About 86 per cent of the people living in Sunamganj District participate in the nine-year IFAD-supported project – landless, marginal and landholding households with less than 2.5 acres of land. The high incidence of poverty is attributed in part to low cropping intensity, since the area remains under water for about five to six months during the year. Undeveloped roads also contribute to the poverty of the area.
The infrastructure component of the Sunamganj Community-Based Resource Management Project focuses on building village roads to connect communities with the main road network. At the same time, the component has two special features to more specifically address the problem of poverty and flooding, as well as sustainability.
First, the project builds roads that are made of concrete rather than bitumen. Concrete can withstand flooding. It is now supporting the construction of two types of reinforced concrete roads – 2.6 metres and 2 metres wide – which permit smaller vehicles to transport produce but prevent heavier vehicles that can destroy the roads from using them. By being submersible, these roads do not require high embankments. This reduces cost, removes the need to acquire more land for embankments, and does not disrupt the natural flow of flood waters (disruption of flood waters can create local drainage problems and result in embankments being washed out).
Second, the project supports the participation of local communities in the work. Although the roads are built by local contractors, the community is involved in planning the programme of work, monitoring the construction and ensuring maintenance. The work is organized through the Infrastructure Management Committee (IMC), whose seven to nine members come from community organizations established by the project. At least two of the members are women.
Two members of the IMC supervise construction activities and ensure the quality of work. In cases of irregularity, they first notify the LGED field supervisor. If the problem continues, they contact the project. IMCs have raised many issues that were resolved immediately. On four occasions IMCs had to temporarily stop the work because of major irregularities. Consequently, they succeeded in making contractors work according to the terms of their contracts.
Last year the project introduced another innovation. Instead of employing contractors to build roads using reinforced concrete, the project employed its community groups known as Labour Contracting Societies (LCSs) to undertake construction of roads made of concrete blocks (see photo). Omitting reinforced concrete saves the cost of expensive steel. (Lateral reinforcing bars can be added later in places where there is evidence of subsidence.) Many local women make the concrete blocks.
Communities are pleased with the roads and give significant credit to the project’s community organizations involved in building them. The roads have linked fields and fishing areas to homesteads, and homesteads to markets, schools and clinics. To date, the project has built 69 roads amounting to 93.5 km and connecting 148 villages in six upazilas.
Roads to prosperity for the villages in Garo Hills in Meghalaya, India
For generations, five villages in West Garo Hills of the Meghalaya State of India were deprived because they were inaccessible. Lack of roads prevented people living in these villages from marketing their produce, unless they walked long distances to reach markets, and they were dependent on subsistence agriculture for their survival. The IFAD-supported North Eastern Region Community Resource Management Project for Upland Areas (1999-2008) alleviated their isolation by supporting the construction of roads.
Before the North Eastern Region Community Resource Management Project for Upland Areas started in 1999, Sasatgre, Durabanda, Ronkugre, Dubagre and Dura A·sim were remote villages. The main occupation of the people living in these villages is agriculture, with a predominant use of shifting cultivation. The main source of income comes from growing areca nut, an important commercial plant that yields a nut which is rolled in betel-leaves and chewed. Areca nut grown in this area is considered to be the best in North East India. Villagers also cultivate vegetables such as maize, millets, chillies and pumpkin.
For years, villagers had to walk up to 15 kilometres over the hills to carry their produce to the main road to sell it. It would take them four to five hours to reach the first point where they were able to sell their produce, and at a very low price. The IFAD-supported project funded a 9-kilometre road that linked all five villages with the main road, changing the lives of 257 families. Greater accessibility enhanced their economic conditions and improved the quality of life. The new road encouraged villagers to scale up their production of agri-horticulture products, as they can now easily reach markets and get better economic returns. This has changed the attitude of the people, as they are now motivated to work harder and are also beginning to pay greater attention to their children’s education and general health care.
“Everyone in the village has benefited immensely from the roads. Now pick-up vehicles and jeeps can come to our village. We don’t have to carry our produce on our heads. The businessman comes to us and purchase our produces and we get a good price for our yields”, said Starson Sangma, Secretary of a Natural Resource Management Group.
According to Romonsing Rangsa Marak, Secretary of Dura A·sim village, every productive adult in the village participated in the construction of the road, with the project paying them for part of their labour. “We worked as labourers and we are managing the roads,” said Marak.
Unfortunately, the new roads are made of kutcha, unpaved and untarred roads that require regular maintenance as heavy rains wash parts of them away. Nevertheless, the villagers maintain the kutcha roads because they consider them their own creation, property and asset. ”If the road was made of pucca [paved and tarred], life would become even more easy,” said Marak. Nevertheless, heavy rain does not stop people’s business activities. The pick-up Jeeps and other 4 X 4 vehicles come to villages and business goes on.
The villagers are now scaling up their current income-generating activities and also quickly taking up other ones. Thanks to the new roads, they are now able to sell their products in greater volumes, and thereby earn more. Without the roads, it would have been impossible for the communities to transport their products in such volume; they would have continued to be confined to low-level production and the resulting poverty.
Ankita Handoo, Knowledge Management Specialist, IFAD Field Presence Office, India
Read more about:
Back to top
Improved community infrastructure transforms village life in Attapeu, Lao PDR
The IFAD-supported Rural Livelihoods Improvement Programme in Attapeu is being implemented in three districts of Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR): Phuvong, Saysettha and Xansai. The districts are amongst the poorest in the country, and the programme is working with 93 of the 113 villages in the three districts. Poor infrastructure is one of the causes of extreme poverty, and the programme is helping communities and the government build community infrastructure in order to improve people’s livelihoods and living standards.
The programme was launched in June 2006 and has already made significant progress developing a variety of local infrastructures.
The programme helped build five primary schools and repair six old schools. A total of 450 students are enrolled in the new schools and about 300 continue to attend the rehabilitated schools. Total enrolment has increased by almost 20 per cent. The schools targeted by the programme are being managed by the parent association in the villages where the schools are located.
Before the programme started, people had to travel a long distance to access primary health care. The programme supported the construction of three dispensaries during its first year of implementation. As a result, 1,082 families (5,702 people) now have access to health services. The government provided the dispensaries with a drug revolving fund to purchase medicines. This year, the programme plans to construct three more dispensaries – one in each district.
Before IFAD’s intervention, people in Attapeu used to drink water from the streams and shallow wells, which often resulted in health problems such as diarrhoea. Women also had to travel long distances to fetch water. The programme has constructed 66 hand pumps in 22 villages. As a result, the incidence of waterborne diseases has decreased (for example, incidence of diarrhoea has decreased by 50 per cent). Women can save one to three hours per day by having hand pumps in their vicinity. In many villages supported by the project, villagers use hand pumps to raise catfish in small plastic-lined ponds. They also use water from these ponds to irrigate their kitchen gardens.
The programme helped construct 513 family toilets in ten villages of Phouvong and Saysettha districts. It provided families with toilet sheets, pipes and iron angles. The families receiving the toilets provided local material, such as sand and concrete, and labour for their construction. The Department of Health provided technical support and supervised the installation. The new toilets were built for individual households and are located near houses. The project also trained their owners on toilet usage, sanitation and hygiene. Water from hand pumps is used for flushing.
Before 2006, the only form of transportation for people living in many of the villages was on foot or by bicycle. The programme has supported the construction of almost 70 kilometres of roads (four roads to date) that link villages within a district. The government has financed the construction of a 4-kilometre road in order to connect two districts. In addition, IFAD collaborates with the World Food Programme (WFP), which provides food-for-work assistance to the people involved in constructing roads. Through this assistance,
villagers have constructed 4 kilometres of road and another 29 kilometres are under construction.
The programme helped build four community markets in Hadsan, Makkheua, Tadseng and Viengxay villages and an urban market in Phouvong District. Programme participants provided 60 per cent of the total cost of the construction in the form of wood, sand, stones and labour.
- Soulichanh Phonekeo, Provincial Programme Director, Rural Livelihoods Improvement Programme in Attapeu Province
- Dr. Kulwant Singh, Programme Management Advisor and Technical Assistance Team Leader, Rural Livelihoods Improvement Programme in Attapeu Province
- Mr. Phetvilay Meuangduang, Social Development Advisor, Rural Livelihoods Improvement Programme in Attapeu Province
Read more about:
Back to top
Revitalizing the livelihoods of earthquake-affected people in Pakistan through house reconstruction
The Restoration of Earthquake Affected Communities and Households (REACH) is a project initiated with the financial support of IFAD. The project is a response to the earthquake that struck Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) on 8 October 2005, causing enormous loss of life and damage to physical infrastructure. The project focuses on the restoration of livelihoods affected by the earthquake. The key components include reconstruction of houses, rehabilitation of critical community infrastructure and replacing livestock.
The earthquake that struck in AJK and NWFP on 8 October 2005 left more than 80,000 people dead, half a million homeless, and countless without livelihoods. The Government of Pakistan, international and national donors, civil society organizations, volunteers and philanthropists intervened in every possible manner to convert this disaster into an opportunity to lead a better life through: improved living conditions such as seismically safe houses and physical infrastructure; and increased access to education, health and sanitation, training and improved technologies.
IFAD approved US$26.4 million for the Restoration of Earthquake Affected Communities and Households (REACH) project. The financing from IFAD supplemented the Earthquake Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Project (E3RP), funded by the World Bank and launched on 31 January 2006. The Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) was selected as an implementing partner for the project.
The project’s mandate was to carry out a detailed damage assessment of 120,000 houses and provide financial and technical support to homeowners in housing reconstruction. The reconstruction had to be in line with the guidelines laid down by the government for seismically safe construction of rural houses in earthquake-affected areas. Initiating the project was not a simple task because of the difficult terrain, harsh weather conditions and massive opposition by political and religious elements
In spite of these challenges, PPAF along with its partner organizations initiated the project at a very early stage and managed to carry out the detailed damage assessment of 120,000 houses before August 2006. To date, the project has disbursed more than US$175 million to eligible beneficiaries for housing reconstruction.
Local training and mobilization
The ultimate goal of rebuilding the earthquake-resistant houses would have been unachievable without providing training to homeowners on reconstruction techniques used to make a house earthquake-resistant. A total of 77,084 house owners participated in a comprehensive training programme carried out at village/hamlet level. In addition, 25,785 craftsmen from the community were trained in earthquake-resistant contraction techniques. This cadre of skilled workers not only tackled the issue of labour shortage but also supported the trained workers in generating their income.
Under the social mobilization component, the project organized 90,145 community members in 3,181 community organizations at the village level. These organizations played a vital role in purchasing material and disseminating technical information, resulting in high-quality earthquake-resistant construction.
Monitoring and management information system
The project established a comprehensive monitoring and management information system at the outset. The system significantly increased the efficiency and effectiveness of the project, enabling the physical progress of the housing construction to be monitored, as well as other key factors such as design adherence, quality assurance and disbursement progress. The project also ensured the weekly flow of information from the field by developing a comprehensive reporting system that enabled the PPAF to monitor the pace and quality of project interventions. These systems enabled knowledge, information and experience to be shared among various stakeholders on regular basis, and cost-effective and sustainable solutions to be identified.
It is anticipated that the project will be successfully completed by June 2008 without compromising the quality of project interventions. The timely financial and technical support from IFAD enabled the earthquake-affected communities to revitalize their lives and livelihoods in a short time span of 2.5 years.
Najaf Khan, Coordinator, Restoration or Earthquake Affected Communities and Households, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, Pakistan
Read more about:
Multi-stakeholder approach – the key to successful infrastructure development initiatives in the Philippines
The multi-stakeholder approach in the establishment, operation and maintenance of infrastructure projects is one of the innovations introduced by the Northern Mindanao Community Initiatives and Resource Management Project supported by IFAD and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). The approach involves the participation of community members, institutions of the poorest of the poor, non-government organizations (NGOs), local government units (LGU) and national line agencies in the identification, prioritization, planning, implementation and management of critical rural and community infrastructure.
An innovative feature of the multi-stakeholder approach is the contribution of both labour and financing for infrastructure projects. In most cases, community contributions come in the form of labour, while the LGUs and the project share the cost of materials. The project also covers operating costs for the LGUs during the implementation of the infrastructure sub-projects and other supported sub-projects in the community such as the Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF). NGOs contribute their expertise in community mobilization, and conduct trainings and other activities to build the capacity of community institutions.
The major gains achieved through the multi-stakeholder approach are improvements in access of poor families to basic services such as health and sanitation, education and markets. The construction of health centres, school buildings, potable water systems and production centres have benefited poor families. There is need no more need for them to travel to nearby barangays (villages) or municipalities to have regular health check-ups. Children no longer have to walk long distances in the mornings and afternoons to attend school in nearby barangays. Women and children no longer have to travel long distances to fetch water.
The infrastructure sub-projects supported by IFAD have contributed to an increase in farm productivity and cropping cycles. For example, the irrigation sub-projects have increased the production of palay, since irrigations systems allow two croppings per year, as opposed to one cropping per year in rain-fed areas.
The participatory nature of the multi-stakeholder approach has also contributed to a change in behaviour of participating stakeholders. In particular, as a result of the participation of the community members in the planning and implementation stages of the infrastructure sub-projects:
- the sense of community ownership of initiatives has increased
- sub-projects are maintained with more commitment and efficiency
- LGUs developed a higher level of sensitivity in addressing the needs of participating communities.
Potable water system (PWS) in Sangay
PWS is a system in which water is stored in a common reservoir and distributed through pipes to common faucets to a cluster of five to ten households. One such system was constructed in Barangay Sangay, Municipality of Kitcharao, Province of Agusan del Norte, with the assistance of the project and the LGU of Kitcharao.
The system was completed and handed over to the community in April 2005, after which the barangay was responsible for its operation and maintenance. The Municipal Project Office (MPO) of LGU Kitcharao created the Sangay Water System Association (SAWASA) to operate and manage the system. In turn, SAWASA formed an operation and maintenance committee composed of six volunteers.
A regular barangay assembly is held every month. The committee presents and discusses issues related to the operation and maintenance of the system. Based on the results of the discussions, the barangay council formulates policies that are promulgated at the assembly.
During the settlement of disputes related to the operation of the system, SAWASA officers seek the assistance of the MPO personnel. Disputes occur most frequently among non-members such as political leaders, government employees and influential families.
“Children can now sleep clean and tidy. Mothers have more time spent at homes and participate more in community activities since they spend less time in fetching water and doing laundry with a tap stand nearby,” said Eusebia Con-con, a resident of Barangay Sangay.
The multi-stakeholder approach has demonstrated that development initiatives such as rural infrastructure projects can be implemented more successfully and become sustainable.
- Vherna Castilla, Information Analyst, Northern Mindanao Community Initiatives and Resource Management Project
- Edgar Soriano, Monitoring and Evaluation Support Officer, Northern Mindanao Community Initiatives and Resource Management Project
- Ailyn Luyong, Sub-Project Analyst, Northern Mindanao Community Initiatives and Resource Management Project
Read more about: