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International Day of Peasants struggle 2012 - Open Letter

A message from Tanveer Arif, SCOPE pakistan

International Day of Peasants struggle 2012 - Open Letter

Society for Conservation and Protection of Environment (SCOPE), observed International Day of Peasants Struggle on April 17th at Press Club of Hyderabad Sindh. A large number of women peasants participated and paid tribute to massacred peasanst of Southern Brazil, who scrified their lives for land rights. At this moment National Peasants Coalition of Pakistan - Pakistan Kisan Sangat (NPCP-PKS), issues following OPEN LETTER to political parties and stakeholders in Pakistan.

Open letter

April 17, 2012

Where are land reforms on political agenda?

Dear Sir/ Madam

Announcing that Pakistan Kisan Sangat پاکستان کسان سنگت or National Peasants Coalition of Pakistan (NPCP), is a national level coalition of peasants movements of Pakistan, which was created on February 2012 at a national peasants convention at Hyderabad.

Aware with the fact that about two-fifth of the labour force in Pakistan is engaged in agriculture, which contributes to one-tenth of the country’s GDP.

Realizing that land in Pakistan’s context is not merely an economic commodity in Pakistan; it is also a source of social and political power. Agricultural land ownership in the country is highly concentrated and unequal. Around half of the rural households do not own any land, and the top 5 % own over a 1/3 of all cultivated area.

Recognizing the fact that rural women spend more hours in agriculture labour than men but they earn less income compared to men and face more hardships to own agricultural land;

Knowing that inequality of land ownership and landlessness is a major cause of poverty and backwardness in Pakistan. The large farms have approached the maximum yield per acre with the available technology. Further growth in agricultural output increasingly depends on raising the yield per acre of smaller farms. The small-farm sector, whose yield potential remains to be fully utilized, constitutes a substantial part of the agrarian economy.

Also realizing that in Pakistan small farms (less than 25 acres) constitute 88% of the total number of farms, and 57 % of total farm area. The 54 % of the total farm area in the small-farm sector is tenant-operated. Since tenants lose half of any increase in output to the landlord, they lack the incentive to invest in technology, which would raise yields. Because of their weak financial and social position they also lack the ability to make such investment.

Aware that tenants’ ability to invest is further eroded by a nexus of social and economic dependence on the landlord, which deprives the tenant of much of his investable surplus. Thus the objective of raising yields in the small-farm sector is dependent on removal of the institutional constraints to growth arising out of the fact of tenancy.

Convinced that the corporate farming policy of Government of Pakistan is against the economic and food security interests of the nation. Corporate farming will displace farm labors and small scale farmers, particularly women and further marginalize them from their livelihoods.

We believe that a land reform programme that gives land to the tiller is an essential step in providing the small farmer with both the incentive and the ability to raise his/her yields. Land reforms are required not only to accelerate agricultural growth, but to prevent the developing social crisis associated with the poverty and disempowerment of peasantry in Pakistan’s rural society.

We recall that land reforms in Pakistan are an unfinished agenda. The country has experienced 3 attempts of land reforms in 1959, 1972 and 1977. Unfortunately in 1977, during the land reforms debate, a military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq toppled the civilian government and during Zia era a Shariat bench of Supreme Court of Pakistan upheld an appeal to declare land reforms against the law of Shariat.

We recognize that redistributive land reforms (state’s takeover of land from large landowners and its allotment to the landless farmers) did not achieve a great deal due to the political power wielded by the landowning classes.

We believe that land reforms play an important role in agriculture production, poverty eradication and empowering the poor farmers. In Pakistan, the power of landed aristocracy has acted as a barrier to social and economic progress of the rural society. Genuine land reform can help solve the problems caused by the fact that farmers often use relatively inefficient capital-intensive techniques due to distorted market prices and that small farmers do not have access to the liberal credit subsidies on imported machinery and capital equipment.

We as members of National Peasants Coalition of Pakistan (NPCP) - Pakistan Kisan Sangat پاکستان کسان سنگت

Hereby demand from all political parties and stakeholders that a new land and agrarian reforms be introduced in Pakistan

While supporting the charter of Oxfam’s Dharti campaign, we hereby demand that:




  1. All major political parties must clearly express their commitment about a land reforms programme in Pakistan. All political parties should include an equitable, effective land and agrarian reforms in their election manifestos;


  2. A comprehensive land and agrarian reforms programme should be introduced in Pakistan with immediate effect which is based on pro-poor, pro-peasant, equity and gender justice principles;


  3. The verdict of Shariat Bench of Supreme Court, during Gen. Zial-ul-Haq’s rule which declared land reforms against Islamic principles, should be revoked with immediate effect;


  4. Landless women should be given priority in land re-distribution programmes and all discriminatory legal and cultural practices that prevent women’s right to own agricultural land and be recognized as a farmer should be declared illegal. Women should be recognized as Farmers not just as farm workers;


  5. Land ownership ceiling be fixed at 50 acres irrigated and 100 acres non-irrigated land per family. The necessary legislation should be introduced in favour of land reforms;


  6. The land recovered from large land owners should be redistributed among the peasant landless farmers, who have been working on that land with proper legal titles;


  7. The Existing tenancy acts should be reformed to allow workers to establish unions, demand fair wages and receive land titles supporting their legal rights to the land; while legal mechanisms should be put in place to adjudicate complaints and resolve conflicts;


  8. Bonded agriculture labour and keeping peasants in private jails should be declared a heinous crime which should be sentenced with maximum punishment to those who commit it


  9. All laws and regulations regarding land developed under colonial era that is anti small farmer, should be abandoned and a judicial commission on land utilization should be formed to check exceeding commercialization of land;


  10. The landless farmer families should be allotted at least 10 acres of agricultural land and the land titles should be in the name of both husband and wife;


  11. The agriculture land occupied by or allotted to military farms and government departments should be revoked and redistributed among the local landless peasants;


  12. Corporate farming should not be promoted under the current policy framework. There must be a new legal framework which must ensure food security, abiding of labour laws and a ceiling limit over land. The land reserved for corporate farming should be distributed among landless farmers;


  13. Utilization of groundwater should be brought under a regulatory law to ensure equity and protection of underground water resources;


  14. Allotment of forest land to the influential persons has to be revoked and re-allotted to the peasants on the condition of re-forestation. The occupied surveyed or un-surveyed lands in the country must be re-surveyed and distributed among the landless peasants and agriculture workers families.


  15. quitable distribution of the water at the tail-end is imperative. To avoid water logging and salinity, the canals, branches and watercourses should be lined. The government must draw up an agriculture policy with the consultation of agriculture scientists, peasants, agriculture workers and growers.


  16. The parliament should be persuaded to pass a legislation for protection of the peasant’s rights, allowing them to have their trade unions, ensuring social justice and providing them the old age benefits to men and women farmers of Pakistan;


  17. he new Food Security and Research Ministry must focus on the land related issues as on of their priority area of work;

Sincerely,

Members of National Peasants Coalition of Pakistan/ Pakistan Kisan Sangat پاکستان کسان سنگت

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Letter of interest

Brief Organizational Profile
UNITE SOCIAL WELFARE SOCIETY
(Empowering Communities for Development)

CONTACT DETAILS
United Social Welfare Society (USWS)
Khan Pur, District- Rahim Yar Khan- Pakistan
E-mail: usws_74pk@hotmail.com.
Web: www.freewebs.com/uswspakistan
Phone: +92-068-558156
+92- 301-3944662-346-8435861-345-8030114

1. INTRODUCTION

United Social Welfare Society (USWS) is a local NGO established in a small village Chak # 74/A Feroza Tehsil Khan Purr District Rahim Yar Khan (RYK)- Punjab. USWS was established a group of like minded young people to work for development of the village. With the passage of time, members and supporters of USWS considered the need to reorganize its initiatives and efforts in a more integrated and professional manner so that it could support other communities in neglected areas of RYK. The strategic envisioning of its members has worked well and now USWS is working at district RYK level and have increased its outreach to other districts of Punjab. The development interventions initiated by USWS are benefiting large number of marginalized communities.
An autonomous Board of Directors (BOD) governs present USWS. The board members are highly motivated and committed to work for development of poor communities in the region and have taken many initiatives that support community members, especially women to build capacity to work for their own development.
USWS has now established strong roots in the community and has created a culture of participatory development among its target communities. To reduce poverty, injustice and miseries of the marginalized communities in its target areas, USWS is focusing on livelihood, WatSan, Health, Human & Institutional Development, Education, Women Empowerment and Disaster Management.
2. VISION STATEMENT

Society based on the principle of Justice, Peace, Interdependence and Non-Violence.
3. MISSION STATEMENT

Improving the role and capacities of marginalized communities to improve their quality of life with equal participation of all;
4. OBJECTIVES

USWS has following aims and objectives:
• Advocating for change within existing community structures to create a safe and supportive environment development.
• Build/ strengthen the social institutions in support of the marginalized communities.
• To provide clean drinking water and building up sanitation infrastructure in remote areas.
• To provide health care services in mother and child care, women reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other communicable diseases.
• To impart skills and knowledge for improvement in human and institutional development through training and consultancy with NGOs, CBOs, and community groups.
• To facilitate women empowerment through interventions for women rights, gender and equal participation with men in leadership and decision-making.
• To contribute in developing quality education through enhancing capacity of existing establishments/setups with conscious efforts for increasing literacy in girls and deserving sections of society.
• To promote Inter-faith harmony and peace.
• To network with like-minded organizations and forums for collective efforts at local, national and international levels.

5. CORE VALUES
• 0ur work is built upon the values of equality and rights of all people. This includes work towards the eradication of all discriminations based on gender, sexuality, religion, age, ability, ethnicity, language, nationality, class or other factors.
• We are committed to work as part of a movement to build our collective voice, power and influence.
• In all our interactions we strive for transparency, responsible use of financial resources, fairness, accountability and integrity.
• We strive for excellence, while being creative, bold and courageous.

6. PROGRAM AREAS

6.1. Livelihoods Program
Majority of the communities in RYK district attribute their problems to lack of livelihood opportunities. The main sources of livelihoods of the communities are agriculture and livestock especially among womenfolk. People lack skills in natural resource management, agriculture and small enterprises. They also lack access to required investment to start and manage small scale enterprises through manipulating natural resources and enterprises at community level and are unable to earn enough living. It has resulted in poverty that affects their capacity to address issues relate to health, education, economic development and human rights discrimination. The 2010 floods further exacerbated the state of natural environment and resources in these areas by damaging irrigation channels, water harvesting and conservation methods at the village level.
6.2. Water and Sanitation (WatSan) Program
Majority of the rural areas in RYK district have no access to clean and safe drinking water. The communities mostly use unprotected dug wells at the household level. The communities complain about poor water quality (in terms of taste) and insufficient quantity of water presently available to them.
Only few families use pour flush latrines with septic tanks in their homes. Due to non-availability of latrine facilities, the male members are compelled to practice open defecation, whereas females and children use existing household premises for open defecation. Personal and environmental hygiene conditions in the areas are found in poor shape. Most of the people have very few means to take care of their personal and environmental hygiene because they use unprotected water for drinking. Communities do not have adequate knowledge about health and hygiene issues and complain about stomach and skin diseases.
6.3. Health Program
Lack of awareness about hygiene and sanitation practices, and preventable diseases in the target areas have resulted in spread of hepatitis A, scabies, diarrhea, malaria, and cholera. Communities are unable to manage these health problems due to lack of knowledge about the causes of these diseases and access to appropriate health services. There is also scarcity of health care professionals, such as TBAs (Traditional Birth Attendants), LHVs (Lady Health Visitors), LHWs (Lady Health Workers), Doctors and nurses in the rural areas to deal with health problems related to women health and maternal and child mortality issues. There is great need to increase focus on programs such as mother and child health (MCH), and to prevent spread of communicable diseases like scabies, diarrhea, malaria, cholera and hepatitis A. Since many males from these areas work in Middle East countries as laborers therefore few cases related to hepatitis B, C and HIV/AIDS have been reported.
6.4. Human and Institutional Development Program
RYK district has quite a number of small CBOs, and NGOs active in the rural areas for last two decades to help poor communities. Due to lack of skills and capacity to manage development projects effectively and professionally, they cannot raise required financial resources for long-term development in this area. As a result, they have not been able to sustain their organizations and projects. There is greater need to build institutional capacity of these small CBOs and NGOs and their staff so that they access resource available under local government development programs and from INGOs.
6.5. Education Program
Access to educational facilities in the rural areas is limited in RYK district. There are very few public and private sector schools in the settled villages and the city center. Moreover, it is difficult for children of many poor communities to access education from these schools because they do not have adequate means of transportation while living in difficult hilly areas. Girls in particular have to discontinue education after primary level education because their parents cannot afford to send their daughter to high schools near urban areas due to security reason. Likewise, lack of public transport in the hilly terrains coupled with excessive expenditure on transport fares forces parents with low economic status to keep their children out of schools.

6.6. Women Empowerment Program
Women contribute a lot in diversified livelihoods activities but they are often not allowed or encouraged to participate in decision-making processes and to manage financial resources. The relegation of females to only being implementers and restricting their initiative taking abilities, not only limit their productivity in the family but in the community as a whole. Violence against women is observed especially in the rural areas. Unless women are provided equal opportunities in education and other development interventions such as health, livelihoods, water and sanitation it is difficult to further the agenda of sustainable development in this area.
6.7. Disaster Management Program
USWS’s community development interventions in RYK district are compromised due to frequent disasters such as floods, heavy rains. Because of these disasters, they loose livelihoods sources, which are based on agriculture, livestock and poultry. Likewise, it also affects infrastructure, irrigation, drinking water and sanitation systems. Despite occurrence of frequent disasters in NWFP including RYK district, communities have no knowledge about disaster preparedness and mitigation. There have been no concrete efforts made to build capacity of communities to manage effects of disasters. The rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations are the only efforts made by public and private sector during and after disaster. The importance of these efforts can never be under-estimated but there is a great need to consider capacity-building needs of the local communities to mitigate impacts of the future disasters to prevent loss of precious human lives, livestock, and family and community assets. These losses can be averted if sound preparedness and efforts for disaster mitigation are taken. USWS believes that disaster management is a cross cutting area and it should be in-built in all development projects undertaken by local the local CBOs and NGOs working in this area.
7.0. MANAGEMENT:
The organization is governed by its board of directors consisting of 7 members, who make the policies and set the goals and targets of the organization. The board has engaged highly devoted and professional staff to carry out the activities undertaken by the organization.
USWS has its written policies and procedures to operate its Administration, Financial and Program departments. The Board of Directors is responsible to ensure that the organization exercises its values in all its planned projects to meet the objectives

8.0. DEPARTMENTS
USWS has two major departments to manage its program and operations.
8.1. Program Department
The projects and programs are implemented through Program Department. The department is responsible for proposal developments, reports, policy & programming, monitoring & evaluation of projects, liaison with donors and line departments, field operations, and capacity building of different projects’ stakeholders. The department works every professionally to manage the quality of services and programs.
8.2. Operations Department
Operations is responsible for financial records, physical control over assets and records; independent checks on financial and non financial activities; proper authorization of transaction and activities; and administrative affairs, human resources management and procurement. The department ensures financial and administrative systems are maintained and internal control systems are in compliance with improvement of established policies and procedures. The department works through its trained and highly professional staff.
9.0. STRATEGY
USWS ensures social inclusion of socially and economically vulnerable communities and groups. USWS believes in participation and activism of children, youth, women, disabled population and minorities to realize their potential and need to develop and help eradicate injustice and poverty. USWS ensures capacity building of the beneficiaries for sustainability of the projects and building up structures and capacities of local communities to cope with the problems caused by injustice, poverty and disasters.
10.0. SUSTAINABILITY
The sustainability question is of prime concern for USWS. USWS has been working on an approach of optimum utilization of local resources. USWS has always focused on building the capacity of these communities to take charge of handling these programs through their own resources. The CBOs formed under USWS’s network are maintaining their own savings and through further strengthening will soon be in a position to operate individual revolving funds of the credit component.
USWS applies following strategies to raise its funds.
 Membership fee
 Sale of printed material
 Community based development funds
 Donors support (Local)
 Donors support (International)

11.0 REGISTRATION
USWS is registered under Volunteer Social Services (Registration and Control) Ordinance of 1961 Societies with the Government of Punjab. The registration number is DO/SW/BM (RYK) 2003/0 of 2003.

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