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Sanjh Development Foundation Mianwali -PAKISTAN 
email = seraikisf@yahoo.com 

Social development of marginalized communities especially women through mobilization, group formation and capacity development

Description = slums in Mianwali district shows For the next five years SDF experience of working with rural and urban that a poverty alleviation process must take into consideration people\'s awareness, understanding and acceptance. Projects need to be identified, designed, executed and evaluated by the poor themselves, based on their own needs and perceptions. As the process evolves, it also depends on the internalization of the group\'s needs. None of this can be predetermined as required by the conventional project approach.

Experience now confirms that poverty cannot be eradicated without the participation of the poor themselves. Any strategy of sustainable development, designed with the objective of eradicating poverty, has to involve the large numbers of the poor and has to begin by bringing about unity among them.

The rhetoric of the empowerment of the poor through their participation has entered the vocabulary of conventional thinking and practice on poverty alleviation. But the fact that participation and empowerment of the poor are alternative instruments that can permit the poor greater access to resources (not only to land but also to credit, health and education) and ensure greater equity has yet to be properly internalized. Participation means building countervailing power which leads to a healthier democracy.

The focus on immediate issues rather than on larger concerns of social and political transformation has led, in each case, to a movement from the simple to the complex; from a reliance on external support, to generating community resources for self-reliance and self-development; from knowledge and skills being in the hands of external agents of change and the elite to being more widely shared in a participatory manner; and from power being concentrated among a few to it being dispersed so that internal authoritarianism is less likely to arise. Above all, it displays a resurgence of confidence by the poor themselves in the making of their own future.

SDF’s experience also endorses that where the poor participate as subjects and not as objects of the development process, it is possible to generate growth, human development and equity.

These instances demonstrate that at relatively lower levels of income it is possible to achieve a high level of human development.

All SDF’s success cases have demonstrated that through the formation of homogenous community groups with similar socio-economic backgrounds, the poor can achieve human development and contribute to growth. Individually, they would not have been able to overcome the obstacles in their struggle for survival, security and self-respect. Poor women, who carry the double burden of being women and poor, have gained positively in this approach. Alone, a poor woman is very vulnerable, but a number of women coming together creates a sense of solidarity. For all categories of the poor, organization is strength. Building organizations of the poor requires awareness-building and sensitizing the poor to the causes of poverty and the need for concerted action to overcome them.

Once organized into groups, the success cases motivated their members to start regular if very modest saving. Regular saving provides a new sense of an accumulation process and also contributes to a higher level of empowerment. Savings preceded access to credit. In the past, the poor were dependent on moneylenders who not only charged exorbitant rates of interest but also demanded a dehumanizing dependent relationship. Success has been greater where credit and savings have been integrated. Repayment capacity and group cohesion have also been strengthened as collective savings became a new common property that provided equitable benefits. Although over the past five decades, the government allocated substantial sums of money for credit purposes, particularly for the poor, their delivery and utilization have been limited. These limitations are often the result of the very culture of lending institutions. They cannot reach the millions of poor because of bureaucratic procedures and collateral requirements. This does not mean that the poor do not use credit. In the absence of formal sources of credit, they revert to the informal sector and are forced to enter the \"debt trap\" of moneylenders. Annual interest rates are invariably very high and often range between 100-300 percent while formal interest rates are much lower. This is equally true when they borrow for their survival needs from moneylenders. The debt trap has sometimes led to bondage.

Experience shows that once adequate savings accumulated, the poor could start their own group credit programs without the need for formal collateral. Group activities also ensured a high rate of repayment because of peer group pressure. Group savings led to a reinforcement of mutual trust that served the twin purpose of credit without conventional collateral and an inbuilt mechanism to ensure timely repayment through peer monitoring. In the process, an elaborate credit program, with a very high level of repayment performance, had been initiated in most of the cases. As a result of this kind of social mobilization and accumulation process, a significant quantum of community assets has been created cost-effectively. The real income of beneficiaries has gone up and many of them now tend to save at a rate even higher than the national saving rate. The new process of accumulation also ensures higher levels of investment and asset creation by the poor and, in the process, greater equity is assured along with growth.

Once organizations of the poor are built and the new accumulation process begins, there is a need for self-management to sustain the process. Training and sensitization play a crucial role in the new system of self-management of group activities.

SDF believes that a key to social mobilization is to offer the poor a partnership in development through a \"sensitive support\" organization. Such an organization also performs a critical function as an umbrella organization for capacity building. This entails a set of obligations on the part of each partner, and is the hallmark of the support organization. While other agencies and organizations offer a \"soft\" approach and \"inputs\" which further reinforce inertia and dependence, the support organization offers a \"hard\", well coordinated approach, leading to self-development. Under the \"soft\" approach, other agencies undertake activities for the beneficiaries. Under the \"hard\" approach, two steps are involved--firstly, activities are undertaken collectively by the beneficiaries mainly with their own resources; secondly, when the beneficiaries have achieved an appreciable degree of experience and self-reliance, the support organization will start concentrating squarely on furthering capacity building and information networking. The support organization does not undertake activities on behalf of the villagers. It provides an enabling environment and a sensitive support mechanism in which people can work for themselves to improve their own lives.

Poor women have taken very effective advantage of the process of social mobilization. They have demonstrated that a great deal of their dormant energy, when released, could lead to a new power to tackle the double burden of gender and poverty. In the process, they also take care of other social deprivations and as a result, the entire family is benefited.

It was in the confluence of these trends that SDF took off as historically as a national organization committed to supporting participatory self-development initiatives in various underprivileged communities of Lahore and its surrounding areas.

When SDF enter into a participatory process of community mobilization for a self-reliant development, they become aware not only of their resources, but also of the systemic (political, social, historical, economic) factors which maintain and perpetuate their poverty and deprivation.

SDF views \"development\" as essentially a homocentric process. It is man, not his environment that needs to grow and develop. Every new-born child has all the potentialities of what humanity as a whole has so far actualized, achieved in terms of civilization and culture. Given enabling environment, all these potentialities could become kinetic. To interpret development in terms of infrastructure or industrial growth is to limit it merely to economics.

1. Development is economical, psychological and social:
§ dependency
§ lack of self-initiative
§ absence of self-sufficiency
2. Governance: Issues related to democracy and good governance, situational analysis on political and social issues.
3. Social and Development needs, reasons, bottlenecks and alternative solutions of development problems. Tolerance in terms of political & ideological differences for promoting dialogue and discussion. Militarization and sectarianism, exploitation, Gender
4. Conflict resolution at community level -- who is going to resolve these conflicts and how?



Address;
Sanjh Development Foundation
House No.E-84/2 near fahad plaza Mianwali