About Local Government and Rural Development
In Azad State of Jammu and Kashmir about 88% of the total population lives in the rural areas. Local Government and Rural Development Department is responsible for planning and implementation of programmers for socio-economic uplift and development of rural infrastructure. Local Government & Rural Development Department mainly focuses on provision of potable drinking water, improvement of sanitation, health and hygiene conditions, construction of rural infrastructure such as rural roads, footpaths, bridges and buildings, identification, planning and utilization of local resources, awareness raising campaigns, organization of communities and local councils etc. Presently a number of projects are underway with the assistance of Government of Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Government of Pakistan and international agencies/donors e.g. IDA, UNICEF, Asian Development Bank and FAO etc. For the effective implementation of rural infrastructure, Local Government and Rural Development Department has adopted participatory approach. The beneficiary communities are involved in identification, planning, implementation and most significantly in O&M of the completed scheme. Social Development is part of all infrastructure development activities which aims at integrating these needs to improve the socio-economic condition and O&M for sustainability of developed infrastructure schemes.
Local Govt. and Rural Development is responsible to provide basic facilities in Rural as well as pier-urban areas. The Rural area is mostly hilly and mountains and population is scattered. The facilities provided by the LG&RDD directly or indirectly relates to the poverty reduction, good health and for the improvement of socioeconomic condition. Local Govt. and Rural Development Department has sound back ground & enrich experience in working with the rural communities. The Department is working since 1954 with communities and the lesson learnt from previous experience is, that without involving communities in Planning and decision making process sustainable development could not be achieved as result oriented.
To enable communities to organize into Dehi/Urban Councils & facilitate the formation & execution of integrated development plans, utilizing local & other resources to achieve prosperity / well-being (khushali).
History of Local Government and Rural Development
Since its inception, Pakistan has embarked upon a number of rural and agricultural development progammes to increase the productivity and quality of rural life. These programs were partially or fully extended to all the provinces of the country including Azad Jammu & Kashmir. In different forms, almost all the successive programs of rural development have followed the model of development-from-above, maintaining a key role for the public officials and influential individuals in the rural areas. Local Government & Rural Development Department in AJ&K has evolved gradually from following rural development programs:
The Village Agricultural and Industrial Development (V-AID) Program, 1953-1962
The idea of "community development" - development through community based village organizations based on popular participation - was much in vogue in the early 1950s, and was introduced in India as a partnership between the local (elected) councils and government departments. In Pakistan, after the visit of a group of the Pakistani government officials to the United States to study the rural extension work in 1951, it was decided to adapt the American extension model to the conditions in Pakistan with the financial and technical assistance from the United States. It was suggested that Pakistan needed an organized effort to provide for various needs of the villagers; to identify things that villagers needed, and to bring the different nation-building government departments together to meet the needs. All of these ideas were packaged into the, Village Agricultural and Industrial development (V-AID) Program in 1953. The officially stated objectives of the V-AI D Program were to:
- Increase the output of agriculture and village industries for higher rural incomes.
- Provide more water, schools, health care centers, and other social and creational facilities.
The V-AID organization was put under the control of appointed government officials, as Development Officers, Supervisors, and Specialists to support and supervise the work of the front-line Village AID workers. In each district villages were organized as a Development Area to be administered by a Development Officer. The Development Officer was to be supported by Supervisors and Specialists drawn from different provincial departments (Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Health and Education) to gist the villagers to do their self-help work. The activities included in the Program were;
- Improvement in crop and livestock production.
- Building roads, bridges, culverts, schools, wells, and drains.
- Planting trees.
- And removing health hazards.