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Local Support Organizations: Scaling up Grassroots Development
By: SDPI

Year: August, 2009

Introduction:

The Rural Support Program Network (RSPN) is presently steering the process of social mobilization towards institutional sustainability, by both indigenizing and consolidating the process. As their activities extend across Pakistan, and new community organizations (CO) are formed, the RSPs need to disengage with existing COs in order to engage with new ones. Clearly, the RSPs have neither the funds nor the capacity to manage and sustain an ever-expanding support program. At the same time, they need to ensure that the institutional support for existing COs does not unravel with diminishing external funding sources. Accordingly, the RSPs have begun to form apex organizations at the village and the union council levels. As these organizations mature, they also begin to form COs, complementing the work of the RSPs. These local support organizations (LSO) go beyond merely substituting for the RSPs; they represent an indigenization of the social mobilization and organization process, ensuring a permanent support system which is both locally owned, self reliant and capable of formulating context-specific development programs.

The main objectives of the LSO are:

  • to provide a localized permanent support system to foster and nurture the grass roots organizations of COs and VDOs
  • to scale up social mobilization locally through low cost measures
  • to provide an institutional facility to promote development linkages between service agencies in government, NGO and private sector and the communities

The purpose of the research is to assess the Institutional sustainability of the established LSOs, which number 202 so far. Of these 18 were sampled for the assessment, the selection being done according to various criteria. The sustainability criteria are defined as:

  • The effectiveness of vertical linkages (from COs, to VDOs, to LSOs) for service delivery measured by derived (induced) benefits (see below)
  • The autonomous (spontaneous) collective action and associated benefits produced for the communities through these vertical linkages
  • The cross-sector development linkages and associated benefits facilitated by the VDOs and LSOs (with line departments, UCs, NGOs, donors, private sector)
  • Are LSOs disengaging with the RSPs and become self-sustaining
  • How effectively are LSOs working with local government to derive benefits for the communities?
  • How have LSOs impacted the operational cost of RSP operation? Have these been reduced and by how much?
  • Do the LSOs have adequate procedures and systems in place to function effectively

For More Information, Contact the Following Person:


Mahmood A. Khwaja