Social Mobilization has a key role in evidence-based planning, policy formulation and implementation of community based socio-economic development interventions particularly in the rural areas. Therefore, Rural Support Programs (RSPs) have prioritized Social Mobilization as a core program activity to ensure sustainable community development programs/projects through community ownership.
Through its Social Mobilization Program, RDF has earlier established Village Development Committees (VDCs) in 1978-1985 to ensure community ownership and sustainability of development interventions. However, in Development Area –I (Village Gohdo, Tehsil Taxila, Rawalpindi) with passage of time and operationalization of other RSPs, the VDCs most probably are to be renamed as Community Organizations (COs), Village Organizations (VOs) or Women Organizations (WOs) and registered with RSPs and respective Social Welfare Departments.
RDF continues working in Gohdo, Taxila and also plans for new development areas with a viable institutional set up (COs/VDCs/V/WOs) to organize and encourage the local communities to take active participation in problem identification, planning, resource mobilization and program development to overcome their issues.
RDF has, therefore, planned to re-design its social mobilization strategy through the following measures, which shall be followed over the next 5 years.
Process of Social Mobilization Strategy
A. Priming of Local Communities for Their Development
Initially, RDF social mobilization team will hold meetings and dialogues with both male and female community members in new proposed project site (Shahdara Village). During the meeting, RDF staff will sensitize and mobilize local communities about the needs, aims and objectives of social mobilization and establishment of Community Organizations (COs) for effective community participation in identification and solution of their development needs.
Meanwhile, RDF staff will conduct Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) to identify the problems of the local communities.
B. Gender-inclusive Institutional Development
In second phase of Social Mobilization, local community members will be facilitated to establish VDC/V/WOs based on equal representation of COs, locality and common interest with respective registration authority. RDF will also facilitate the VDC/V/WOs to register with nearest Local Support Organization (LSO) established by RSP.
C. Selection of Local Leadership and Capacity Building
RDF will mobilize and encourage the local communities to select a governing body (president and general secretary) to represent their organization at local level for interaction with Government agencies, national and international NGOs.
After selection of the governing body of the local institutions, RDF will organize capacity building workshops for governing body in areas of social mobilization, record keeping, communication, saving, networking and development of resilient and self-reliant community structures through project formulation and operation.
To ensure maximum participation and ownership of community in development interventions, RDF will also facilitate to establish local level committees i.e. Health, Education, Forest and Agriculture, etc. These local committees will be part of Project Management Committee in future development projects implemented by RDF and other development agencies.
All the process of social mobilization will be carried out through mutual understanding and signing of Terms of Agreement indicating terms of engagement of RDF and local community/CO.
Once Cos are established at local level, RDF will help to register these organizations with relevant Government departments in the respective areas to make these as legal entity.
E. Financial Management & Linkages
RDF will facilitate the newly established COs to open a bank account for financial transactions. To open a bank account, RDF will encourage members of COs to pay their share of Rs. (50-100) as registration / membership fee. RDF shall also import training in the area of financial management to the COs.
F. Entry Point Intervention
After consultation with the respective COs, an entry point intervention will be planned, project development process will be facilitated and potential donors will be approached for project financing. RDF shall facilitate the respective CBO in this process.
G. Linkages Development
After operationalization of COs through formal procedures, RDF will make efforts to link the COs with national and international level development stakeholders to realize outcomes of community-led development initiatives.
H. Resource Mobilization
Initially, RDF will utilize its existing human, financial and logistic resources to facilitate and operationalize its Social Mobilization Strategy. However, short-term need-based local staff will be hired to facilitate the RDF staff for smooth field operation.
Once COs are established and become operational, tasks will be handed over to them. RDF shall continue working closely with these COs for purpose of capacity building and their mainstreaming.
I. Sustainability and Follow-up
To ensure sustainability and to make the COs functional, members will be encouraged to hold weekly or bi-monthly meetings. RDF staff will make maximum efforts to ensure full participation in the meetings.
J. Social Mobilization Exit Strategy
In early stages of community interaction, RDF will make the local leadership realize that they should take ownership of development interventions through active participation and volunteerism. Once the Cos are functional, capacity of local leadership will be developed and linkages established for sustainability, RDF will work on the exit strategy.
In the second stage, RDF will encourage the local leadership to come forward to take decisions in community led development interventions and negotiate with Government agencies, CSOs and donor agencies. However, back-stoping mission from RDF will continue for a specific timeline for the smooth transition from RDF to the communities.