Social Mobilization

Social Mobilisation is at the heart of everything we do. The principles and practices of social mobilisation follow a time-honoured tradition established at the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme in the 1980s by the renowned development expert Shoaib Sultan Khan and followed in all of the RSPs across Pakistan. Wherever GBTI works, whether expanding its regular core programme, implementing donor-funded projects, or responding to disasters, the principles and practices of social mobilisation remain the same. These are: establishing mutual trust; understanding that there are mutual rights and responsibilities related to accountability and transparency; observing the principle of benefitting the community at large, rather than individuals, and ensuring that the poorest and most vulnerable people are included in the programming.

We work with rural men and women to release their potential abilities and skills so as to build their knowledge and enable them decide their own development priorities. We also help people to find the resources they need to meet their identified needs. The purpose is to break the cycle of poverty, both economic poverty and ‘poverty of opportunity’. When community members come together for a common purpose – which is ultimately village wide socio-economic development – they are in a stronger position to bring about sustainable improvements in the quality of life.

The first step of our approach to addressing development problems is to organise people into local organisations known as Community Organisations (CO) that are then able to identify and address local issues. We refer to this process as Social Mobilisation. We assume that local people know best about local problems and that, in partnership with GBTI, they have the talents and willingness to plan and implement local development. Mobilised communities work as ‘platforms’ for local development, helping to bring together communities, knowledge and resources. Depending on the local norms the CO members may be all men, all women, or, as happens in some places, ‘mixed’ COs, having both men and women members. Once formed, each CO elects a President and a Manager. The GBTI staff and the CO members identify an Activist – an experienced local person who will take ideas forward – from amongst the CO members. In our support to the Community Organisation we offer capacity building skills and awareness raising sessions to the CO Activists and/or office holders. Additionally, GBTI offers vocational skill training, micro-finance services, physical infrastructure development, and environmental and natural resource management. Awareness of women’s rights, and their right to participate in local development, are integral to GBTI’s work with community members.

Committees to support and supplement COs and VOs: GBTI encourages people to form Committees that assume responsibility for specific aspects of community life. Examples include Village Health Committees, School Management Committees and Sanitation Committees. In communities which have constructed physical infrastructure projects, an operating and maintenance Committee ensures that the structure is properly maintained. In some flood-affected areas people have formed Child Protection Committees. In some projects school children have formed Committees: the Rural Sanitation Project is one example. Wherever these Committees are formed, they play a role in conveying information, encouraging local people to take part in new ways to meet local needs, and support and supplement the work of the COs and VOs.

GBTI’s social mobilisation efforts have contributed to helping people to raise their standard of living, initiate village-wide socio-economic development and realize new opportunities for themselves and their children. People have achieved new levels of awareness about their human rights and civic rights and obligations, and, perhaps most significantly for the long term, have become integrated into local systems of governance and service delivery.

Social mobilisation is a dynamic, responsive process. One of the examples of social mobilisation initiatives is the Livelihood Enhancement and Protection Project designed to enable people who are among the poorest in their communities to establish and develop viable enterprises. The project supports them at every ‘link’ in an entrepreneurial ‘value chain’. Since the project is an effort to put new ideas into practice – i.e. reaching and supporting the very poor and vulnerable by giving them assets, information and training – it requires specialized social mobilisation skills. Many of the intended beneficiaries are not literate, are entering the market for the first time, have little work experience, and/or are working on the margins of the business world for meager returns. Members of these households also learned how to manage their assets and develop business plans. The established and new COs are encouraged to include the poor and people with functional disabilities, if they wish to join. Another key function of the project is to promote the formation of Common Interest Groups by men and women entrepreneurs. Skill trainings for employment opportunities is a significant component of the project. The CIGs are intended to reduce costs, enhance bargaining power and increase the profitability of enterprises.

The Social Mobilisation Projects address the fact that in any social environment, new needs for information and action arise and organisations need support in order to mature and become more effective in response to changing circumstances. To improve the knowledge and awareness of the CO, VO and LSO members, workshops are being held on numerous rights-based issues, such as how to obtain a Computerized National Identity Card, how to register as a voter and how to register births and deaths. Other workshops have been held on women’s right to inheritance, rights in marriage and the need to ensure that marriages result in a registered Nikah Nama. Women’s rights in divorce and the terms of dissolution of marriage are also covered. Community institutions were also engaged to form School Management Committees that would increase primary level enrolment and reduce dropouts through campaigns. Workshops have also been held that teach people how to access social safety net programmes such as Zakat, Baitul Mal and the Benazir Income Support Programme.

The Social Mobilization Process

Introducing GBTI In a New Community. When GBTI Social Organisers go to a new Union Council they engage people in a series of dialogues explaining how to improve the physical and social quality of life. These dialogues help to establish trust in GBTI and the Social Organisers. They also enable potential CO members to identify the socio-economic and infrastructural opportunities available in their communities. Every effort is made to include both men’s and women’s perspectives as the dialogues proceed and to ensure that the poorest community members are included. Once identified, the opportunities are grouped into sector-specific categories (for example, financial services, small scale engineering, health, education and social protection).

We sign a Terms of Partnership agreement with every CO, VO and LSO with which we work. This identifies the rights and responsibilities of the community members and GBTI. It is taken for granted that the poorest and most vulnerable members of the community have the same right as those who are better off to benefit from development activities. This may happen as a result of CO activities or in the course of specific projects focusing on the poorest community members.

Capacity Building for Effective Institutional Management in Communities: GBTI builds the capacities of the members of the COs, VOs and LSOs to establish links to various development programmes and projects that will benefit village residents. These links may be with the Government, local or national donors or local philanthropists. This process establishes the Community Organisation, VO or LSO as a primary vehicle for the delivery of goods and services to the communities and ensures people’s active participation.

The COs, VOs and LSOs are an invaluable resource for the delivery of a variety of services, including:

Surveys, situational analyses, market research, and product introduction and promotion;

Training, awareness raising, dialogues on a variety of issues, feedback, marketing, information, education and communication, thereby increasing community participation in public sector programmes and projects;

  • Conflict resolution and peace building;
  • The construction and maintenance of community managed small infrastructure, the introduction of new technologies, and ‘build, operate and transfer’ projects;
  • Delivery of microfinance services including loans, savings and deposits, insurance, financial services, and product development
  • Responses to disasters such as providing and distributing rescue services, relief goods and services, livelihood-related projects and reconstruction and rehabilitation
  • Facilitating governments for increasing community participation in family planning, health, education, literacy, re-forestation projects, agriculture, and livestock.

The Situation Analysis

The Social Organizers work with community members to complete a ‘Situation Analysis’ which covers matters such as demographic trends, economic data (household income, agricultural and other earnings), employment data, the institutions (schools, hospitals etc.) found in the area, the amount and condition of land, health and education facilities and physical infrastructure and the state of the agricultural economy. The Situation Analysis utilizes primary and secondary sources such as interviews and Census data, and is valuable as a benchmark for entry level planning and for eventual programme expansion. One significant aspect of a Situation Analysis is a Baseline Survey, against which progress can be measured over time. Another is identifying specific, local aspects of poverty.

Identifying Rural Poverty

This has been an evolutionary process at GBTI. Until 2008 we used participatory wealth ranking as the method of identifying five categories of economic status: the destitute, the poor, the very poor, the ‘better off” and the ‘well-to-do’. Using this approach, people who were in the process of forming a new Community Organisation would categorise the residents of their village into one of the four categories. This gave GBTI a good idea of the scale of poverty in the area and enabled us to match interventions with local needs. The Social Organizers then helped the members of the newly-formed CO to draw up micro-investment plans. Established at three levels (household, group and the village) these plans help the CO members to identify their economic needs in concrete terms and to plan ways to improve their economic standing. It is a simple and objective means of identifying households whose members were likely to be poor. Since 2oo8 GBTI has used the 13-question Pakistan Poverty Score Card for this purpose. NRSP was closely involved in testing and finalizing the Scorecard in Pakistan. Using this method each household receives a score (on a scale of 0 to 100) for each question and a cumulative score. The score categories are:

We have used the Scorecard to design relevant programmes for extremely poor community members and to ensure their inclusion in COs, VOs and LSOs. GBTI has utilised the PSC in projects as diverse as: the PPAF-funded Livelihood Enhancement and Protection project, the Livelihood Support and Small Community Infrastructure Project, and GBTI core funded  Program and the Community Livelihoods Fund. GBTI has developed an MIS to analyse the results of the PSC.

Microfinance for Institutional Capacity Building: LSOs Managing Credit

Since 2010 GBTI has been implementing the Community Investment Fund (CIF) in GBTI program are with VOs and LSOs. There are two conditions: 40% of CO members must be women and 50% of the members must come from households identified as poor through the Poverty Scorecard.

The CIF can be used for any productive purpose for the benefit of the entire community. This may include: physical infrastructure, health, education, or training that will benefit a significant number of people. The CIF cannot be used for micro credit or for social events such as weddings. The VO or LSO office holders are first trained in CIF Management. The VO or LSO is provided with a credit database and trained in utilizing it. This training equips the organisation to manage its credit disbursement and recovery and ensures that clients and loans are tracked, thus reducing the potential for information errors. Over 2018, Rs.7.1 million was provided to LSOs for loan disbursement.

‘Second Generation’ Social Mobilization led by Community Activists and Community Resource Persons: Community-Based Social Organizers

The LSOs utilize the services of both men and women leaders from the COs, VOs and LSO as Community Resource Persons: they function as local Social Organizers. They receive a small stipend for their services. Depending on the needs and on their expertise the CRPs may be involved in forming COs, engaging in community livestock interventions and serving as ‘master trainers’ to teach women tailoring and embroidery skills. Some CRPs with the relevant skills provide services a Traditional Birth Attendants and as service providers for health and hygiene. The CRPs have been given specific targets to form new COs, provide assistance to extremely poor households and reactivate dormant COs and VOs. GBTI has provided the CRPs with the necessary technical assistance and financial support to enable them to interact with LSOs and establish partnerships with Government and private institutions.