Social Mobilisation is a process whereby people are organised in order to enable them to collectively think and act upon their development. In the Rural Support Programmes (RSPs), Social Mobilisation consists of the organising of communities in rural and peri-urban areas into three tiers. At the first tier, these communities are organised into Community Organisations (COs) which are organisations at the neighbourhood or Mohallah level.
These COs consist of membership from 15 households on average. COs ordinarily carry out activities such as household level development planning, trainings, savings and credit. At the second tier, the COs federate at the village level into a Village Organisation (VO).
Membership of the VO normally consists of two nominated members from each CO in the village. The activities of the VO are to work on development activities which run across the village such as community infrastructure, partnerships with local government and other agencies, and on issues which affect the entire village. At the third tier, VOs federate at the Union Council level to form a Local Support Organisation (LSO). This apex organisation consists of membership from the VOs in the entire Union Council. This institution of the people is responsible for coordinating with its membership base to construct a development agenda for its members. It is also responsible for networking and developing linkages with external organisations such as local government, donors, NGOs and the private sector for the purpose of achieving its development agenda. In addition to this, in several areas these organised communities have started to federate even further into LSO Networks at the District level; such as in Chitral and Ghizer. As of August 2011, a total of 14 LSO Networks have been established.
- The benefit of having such institutions of the people is manifold, such as:
- Inclusion of the poorest into the development process
- Inclusion of women into the development process
- Greater unity and social cohesion
- Increase in social capital
- Creation of sustainable rather than project-based organisations
- Grassroots-driven development agenda, compared to donor-driven agendas
- Local capacities being built in management, problem identification and solving, and financial literacy
- Increase in local resource mobilisation through savings, membership fees and local donations, in addition to resources being generated through external organisations
- Ability of the poorest to develop linkages with external stakeholders in order for their collective voices to be heard
The RSPs have thus far achieved a presence in 108 of the 138 districts in Pakistan and in 2 of the 13 FATA Agencies and Frontier Regions. Within these districts, the RSPs have mobilised over 4.16 million rural households in the form of nearly 258,403 COs and over 520 LSOs.
RSPN’s role in this epic mobilisation of the grassroots has been critical. RSPN provides technical support to its partner RSPs, in order to build the capacities of its staff so that they may work effectively in collaboration with communities. To this end, RSPN has organised several trainings and Training of Trainers for the staff of the RSPs.
RSPN has also taken initiatives in ensuring the institutional strengthening of the LSOs and its member organisations by ensuring that a level of quality is maintained. For this purpose, RSPN has developed manuals for both the RSPs’ staff and for community members. In addition to this, RSPN also routinely monitors the social mobilisation efforts of the RSPs by frequenting LSOs across the country to provide them with constructive criticism and recommendations.
To add to their capacities, RSPN also arranges exposure visits for RSPs’ staff members and community members to best-practices of Social Mobilisation.
Another role of RSPN, as a network organisation is to introduce new innovations and initiatives in the field of Social Mobilisation and development in general. These innovations are piloted by RSPN in collaboration with its partners and then monitored and documented so that its results and lessons can be shared within the network and with external stakeholders.
Lastly, RSPN also ensures that the efforts and initiatives of its partners are well documented and shared with relevant stakeholders in the government, donor-agencies and other organisations. These are done through a variety of means such as in the form of case studies, baseline surveys, reports and research studies