II. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPLICATIONS OF UNSUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
F. Non-governmental organizationsIn Pakistan, NGOs are a relatively new phenomenon. The term is usually applied to organizations engaged in social uplift activities of some sort, and especially the provision of services traditionally considered to be a part of the government's preserve. NGOs have asserted themselves as a third party in the traditional relationship between the State and civilian society, where the latter is represented by political parties. The growing recognition of the effectiveness of NGOs in micro-level development has enabled them over the years to advocate an alternative development strategy. Korten (1989) distinguishes between four generations of NGOs which have been involved in:
NGOs can provide an important supplement to the public sector at low cost, extend the outreach of government services and amplify the coverage of, for example, agricultural extension services. SRSC and the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme are good examples in that regard. NGOs have collaborated with the government in preparing the NCS, collected and provided micro-level information to the government and multilateral agencies, and entered into negotiations with the government and with NGOs of the developed countries over the issues that divide North and South. Therefore NGOs are becoming an important force which the government must take into full account.
NWFP is characterized by tribal and feudal norms and traditions. Before British rule and independence, self-help and mutual cooperation were the only ways to endure life in an area with tough physical environmental conditions and little means of communication. Land and other natural resources were the only means of subsistence, complemented with modest internal and external trade. The people had to cooperate in digging irrigation channels and logging the forests. Social life was also centred around the community rather then the individual. Weddings, funerals and other festivals were occasions when the entire community pooled its resources in participation. Agricultural and forestry were also community activities, irrespective of ownership status. The management of common resources was also undertaken by the community itself. Even dealing with cases where rules were violated was a community effort; for example, in Chitral a man caught felling a tree without prior permission would have been punished by having to sacrifice a goat or other animal which would be eaten by the rest of the village. It was only with the occupation of the subcontinent by the British in the eighteenth century that led to the government assuming a paternalistic role, resulting in increased dependency on the State.
That situation continued after the creation of Pakistan in 1947. Bureaucratic control over public funds for development made them vulnerable to abuse and caused an inequitable distribution of benefits. Together with political instability and fragmented policies, the situation resulted in the erosion of public trust in State mechanisms and increasing corruption. The quality of life and the provision of basic services to the general public remained questionable. Consequently, there was a renewed interest in self-help initiatives in sustainable development with the help of NGOs, community-based organizations (CBOs), village organizations (VOs) and other private sector organizations.
Joint communal work is now taking on new shapes as a result of the influence of external factors. The motivation of receiving funds from the donors and aid-giving agencies is an important factor for in the formation of NGOs/CBOs for community work. Those NGOs and societies have to register under a variety of laws such as: the Companies Ordinance, 1984, section 42; the Society Registration Act, 1860; the Voluntary Social Welfare Agencies Act, 1961; the Trust Act, 1882; and the Charitable Endowment Act, 1890; the Provincial Water Users Association Ordinance and Cooperative Societies Act, 1925 (Provincial National Conservation Strategy, 1991). The registration of NGOs, CBOs and VOs under any of the above laws is done at the provincial level.
Community participation in NWFP began in the 1980s when forestry and integrated development projects helped to organize village groups that would play a role in meeting project development goals. At present, in NWFP several such programmes and projects exist which are operating through community organizations, either by helping to create new projects or reactivate existing ones. The CBOs and VOs are playing a significant role in the successful implementation of those programmes and projects. NGOs formed in 1990s also work with CBOs and VOs, and play an important role in their respective fields. They are catalysts for change and are a source of empowerment for the local communities. They are very effective in advocacy, awareness raising and the highlighting of human rights issues. In addition, they sometimes act as a check on ill-conceived government policies. The most important international, national and local NGOs working in NWFP include:.
NGOs are not yet fully mature and suffer from a lack of clarity in their
mission and objectives, which leads to them working in too many different
fields. Some also experience difficulties in getting donor support. In
NWFP the NGOs are predominantly donor-dependent, and most of them lack
experienced and skilled managers mainly because of a lack of funds. Therefore,
a strategy is needed to outline the ways and means through which the NGOs
and CBOs/VOs can play their part in the sustainable development of the
province. The strategy will become an integral part of SPCS and hence will
provide a platform for the NGOs, CBOs and VOs to become a part of the overall
development process in NWFP. To date, the Social Welfare Department is
the only government department providing support to NGOs, mostly in the
form of small grants. The limited funds, bureaucratic procedures and lack
of institutional capacity at the field level has rendered the service by
the Department virtually ineffective. Even if it worked, it would naturally
focus on social welfare problems with little or no attention being paid
to environmental and development issues. SPCS has co-facilitated the development
of an alliance among NGOs in NWFP, called the Sarhad NGOs Ittehad, which
is an important step toward NGO networking. SPCS envisages support for
its replication at the local level. That will increase their role in networking
and public decision-making.