A try at self-management

By Zubeida Mustafa

HOUSE BUILDING BY LOWINCOME FAMILIES IN ORANGI by Akhter Hameed Khan. Published by Orangi Pilot Project, 1-D/ 26 Doulat House, Orangi Town, Karachi. Tel: 618628. 1990. 19 pp. Price not given.

ORANGI PILOT PROJECT MODELS by Akhter Hameed Khan. OPP, Karachi. 1990. 33pp.

A SURVEY OF ORANGI SCHOOLS. OPP, Karachi. 1990. 20 pp.

WOMEN WORK CENTRES STORY OF FIVE YEARS 1984-1989 by Akhter Hameed Khan. OPP, Karachi. 1989. 48 pp.

50-16-11-1990Eliminating poverty is one of the major challenges in all Third World countries. The conventional approach has been to get governments and social welfare agencies to assign funds and manpower to develop basic facilities for health, education and housing for lowincome families.

Needless to say this strategy has failed because of the paucity of resources and lack of involvement of the community.

In this context, the approach to development adopted by Dr Akhter Hameed Khan in Orangi — patterned after his Comilla project — is not only innovative. It has proved to be feasible and enduring. Since 1980, when the OPP was founded with the sponsorship of the BCCI, it has succeeded as a focus for self-mobilisation of the people of Orangi.

Dr Akhter Hameed, who is the driving force behind OPP, modestly attributes the good response not to his charisma but the vitality of the approach and its relevance to the real needs of the respondents. However, the fact is that Dr Akhter Hameed has come to be identified with the OPP and his commitment to the cause of the poor is legendary.

He describes the OPP as a research organisation which seeks to discover viable solutions to the problems of the poor. It does not set up schools or clinics. This is done by the community itself which is provided guidance in self-management and mobilisation of local managerial and financial resources.

In a nutshell, OPP’s modus operandi is to search for and motivate local activists who are willing to accept new ideas and methods. These activists are continuously trained and guided to inculcate responsibility, self-management, self-financing and better work ethics; Through these activists the process of change reaches the grass roots.

The four reports under review are a documentation of the success story of Orangi. Six programmes have been organised in this kachchi abadi of 800,000. They are the programmes for low-cost sanitation, housing, basic health and family planning, women work centres, supervised credit and school improvement. In their respective areas, these programmes seek to mobilise the people to generate their own funds and managerial resources to set up the services they need.

OPP’s performance has been amazing. Nearly 3011 sewerage lines have been laid and 45,014 latrines constructed. The health programme is providing contraceptive and immunisation services to women. The work centres have helped women earn Rs 24 million since 1984 through tailoring services on a self-management and self-financing basis. The credit programme has provided loans worth Rs four million for 384 projects in three years.

The relevance of the school programme is evident from the fact that of the 585 schools in Orangi, 509 are privately owned. Since 1987, OPP has been seeking to upgrade academic standards in the member institutions by providing teacher training, setting up libraries, encouraging use of audio-visual aids and publishing manuals.

What is perhaps most remarkable about OPP is that it regularly documents its research and performance. Until July, 42 quarterly progress reports had been published apart from 61 other publications.

Given the poverty of our book world, OPP’s publications are a treasure house of information on development methods. They should be compulsory reading for all development workers striving for the uplift of the masses.

Source: Dawn 16 Nov 1990