The Community Action Process in Kalat
Kalat District is an arid mountainous region with poor infrastructure and development indicators and low population density. Three 'clusters' were identified in which activities were concentrated: Kalat Sadr, Surab Sadr and the rural Mangocher cluster. Kalat is a predominantly tribal and socially conservative region. When the project began, female participation in decision-making was minimal and there was little or no community participation or ownership of development.
The Community Action Process provides an integrated approach to child welfare which tackles these issues directly. Its foundational principle is that sustainable development is based on the capacity of individuals and communities to take responsibility for their own development to fulfil the project’s vision of child survival and development. Accordingly, it emphasises capacity building, and is not prescriptive, but facilitative. The process began with Master Trainers from Kalat being trained by UNICEF consultants. They, in turn, trained community members as Group Facilitators who then formed single-gender groups of community members to discuss and develop solutions to child survival and development using the Triple-A Cycle. This is a continuous process which entails assessing a situation, analysing the causes, taking appropriate action and reassessing the situation. Since solutions are developed from within communities, they are sensitive to local ways and needs.
The NGO-Network coordinates the activities of local NGO partners. It works with the local government and facilitates cooperation and joint activities. Local NGOs are responsible for coordinating and facilitating community groups, mobilising volunteers, holding awareness activities and supporting community and local government initiatives towards child survival. Thus the process integrates and channels existing services and new initiatives for maximum effectiveness.
The project began in four villages in each of three clusters. By late 2007, there were 210 active groups with trained Group Facilitators in 99 villages, covering a fifth of the district's population. Of these, 49 villages had achieved 100 per cent birth registration, latrine construction, vaccination and use of iodised salt. Many villages entered the Community Action Process of their own initiative. They asked for training after seeing the benefits in neighbouring villages. Community centres were established in three villages to provide a space for community activities. Three more are under construction.
The project seeks to achieve its vision of children's health and good nutrition by emphasising personal health, hygiene and nutrition and appropriate breastfeeding. Communities have worked with government vaccination campaigns by spreading awareness and encouraging parents to take their children to vaccinators.
The iodised salt campaign has been a major success and is an example of the efficacy of the Triple-A Cycle. Reasons for low usage were judged to be lack of awareness, low availability and the high cost of available iodised salt. Awareness activities and recruiting religious leaders to dispel common myths helped create demand. A local trader was facilitated in processing and distributing an inexpensive brand of iodised salt and shopkeepers and traders throughout the project's areas were persuaded to stock this brand. Household consumption of iodised salt went from under 5 per cent to over 70 per cent in Kalat Sadr and Surab Sadr and from nil to nearly 25 per cent in Mangocher cluster. Availability rose from 3 percent in the main bazaars to 84 per cent.
To achieve its vision of hygienic behaviour, the project facilitated the construction of improved latrines while local NGOs provided financing and technical know-how, leading to 300 latrines built directly through the project and many more by independent community initiatives. Communities lobbied the government for, or took their own initiative in constructing cemented drains, clearing public spaces and making playgrounds.
Under the project's vision, quality education, especially primary education for girls, is a priority. Parents were encouraged to ensure their children attended school regularly, and girls' schools were renovated and provided with latrines. Community elders were mobilised to help ensure girls attended school.
Birth registration required a similar mix of awareness and action. Awareness at the community level was supplemented by making the process of birth registration cheaper and easier, resulting in over 34,000 births registered.
Though the Community Action Process is inherently an awareness strategy, its flexibility and expandability and its basis in trusting people's ability to identify their own needs means that it can easily be integrated with service delivery. Since all Group Facilitators are volunteers, the strategy creates an environment of self-help and social activism. They are also trained in data collection at the household level. Settlements are mapped with information relevant to the project's focuses and which communities can use to identify
Within Kalat District, the project may be expanded by:
Lessons learned through the Community Action Process include:
The Community Action Process in Kalat District is a successful and low-cost model for development. Because of its emphasis on community action, it can be replicated elsewhere and adapted to local conditions and customs. For it to achieve its potential, it is imperative that awareness be backed up with prompt and effective service delivery.
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