The novel concept of Integrated Rural Development was based on the fact that all aspects of life are inter-related and no lasting results could be achieved if individual aspects of it are dealt with in isolation. Hence, in rural development all services and programs should be integrated to achieve the tangible results.
From Concept to Action: Shadab Pilot Project
The Integrated Rural Development approach was first piloted under “Shadab Pilot Project” launched in 1968, and the efficacy of the concept was practically demonstrated through this project. The refined concept of SHADAB was:
“To select a production area comprising of 50 to 60 villages with a view to improve the socio-economic status of the target group, through intensive rural development program. The initial thrust shall be to increase agricultural production and productivity by intensification, diversification and commercialization of agriculture based on sound physical, organizational and institutional infrastructure. This will require upgrading of skills through appropriate technology, provision of credit, inputs, machinery, tools, storage, marketing, health and education etc. As a package deal from a focal point (Growth Center called MARKAZ) close to the farmers’ threshold”.
Foundation of RDF
It is unfortunate that in Pakistan, with the change of government, even successful programs are rolled back, without proper evaluation, due to politically motivated reasons. IRDP also met with the same fate and the program which was nationally and internationally recognized was discontinued. Consequently, Dr. M. Sadiq Malik (Late) decided to continue his mission of rural development and poverty alleviation through a foundation (NGO) based on IRDP concept. So, it was in June 1978, when Rural Development Foundation (RDF) was established to chase the cherished goal of poverty alleviation in rural areas, following the integrated rural development approach.
“We, the following group of Pakistanis, who share the belief that a charitable, non- governmental, non-political and non-profit making organization, sensitive to the needs and aspirations of the rural poor, can play a vital role in support of the government rural uplift programme, have decided to establish Rural Development Foundation of Pakistan with Rural Volunteers Corps as its operational arm.”