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Thematic Field visit on Nutrition, Rural Development and Local Governance

One of the areas which SUBAI Pakistan is actively working to support is seeking to introduce innovative approaches with the objective of “increased accessibility and transparency about the work of the Assemblies”. The agreed Sindh Provincial Assembly workplan contained such an activity the objective of which was to help the Members to visit other EU funded projects working in Sindh Province.

Therefore SUBAI Pakistan organized a thematic field visit of eight Sindh Assembly Members from Karachi to Sukkur some 470+kms away on April 2-3, 2018. Sukkur is the third largest city in Sindh after Karachi and Hyderabad, and is 12th most populous city in Pakistan.

The visit was arranged in collaboration with other European Union funded projects operating in Sindh Province including the Sindh Rural Support Organization (SRSO), Action Against Hunger and Action Aid Pakistan. At the request of the Members of the Assembly, the visit focused on the themes of rural development, women’s economic empowerment, local governance and nutrition.

Local Women briefing the Benefits of the Project and showing the high confidence

The objectives of the visit were:

  1. Rural development through women economic empowerment
  2. Realization of the local governance issues and grass root devolution problems.
  3. Understanding of malnutrition problem and proposition of bill to free delivery of drugs to malnourished children.

The visiting Members belong to different targeted Assembly Standing Committees and the Women Parliamentary Caucuses and included:

  1. Honourable Ms. Naheed Begum
  2. Honourable Ms. Naila Munir
  3. Honourable Ms. Saira Shahlyani
  4. Honourable Ms. Farham Seemi
  5. Honourable Ms. Kulsoom Chandio
  6. Honourable Mr. Dewan Chand Chawla
  7. Honourable Mr. Haji Shafi Muhammad Jamot
  8. Honourable Dr. Abdul Sattar Rajpar

The first day of the visit started with a congregation of almost 200 women in a village near Naseerabad town, in Larkana District. The Members of the Sindh Assembly observed that the confidence of the underprivileged women dramatically improved after gaining a better understanding about economic empowerment which was realized through the work and interventions of the SRSO project. The Members were pleased to see the eagerness and enthusiasm of rural women to place the village and their community on the upward trajectory of social and economic welfare.  After inspiring interaction with rural women, the Sindh Assembly Members participated in a colloquium where highly participatory interaction was built with the local government representatives at District Council Qambar-Shahdadkot. Over two dozen elected representatives of union councils and town committees attended this interaction with the members of the provincial assembly. This part of visit was arranged by another EU-funded project of Action Aid Pakistan. Valuable suggestions were put forward to strengthen the local government system. Members promised to raise their voice on the floors of the assembly to grant more powers, financial resources and autonomy to the local government councils to pursue more lucrative projects. Lastly, the Delegation visited the Nutrition Stabilization Centre at Shaikh Zaid Children’s Hospital in Larkana supported by Action Against Hunger through the EU funding. The delegation met with some stunted and malnourished children under treatment there. They were also briefed about the severity of malnutrition problems in the Province and nutrition supplies which face import duties and other impediments in reaching the inflicted children quickly enough.

On Day 2, the Members visited the SRSO Complex located in Sukkur. They were briefed about the grass root causes of underweight, stunted and children whose development had been hampered as a direct result of the malnutrition problems. The severity and scale of the problems were evidenced by the facts and figures shared by the Project team and optimal solutions were discussed. In addition, Members were told about the SRSO women economic empowerment project and visited the training center where women receive training sessions to help make their empowerment plans more successful. The Delegation also visited and bought some local income generating handicrafts from the rural women exhibited at the one stop shop in the SRSO Complex.  At the end of the visit the Sindh Assembly Members were able to interact and share with the media what they had seen during their visit and they took the opportunity to acknowledge the achievements of the EU-funded projects working in the Province and promised to support the Projects to empower women. Members realized the need for legislation to include nutrition supplies in the context of essential and life-saving drugs as this will help to ensure the timely supply of nutrition supplements coming from other countries to Pakistan. They pledged that they will work together across party lines to seek this change in the legislation. Furthermore, the Members committed to advocate for greater devolution of power at the local level and champion the importance of a healthy diet for children to eradicate the scourge of malnutrition in Sindh Province.

Almost 200 women gathering in a village of Naseerabad Town representing the Women Economic Empowerment