III. CASE STUDY OF ENVIRONMENTAL REHABILITATION PROJECT IN MALAKAND DIVISION OF NORTH-WEST FRONTIER PROVINCE
M. Sustainable village development
The ERP team is well aware that sustainable village development still has a long way to go in escaping from the "spoon-feeding syndrome" of heavily subsidized schemes, paternalistic Forestry Department employees, unresolved village disputes and the lack of legal backing for VOs. ERP and the Social Forestry Project in Malakand Division have taken several initiatives on forestry-related projects, as detailed above, which are aimed at improving the situation within the limited available resources. The villages need development and many other types of investment, for example, water supplies, schools, roads, Basic Health Units, fruit trees and agricultural inputs such as water channels or irrigation schemes. The implementation of project investments, for example., village development schemes, tree planting and sowing, will increasingly be handed over to VOs As in the case of SRSC and Aga Khan Rural Support Programme, which are also projects related to integrated rural development, ERP stimulates the opening of village bank savings accounts. ERP also pursues a cost-sharing scheme, with 30 per cent being borne by the village, in village development schemes for roads and water channels. The objective is to increase the participation and ability of local communities in planning, managing and investing in their own natural resources. At the same time, ERP acts as a facilitator by informing VDCs about other projects and resources.
One example is the Topsin village road scheme, which was successfully completed through the VDC-ERP partnership. The village is located 5 km from Mingora on the Mingora-Kokarai road. The village comprises five hamlets with a total population of 3,540. The inhabitants of Miangan who own agriculture land also possess shares in hillside land. The second group of the local population comprises Gujars who are either tenants or who have purchased land and hillside areas and are living in the hamlets. Everyone in the village are on good terms with each other. This is essential to ensuring the success of a VDC, and the Miangan VDC works very well. The scheme covered the improvement of the village-forest road which the villagers had constructed earlier, together with a causeway, on a self-help basis. The total length of the road is 5 km, of which 1 km was selected for the improvement project. The road provides a farm-market route for about 200 acres of agriculture land, and it provides access to an ERP-established plantation and a planned afforestation plantation. Miangan VDC received 70 per cent (PRs 224,000) of the cost in three equal instalments, and the remaining 30 per cent was provided partly in the form of free labour and partly in cash by the VDC. Each household contributed between PRs 500 and PRs 1,000. In addition, some villagers contributed agriculture land and demolished various structures. The scheme has had major social and financial impacts on the people of the village and the overall project area. It will also have a positive impact on the strengthening of the VDC, as well as provide new ideas for a participatory approach and its importance in sustainable development.
Other VDC schemes worth mentioning include a drinking water supply scheme in Leganai Buner village, where the women are the main beneficiaries. That type of village organization can also be successful at the village level in a modified form, such as the example of the community interest group in the Siran Project in Mansehera, together with a partnership between the local bodies/government in bringing changes to NWFP which lead to achieving the goal of sustainable development.
In the case of the Siran Forest Development Project and the Manshera Village Support Programme run by the Forestry Department and SRSC, the VDC model was not very successful. The main reason was that it involved very different groups of people such as Syed, Khan and Gujars. All those groups are socio-economically different and they do not want to be intermix with each other. Their interests are also different. Therefore, in such an environment the community interest group concept may work well, rather than the VDC approach of ERP.