The people living in the remote areas of Pakistan-administered Kashmir are often living without even basic necessities of life. In such areas, the improvement of basic community infrastructure is necessary, which is also genuine aspiration of the local people. We believe that clean water, easy road access, soil conservation, education and health are the basic necessities of life and should be considered part of any integrated livelihood program as it motivates local people to take active part in the developmental activities. Working hand-in-hand with communities to build or improve local, small-scale infrastructure is intrinsic to our social and economic development. The infrastructure projects help supply public services that improve living standards. Such projects also foster economic opportunities while promoting stronger local government and community institutions. Through both the infrastructure and the process whereby it is constructed, we empower individuals, households, farmers, entrepreneurs and others to thrive in the global economy.
We are committed to working with local communities as true partners in developing vibrant, productive societies. Through our model, local stakeholders, including government departments and local communities, collaborate with us on infrastructure projects from the planning stage to completion. Communities themselves identify the need for an infrastructure project. The proposed project gets approved by a committee, which consists of our donor, our government counterpart and our organization. Then our staff implements the project in partnership with the community. By working with local people we contribute to the local economy. We ensure the participation of vulnerable groups, including minorities, poor, internally displaced persons, women and youth. We engages with the community throughout the construction process, carrying out the supervision of the work, helping the community organize a management and maintenance committee to take the responsibility for the project, and conducting the needed training to enable the committee to perform this role. Through this locally driven process, we have succeeded in training thousands of participants in project planning, technical design, financial management, procurement, project management and maintenance. Community participation in these activities is high which contribute a significant share in the cost of project. With an eye to sustainability, we engage with the community and the local government department in a facilitative, capacity-building approach that prepares cadres of future local leaders. Our team works with government authorities at the local and intermediate levels to support basic infrastructure investments and essential inputs. We provide targeted training and technical assistance to enhance community capacity for investment, management and operations. When appropriate, we develop partnership agreements to ensure the proper operation and maintenance of infrastructure projects over time. To ensure sustainability, we trained local farmers in irrigation channel use, repair and maintenance, and assisted in linking their fields to the newly repaired canals. Road improvement means better access to markets for farmers, cooperatives, associations, businesses and entrepreneurs; which ultimately allows more production to reach markets, creating increased economic activity and enhancing food security.
Small-scale infrastructure projects also help maintain a community’s well-being by creating easy access to health services and improvement in enrollment of children in schools. We constructed small bridges in the remote areas which provide easy access to schools children and patients to reach their destination. In Neelam Valley, we have completed over 750 community-driven projects, with the assistance of UNWFP, including construction and rehabilitation and construction of micro-hydel units, footbridges, irrigation channels, protection walls, and small dams. These projects have created more than 25,000 jobs and trained over 3,750 people in sustaining these programs which have benefited over 102,000 families. During the project implementation, we raised awareness about protecting the local environment, helping the community to grow and plant trees to protect critical water sources and manage household waste in ways that minimize environmental hazards.