III. CASE STUDY OF ENVIRONMENTAL REHABILITATION PROJECT IN MALAKAND DIVISION OF NORTH-WEST FRONTIER PROVINCE
N. Lessons drawn from the environmental rehabilitation project
ERP is a success story. One of the main factors behind that success is that the project adopted the innovative approach of people's participation and their involvement in the implementation of village development schemes. The villagers contributed 30 per cent of the project costs in the form of cash and labour, and were also given the contract for implementing the project. Everyone involved had the right to check the quality of the work. That approach, which was different from the traditional approach to development with its high level of dependency on State intervention, ensured that the quality of the construction work was satisfactory. With the traditional approach, the beneficiaries do not feel responsible for the development work and always look to the State for benefits. The State often granted favours under the traditional approach which were distributed inequitably and did not involve the "trickle down" effect to the poor. The local bodies which were established during the military regime in the 1980s were not allowed by subsequently elected governments to undertake their work properly. Instead of introducing legislation or making existing legislation more effective, legislators became involved in development and took over the functions of the local institutions, which led to growing corruption and other adverse impacts. The large-scale deforestation which has occurred in Malakand and Hazara over the past decade, partly through forestry cooperatives, is one example (Pakistan Administrative Staff College, 1994).
The innovative approach taking by ERP, which involves people's participation in the process of development at all levels, has proved successful. VDCs have shown themselves to be a very important and useful part of the ERP approach to sustainable development. Therefore, efforts should be made elsewhere in the country to replicate the VDC concept, not only in forestry-related projects but in all types of development projects.
Another advantage of ERP is the availability of highly skilled, educated, well trained and committed project officials who are able to network with other government line departments for the betterment of the villages. They visit the field at regular intervals and talk to the local population. It is because of their efforts that some VDC have been willing to contribute up to 50 per cent of project costs. When dealing with government line departments, VDCs have shown minimal interest in contributing even 30 per cent of the project implementation costs. That is a clear indication that the government departments are failing to attract the confidence of the rural population in development planning; without that confidence, achieving the objective of sustainable development will prove extremely difficult.
The nature of each community is another contributing factor to the level of success that is achieved. In areas where local-level communities are more cohesive, participation in self-help projects has been more successful. In cases where the communities are not very cohesive the VDC concept may not work. Therefore, it will be essential for ERP to arrange regular meetings and visits to encourage VDCs to work effectively and maintain interest, in order to ensure sustainability and continuity. In certain areas covered by ERP the relationship between the Pukhtoons and other indigenous people, the Gujars, is not harmonious. The Pukhtoons are not willing to allow the Gujars to become VDC members. ERP has been dealing with the problem very carefully so that the interests of the different groups of people are now appear to be developing well. A positive outcome to that aspect would certainly make ERP more effective, thus in turn making its efforts at sustainable development more likely to fully succeed.