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Process Evaluation and Impact Assessment of Sindh Rural Support Organization’s (SRSO) Union Council Based Poverty Reduction Program (UCBPRP)
By: SDPI

Year:June 2010

Locale: Shikarpur, Kashmore-Kanhdkot and Jacobabad

Introduction:   

The primary focus of the study was to evaluate the overall process and procedures of the programme to assess its design, efficiency and sustainability. In 2010, SDPI carried out impact assessment study and Process Review for the Sindh Rural Support Organization (SRSO).

Process review:

The process review covers three districts such as Shikarpur, Kashmore-Kanhdkot and Jacobabad. The purpose of the assessment is to find out if the operations of Union Council Based Poverty Reduction Program (UCBPRP) are in line with the SOPs designed by SRSO. SRSO has been very successful in Sindh and under the UCBPRP, SRSO has conducted the ‘Poverty Score Card’ survey in 106 union councils in three districts and has so far surveyed 512,732 households. Out of these, 267,554 households have been organized in to 15,360 Community Organizations (COs), coming together in 5,294 Village Organizations (VOs). At the union council level, these VOs are amalgamated into Local Support Organizations (LSOs) and currently 27 of these exist. 64 members of LSOs have been trained in management so far while 39,226 CO members and 32,443 VO members have also been trained. About 90% of all households covered in the process review have been organized into COs and VOs. Poverty Score Card (PSC) for all households in the coverage area was collected. This result was then compared with the poverty scores provided to the SDPI team by SRSO’s Project Implementation Unit (PIU). Poverty scores available with the PIU were those that had been collected in 2009 when the UCBPRP was launched. According to SRSO officials, these records are updated for each household if and when the SRSO officers realize that there is a need to do so.

In order to ascertain the poverty levels of targeted populations, SRSO has employed the ‘Poverty Score Card’ (PSC). As of December 2011, this score card has been filled for 116 union councils in Shikarpur, Kashmore-Kandhkot and Jacobabad. It must also be mentioned here that due to interruption in operations due to floods last year, the UCBPRP was extended for another year. Poverty Score Card ranks targeted households into four different categories, which are defined as following:

1. ‘Extremely Poor’ are households whose score on the PSC is between 0 and 11.

2. ‘Chronically Poor’ are households whose score on the PSC is between 12 and 18.

3. ‘Transitory Poor’ are households whose score on the PSC is between 19 and 23.

4. ‘Non-Poor’ are households whose score on the PSC is between 24 and 100.

Till December 2011, SRSO had organized 267,554 households into 15,360 Community Organizations (CO), which in turn provide members for 5,924 Village Organizations (VO). These village organizations have so far clustered into 27 Local Support Organizations (LSO) with 64 members in total. These members have been provided with training to enable to conduct management skills training at the village and community level.

SRSO staff provides communities with the know-how and support required to mobilize socially. COs and VOs have been provided with rural support products and these products are designed while keeping in mind the local context of poverty. The use of these products by the beneficiaries is dictated by their PSC i.e. different categories enable a household to receive different sorts of products. These products are as follows:

1. Social mobilization of the target population into Community Organisations (CO) and

   Village   Organisations (VO)

2.  Income Generating Grants (IGG)

3.  Small Loans from the Community Investment Fund (CIF)

4.  Vocational Training Program (VTP)

5.  Unskilled Labor Opportunities through Community Physical Infrastructure (CPI)

6. Micro Health Insurance (MHI)

7. Education, which focuses on rehabilitation of built schools which are

   non-operational.

8. Village Rehabilitation Program (VRP)

Finding:

SDPI randomly selected 5% of these UCs for process review. The Process review covers 3 districts, 10 Tehsils, 16 union councils, and 24 villages. Out of the 16 UCs, 5 are from Shikarpur, 5 from Kashmore-Kandhkot and 6 are from Jacobabad. Total number of COs in the process review is 23 and the total number of VOs is 16. Both the UCs and the villages were randomly selected by the SRSO staff and SDPI had no role in deciding which VOs to include in the process review. It must also be noted that the calculation of the poverty score is undertaken at SRSO’s office and SDPI has no role in calculation of these scores.

The level of success that has been achieved by the UCBPRP since 2009 is remarkable. There is a sense of achievement, ownership and confidence amongst the mobilized HHs. It must also be appreciated that SRSO provides interest free loans to its beneficiaries and that most of the HHs have seen a rise in the poverty score since the initiation of the program. Another positive impact of the program has been integration of different ethnicities and cultures under the COs and VOs. These people have realized the power which lies in collective action and it really is beautiful to observe the change in attitudes of the beneficiaries towards what they can achieve with their will power.

In VO Kamal Bhangwar, SDPI team observed that members of Baloch ethnicity were feeling at home in Sind because of their integration in to the society through the UBPRP. This assimilation and dialogue between HHs at village and community level has led to innovative solutions to the common problems. It has also led to dispute resolution and created trust between SRSO and the locals. The assimilations does not only work for the migrants into Sind but also for the different ‘baradaris’ in the area.

In VO ChannaMaula, district Kashmore-Kandhkot, the children of the village had formed their own organization and had a savings account worth PKR 300. The VO members from this village also told the SDPI team that they planned on starting a primary school for girls but the local ‘vadera’ was against this. VO said that they had talked to SRSO about this; the SRSO staff reassured them that this problem will be taken up with the district administration. Such examples need to be shared with the public and especially with the VOs and COs of other areas in the region so that they can learn from best practices.

An important observation made by the SDPI team is that majority of the target population does not have any access to televisions. The process review team is of the opinion that if the CO and VO members are given distance learning material, they can come up with innovative ideas to uplift their socio-economic conditions. One thing that could be done is to make video presentations on best practices related to RSP products across Sind initially and then showcase these to the CO/VO members. The content can be expanded to include national and global examples. This way they can see what practices have what particular benefits and can create the best solutions for themselves.

It was also observed that the CNICs of local population had wrong date of births because of the unavailability of this sort of data from the district administration records. Some COs/VOs had taken up the task of making lists of births and deaths in their area and were maintaining these records to facilitate the problems faced by locals while applying for identification documents. Practices like this can be encouraged in other COs/VOs and can be linked with NADRA to ensure that NADRA records are accurate.

In areas visited by the process review team in Jacobabad, it was observed that a dearth of midwives was causing a lot of problems for pregnant women. Residents of this area were of the view that if SRSO can help initiate midwives training or establish a mother and child health center in the vicinity it would help save many lives. Similarly, the standard of schools in this region was also very poor although SDPI process review did not include any schools from this district but this observation was made while talking to the local population.

In the VO, Din Muhammad Malik, some beneficiaries of MHI were experiencing delay in the delivery of health insurance cards. Even though most of these beneficiaries had not yet used the card, they were very satisfied with the fact that they had in fact the possession of something that was their very own and was guaranteed to work. This kind of attitude is observable in other cases with other SRSO products as well. While this is a very positive change, SRSO must be cautious to remember that it is their duty to make the beneficiaries and the target populations realize that this just the beginning of what they can achieve through RSPs and the video based distance learning mentioned earlier in this section can go a long way in just doing that.

Also, the quality of training especially trainings based on exposure visits must be improved and these trainings must include more members and ask them to think out of the box solution that will work for them by learning from other examples.

BDOs still have to start working and making themselves useful to the VTP trainees. There is still a need to make the beneficiaries of MHI better understand whether OPD is covered in the insurance or not. The beneficiaries of IGG have all engaged in purchase of livestock, and although given the circumstances, this might be the best investment possible. But SRSO needs to help these beneficiaries figure out how to diversify their investment portfolio. Examples exist where beneficiaries have invested money into organizing a small vegetable garden in their backyard which feeds the entire HHs during months of low HH income.

To sum up, there is a great deal of change that has accompanied UCBPRP, and this change needs to make its way in to the greater literature so that more people also learn from this example. Publications based on the research conducted, on case studies and poverty score trajectories can be very helpful in garnering more financial and moral support for the UCBPRP.

Impact Assessment:

Impact Assessment survey was conducted by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) upon the request of Sindh Rural Support Organization (SRSO). The exercise covers two districts like Shikarpur and Kashmore-Kanhdkot and its purpose is to determine the hard impact of the UCBPRP in terms of assets.

In order to carry out the exercise, SDPI was provided  with the list of all UCs, villages and the beneficiaries in 85 Union Councils and 7 Tehsils of two districts of Shikarpur and Kahsmore-Kandhkot. The exercise covers the said two districts, all 7 Tehsils and 17 union councils, which makes the total sample to 20 per cent. Out of the 17 UCs, 10 are from Shikarpur and 7 from Kashmore-Kandhkot. In the context of 2010 floods in UCBPRP operational area, 10 non-flood, 6 flood-affected and one partly-affected UC is selected to determine the impacts. Total number of beneficiaries assessed the exercise is 542 of 17 sample UCs.

The key findings of the study suggest that a total of 414 (76.38%) beneficiaries came out of the poverty bands and moved to the higher categories. Only 40 (7.38%) were living under the ‘extremely poor’, category while 88 (16.24%) left in the category of ‘chronically poor’. 116 (21.40%) moved the next category of ‘transitory poor’ and 298 (54.98%) non-poor.

Keeping in view the results of the study, it is strongly recommended to carry out more comprehensive and broad-based impact assessment for targeted and sector-wise interventions in future under UCBPRP. There is also need to determine the internal and external factors behind: 55% came out of poverty bands and moved to the non-poor category and 45% remained extremely poor and transitory poor. It is further recommended that UCBPRP may be continued further to protect all three poverty bands.

Recommendations

  • A more comprehensive and broad-based impact assessment is required for targeted and sector-wise interventions in future under UCBPRP
  • There is a need to determine internal and external factors behind: 55% came out of poverty bands and moved to the non-poor category and 45% remained poor and transitory poor.
  • Keeping in view the positive impacts of both non-flood and disaster-related interventions, UCBPRP may be continued further to protect all three poverty bands.
  • The beneficiary who has shifted to the non-poor category may also need to be taken care in future SRSO interventions or may be excluded through phase-out strategy. Different nature of programs may also be designed to target non-poor category.
  • Since social mobilisation is a major factor besides financial assistance to alleviate poverty and empower women, it needs more focus investments.
  • Comprehensive Study need to be conducted to determine soft impacts of the program.
  • There is a need to conduct communication audit of the programme in order to devise comprehensive communication strategy to reach out beneficiaries in an effective manner.
  • Also, need to record success stories, where beneficiaries have benefitted from the UCBPRP interventions in particular and the whole community in general.

An empirical study also needs to be conducted to determine the role of external factors in overall increase in the poverty score. These programmes can be like Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and other government sector flood and non-flood related interventions.