climate change action plan has integrated all development sectors like agriculture. Major focus is on poverty eradication and shared prosperity. In our recent report we have taken floods into account and noted down pathways for more work in future. Strengthening of human capital is also under focus. The civil society platform on climate change has provided us consultation.”

The platform of LSO convention will facilitate well-integrated future programme designs, policy formulation and supply and services by the government, incorporating the needs of communities

RSPN serves as a strategic platform for its nine member RSPs that bring together over 40 years of knowledge and experience in Community-Driven Development. RSPN is the largest civil society network of Pakistan with an outreach to 8.5 million rural households, representing a population of over 55 million in 150 out of 156 districts/regions of Pakistan.

The centre-piece of the RSP approach is social mobilisation. It assists the poor and marginalised people to efficiently manage their locally available resources, improve their access to social and financial services and strengthens their participation in local decision making.

Local Support Organisations or LSOs are community institutions, at the union council level, with a large membership based in villages. The RSPs have fostered 2400 Local Support Organisations across the country.

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