Background/ Context (Rural Development)
Nearly 60 percent of Pakistan’s population resides in rural areas, and ekes out its existence from agriculture sector directly or indirectly for their livelihood. The rural sector of Pakistan however, presents a dismal and gloomy picture of poverty with manifest signs of ill health, alarmingly low rate of literacy, malnutrition, high population growth rate, poor social and physical infrastructure, mostly small and fragmented holdings, low productivity, unemployment, rural to urban migration, absence of people-centered institutions, inequality and bad governance at local levels.
Agricultural Development is an integral part of rural development. But to be successful, rural development must simultaneously go beyond agriculture development encompassing overall socio-political and economic dimensions of development. Rural development broadly conceived, means meaningful rural transformation or change that mainstreams the rural population. The central concept of rural development is the process at its centre, through which rural poverty could be alleviated by sustained increases in the productivity and incomes of low-income rural workers and households. Further, rural development is a strategy designed to improve the economic and social life of a targeted population –rural poor. It involves extending the benefits of mainstream development to the poorest, especially to those who earn their livelihood from the rural areas. The group includes small and marginal farmers, landless laborers, tenants, share-croppers, women, elderly and youth. Rural development depends on sustained growth in rural incomes, derived primarily from agriculture but also off-farm income that can meet the needs of quality life in the rural areas.
Rural farming communities are also confronted with newly emerging issues caused by climate change, rural food insecurity, multi-lateral trading system and globalization. Also, frequent exposure to natural and man-made disasters such as earthquakes, prolonged drought, flash and riverine flooding have debilitated the rural population. Thus, for achieving equitable benefits from rural farming system in a sustainable manner, it is important to develop resilient farming communities with the help of civil society organizations working at the grass root level.
With the passage of time a change in rural landscape has taken place alongside shift to off-farm income in rural areas. Thus, the advocacy strategy to be followed by RDF necessitates this change i.e. to include IGAs (Income generating activities). The need is to mainstream the excluded segments of the society. For instance, the government of Pakistan is in the process of mainstreaming the youth of Pakistan through launching its “Kamyab Jawan Program” as it believes that youth participation is an important aspect of socio-economic development being future leaders in the areas of economic and social development. Through this program the young generation can get opportunities to excel in their respective fields. RDF will like to align its programmatic actions with government of Pakistan “Ehsaas and Kifalat” and “Kamyab Jawan” programs.
The ultimate aim of RDF’s advocacy policy is to help translate into action RDF’s vision, “to create an opportunity for the rural poor to realize their true potential, to live with choice and dignity” meaning rural people’s empowerment with a greater focus on poor and the marginalized especially, small farmers, landless laborers, share croppers, tenants, women, out of school children, elderly and youth.
The thematic context of the advocacy policy is guided by the concept of Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP) and the thematic areas of action.
Advocacy Policy and Outreach Campaign
RDF’s advocacy policy and outreach campaign(s) will be evidence-based and rural population-centered and action oriented aiming at sustainable agricultural and rural development, to help alleviate rural poverty and mainstream disadvantaged segments of society guided by following thematic areas of work:
RDF’s vision is to ensure inclusive development by empowering the rural poor in such a manner whereby this target group becomes an asset- “solution provider”. The target group includes: small and marginalized farmers, landless labourers, tenants, share croppers, craftsmen, artisans, women, out of school children, youth and elderly.
RDF programming is gender sensitive and all out efforts will be made to ensure inclusive development.
Partners in Development
Messages will be specific for each target audience and guided by thematic areas, e.g.
Women tend to be discriminated mainly because bread winners are mostly the male counterparts in rural areas of Pakistan as far as access to food and nutrition is concerned. The need is to improve access to food and nutrition of women, especially pregnant / lactating mothers and infant’s nutrition and well being.
Climate Sensitive Advocacy will be adaptation and mitigation focused including awareness raising and capacity building sessions.
Those rural areas cut off from mainstream development inhabit virgin lands as no organic inputs, chemical fertilizers, etc. are used and these areas are potentially good for organic agriculture. RDF will facilitate organic production (sensitization, marketing, labeling, branding).
Pakistan is a part of multilateral government commitment to improve development goals related to education, food and nutrition, etc. by 2025. RDF’s food security and nutrition program, climate change program will contribute towards attainment of SDGs. Advocacy on SDGs, will be one of the contributory programs of the Foundation.
Integrated Rural Development Program (IRDP)
RDF is the pioneer and flag bearer of the concept of Integrated Rural Development Program (IRDP) in Pakistan, and is following this approach since 1978.
Agriculture/ Vocational Training
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Food and Nutrition Security (livelihoods / agriculture)
Disaster Risk Management and Emergency Response Planning and Resilient Communities Development
Other advocacy tools can include publications such as organizational brochures, Annual Reports, etc.