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The Community Action Process in Kalat

Executive Summary

Child Survival and Development through the Community Action Process was implemented in Kalat District in the Balochistan Province of Pakistan in 2004. This is a low investment model for development from within: it provides community members with the tools to analyse a situation and identify appropriate solutions and helps integrate and focus services for greatest effect. The Community Action Process has been successful in empowering communities and increasing awareness of, and demand for, services that improve child survival. UNICEF supported the implementation of the process at a cost of under US$ 300,000 between 2004 and 2007, in association with the local government, the NGO-Network (a Kalatbased coordinating body) and local NGO partners. Community members are key and instrumental stakeholders in the strategy.

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 Community Action Process improves links between communities and the local government by training community members in presentation techniques. It creates local-level committees to liaise between community members and local government officials and facilitate the process of getting funding for development projects.

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
and rectify problems. To date 12,000 households have been mapped, providing vital data for good governance.

Less tangible but equally important successes include community mobilisation and empowerment:

  • Members coordinated fundraising for earthquake and flood affectees and, after Cyclone Yemyin, created an information clearinghouse to help coordinate relief efforts through Group Facilitators in affected areas.
  • Networks and integrated approaches towards common goals were created between communities, NGOs, government and other groups.
  • Community centres provide a space where men, women and children alike can meet and discuss community matters in an unthreatening and neutral environment.
  • Channels to government were created and people developed tools to use them.
  • Where previously women did not enter places of business, now women Group Facilitators attend meetings and trainings as far away as Quetta. Women report gaining confidence and the ability to present their cases.
  • Girls' education is more accepted and promoted by men of the community. Educated young women have gone on to join other organisations and even entered local government.
  • Trained women and men are a valuable human resource for other initiatives, both as volunteers and fulltime employees.

Within Kalat District, the project may be expanded by:

  • Funding for proactive expansion to remoter areas in the district.
  • Pooling resources and creating linkages with other projects in the district and creating a library of successful initiatives within the Community Action Process.
  • Training new Master Trainers regularly to accommodate demand, update messages and provide new tools.
  • Incorporating nomadic people.

Lessons learned through the Community Action Process include:

  • Emphasising development from within helps persuade resistant communities as they are given ownership of activities.
  • Children's well-being is a major concern amongst communities and may reduce resistance to, for example, women's participation.
  • Empowering communities empowers women. As men joined the Community Action Process, they encouraged their female relatives to take part.
  • The cooperation of religious and community leaders and local government is essential both for entry and acceptance and for service delivery. This suggests that it is not a purely bottom-up endeavour.

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.

Read the full report:
The Community Action Process in Kalat (pdf 1.13 MB)





Kalat District


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