Sustainable Livelihood Rehabilitation in the Konsh Valley

To meet the immediate needs of earthquake affected ultra poor population, CHF partnered with HAASHAR Association and launched an initial project from May 2006 to January 2007 in the Konsh Valley, of Mansehra, NWFP. Following this initiative, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) supported CHF and HAASHAR with a 2.5 million Canadian dollar contribution towards further rehabilitation for the same communities. The project, Sustainable Livelihood Rehabilitation in the Konsh Valley, District Mansehra (the SLRK project) was initiated in a December 2006. Although it was originally scheduled to end June 2008, it was extended to December 31, 2008 with all field activities ending on October 31, 2008.
The SLRK project ranged over 158 villages in Hilkot, Chattar, Ichrian and Battal Union Councils. The Earthquake Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Authority (ERRA), set up by the government to handle the aftermath of the earthquake, recommended these Union Councils as requiring assistance. The project took a sustainable livelihoods approach (SLA) to earthquake rehabilitation in order to increase the extent to which the rural poor are empowered to take responsibility for their own development. This meant that attention was paid first to the existing assets of participating households and to addressing individual householders’ (men’s and women’s) abilities to improve livelihoods according to their individual aspirations. While the project was focused on poor individuals, ultra-poor households and interest groups formed from these households, it also included the broader community in participant identification. CHF and HAASHAR intend to move to a more community-centered approach in an upcoming reconstruction project which will last from February 2008 to March 2012.
The overall project work plan (which covered April 2007 to June 2008) was based on an analysis of individual household aspirations.When it became apparent that working with individual ultra-poor households would be much more labour intensive than the conventional community-based approach prevalent in Pakistan, CHF and HAAHSAR supplemented the field staff by identifying and hiring local community facilitators (150 men and women) from the beneficiary communities. This was followed by a period of intensive training for community facilitators and field staff, in interview techniques, gender sensitivity and environmental awareness. All field staff and community facilitators later undertook a revalidation of the HOP process to ensure that the men’s and women’s aspirations were accurately reflected in project data and planning. The remainder of the project focused on training project partners in agriculture, livestock and income generation, and in the distribution of assets. The project finished with a lessonslearned study that demonstrates ways in which the SLAapproach was used to achieve project goals.
Description of Activities
The project was carried out over an intense 22 month period. Since neither HAASHAR nor CHF had first-hand experience of working specifically with ultra-poor households in this area, the first six months were given entirely to project start up and design. This was followed by another six months of identifying, hiring and training field staff, revalidating household aspirations, forming interest groups and building the capacity of partner households to participate in them. The project also liaised with line agencies to secure technical assistance to design and provide training to livelihoods groups and to visit households to reassess progress and prepare for the upcoming reconstruction project implementation plan (PIP). Finally, an intensive six months of asset procurement, distribution and follow up led the teams to the end of project activities.
SLRK Project Livelihoods Assets and Strategy Support
Type of Asset
Number of Households Receiving Asset
Support Provided to Households
Improved and certified wheat seed (with fertilizer)
Training in improved wheat seed production and the proper use of fertilizer
Improved maize and associated inputs
Training in improved maize seed production and the proper use of fertilizer
Improved vegetable seeds and tool kits
802 households, 454 received a quantity for 2 marlas (16.5 x 16.5 ft) while 348 received a quantity for 1 kanal (20 marla = 1 kanal)
Support in soil preparation, planting techniques, disease control and use of pesticides
Seed for cash crops (potatoes and related inputs)
Support in crop production
Improved fruit trees
Support in planting, soil preparation and care
Fodder trees
Support in planting, soil preparation and care
865 goats to 90 livestock extension workers
Training in providing support to households in goat rearing, vaccination and feeding
286 sheep
62 donkeys
Support in transportation business planning and donkey care
Small shops
Support in business planning and market research. Capital and follow up were also provided.
Cattle sheds
Supplied the material and demonstrated building quake proof sheds
Provided latrine construction support and hygiene education
Community kits
Provided tool kits for men’s and women’s VCCs along with support to manage the kits for collective use
Fuel efficient stoves
Training in use and repair
Training in occupational skills
Plumbing, masonry, carpentry, electrical, tailoring, embroidery
Training in vocational skills
Linked householders with training courses at HAASHAR or other NGOs
Outcome 1:     Protection, improvement and recovery of selected livelihood lost assets of ultra-poor
Output 1a:    Increased participation by ultra-poor in maintaining and improving existing livelihoods assets.
Small shops
The project supported 25 female-headed households and 289 male-headed households to rehabilitate their small shops.
Cattle sheds
Livestock is one of the main sources of livelihood for poor men and women in KonshValley. Cattle are traditionally kept in rudimentary cattle sheds during the winter to protect them from the cold. These sheds were demolished during the earthquake.Haashar trained a group of 14 supervisors from amongst the ultra-poor community to construct earthquake-resistant cattle sheds. This group worked with 29 female-headed households and 301 male-headed households to help them build their cattle sheds. The project supplied materials.
Many households had latrines prior to the earthquake, and wanted to rebuild them to avoid long walks in the cold of winter to find a degree of privacy. Women without latrines often suffered from colds and flu and were prone to urinary tract infections. HAASHAR sub-contracted a local NGO, Society for Sustainable Development, to support build latrines and capacity on hygiene and latrine cleanliness for 63 female-headed and 227 male headed households. In addition, HAASHAR trained 90 community members as focal people to assist in hygiene education for each household.
Community tool kits
The project supplied 177 community tool kits for men and 177 for women. Kits with tools for men’s work consist of fodder cutting machines, a wheelbarrow, a plastic mat, a rope, a chisel, a spray pump and a sledge hammer. Kits for women consist of cooking pots and a mat. The kits are held at by the VCCs for ultra- poor household community use.
Output 1b:     Increased participation by ultra-poor, rural households in livestock assets by restocking livestock, feed stocks, shelters (livestock) vaccination programs and training of women in particular on improve
The project provided female goats (of the desiburberi and bettal cross varieties) to 166 female-headed households and 699 male-headed households. Prior to distribution, householders were trained by veterinary assistants and doctors (hired by the project) in livestock management techniques and disease control
Sheep and donkeys
The project provided an ewe and a ram to 20 female-headed households and 86 male-headed households. Prior to distribution, each recipient received 10 days of training from government livestock extension workers on livestock disease management. Rams earn participants about 30 rupees as a stud fee.
The project provided 62 donkeys to six female-headed households and 56 male-headed households. Donkeys were quarantined for eight days prior to distribution. They are used for transport, construction, personal transportation, and carrying drinking water.
Households usually rely on fodder from wheat, which only provides one crop. The project provided 28 kilograms of two kinds of improved and certified oat seeds to 26 female-headed and 599 male-headed households. With these seeds, households will be able to grow two fodder crops a year. The project also distributed kits with spades, hoes and sickles to participants. Through an agreement with the project, local government agriculture technicians provided training to participants, including 100 focal persons, and 77 community facilitators. The project also provided mulberry, poplar, melia and rubinia saplings to 416 households to act as fodder tree.
Fruit trees
Fruit trees are an important source of income and food in the area. Altogether the project provided 30 walnut, plum, apple, apricot, lemon and peach saplings to 47 female- and 445 male-headed households. The project introduced a protected planting model, where each household identifies a site where plants can be properly managed and protected and grows a small number of trees on it, rather than planting many trees and leaving their survival to chance. Government extension workers trained participants in cultivation techniques such as plant selection, pit construction, soil mixing and tree care. Households were organized intointerest groups for this activity and trained in tree planting and care.
Outcome 2:    Strengthened capacity of HAASHAR, village groups of ultra-poor  and local governments to plan and support gender-sensitive sustainable livelihood development in earthquake-affected areas
Output 2a:     Strengthened capacity of HAASHAR, ultra-poor village groups, and local government to plan and implement gender-sensitive SLA programming.
HAASHARCHF brought a new approach  called SLA. Prior to this, HAASHAR had worked at the community level rather than with individual poor households. CHF supported HAASHAR in this new approach through capacity building workshops, one-on-one mentoring and experiential learning during field visits. 
CHF also instituted the idea of collecting baseline and results data collection through HIPs and HOPs and managing this data in an MIS. As it stands, the MIS contains detailed data on the 6,000 partner households, including their assets, income, housing, access to land and livelihood strategies. The GIS is used identify the location of individual households, track asset distribution and note the location of institutions such as NGOs, mosques, or schools. The MIS/GIS has proven to be a strong management tool.
CHF fielded its gender specialist for three missions. She provided guidance and direction for the development of HAASHAR’s gender strategy which was followed up by a monitoring and evaluation visit to assess actions taken and lessons learned.
Ultra-poor groups
KPK still maintains a feudal system. Large landlords control the land that tenant farmers work for a stipend. The difference in class and caste between these two groups is great. Most of the ultra-poor working with the project are tenant farmers with no voice in village affairs or the social life of the community. The project specifically sought them out and provided training in asset management and household planning. More importantly the project grouped individual households into interest groups and VCCs. In these fora, ultra-poor men and women began to discuss village affairs and social issues amongst themselves. This gave them confidence to use their voice in wider arenas. Women who had restricted mobility began to meet women outside their castes and are expanding their horizons. This has increased their confidence level and helped them talk about poverty issues in their lives. Forming interest groups and VCCs also neutralized attempts on the part of dominant individuals and groups to control project assets and benefits.
The village and livelihood groups have opened opportunities. In the beginning the householders were focused on their individual needs but now they are beginning to look beyond this to the needs of the village in which they live. CBOs, traditionally led by those better off, are in some cases asking to join with the VCCs. The reconstruction project will address these dynamics to a greater extent.
Government capacity
CHF and HAASHAR have formed a number of links with government officials and technicians to build capacity. At the beginning of the project, CHF and HAASHAR provided the government with presentations on the SLA.
Prior to the project, HAASHAR did not have any agreements with the government. After January 2007, HAASHAR signed eight agreements with agriculture, livestock,and other local government units, as well as with the Animal Husbandry Training Institute. Government departments provided training, and, more saliently, were key in selecting appropriate varieties of seeds, saplings, livestock and other assets prior to training and distribution. When line agencies joined the project, they also joined the DPAC and participated in discussions there. The DPAC provided the platform for the cooperation between government line agencies at the Union Council and local level, and the project initiatives provided the rest. The SLRK project was one of the few projects in the project area to form a DPAC.
Output 2b:     Increased capacity of vulnerable groups to participate in continual agricultural and other production systems
Vocational training
The capacity of vulnerable groups to participate in production systems has increased to someextent as a result of project activities.
Participants from 165 female-headed households and 696 male-headed households were trained in tailoring. By averaging pre-earthquake incomes and through market studies that identify expected profi.. Nascent outputs from this activity include examples of five men in Chattar have taken the first steps to set up a shop in the local market to sell their wares collectively and of three women in Battal are also planning to set up a joint tailoring shop. In the outlying Neelband village in Hilkot, one woman is doing swift business because she is the only person in her village who has got any sewing training.
Women were enthusiastic to improve their bed sheet and pillow embroidery skills, especially in villages where there is an established market for these goods. Individuals in 55 female-headed households and 27 male-headed households were trained in embroidery. HAASHAR projects that participants may earn up to 1,650 rupees a month on this activity.
HAASHAR provided households with vocational and business management training. In some cases, this was based on participants’ prior knowledge and experience. In other instances, participants had no prior experience
”    30 male-headed households were trained as carpenters,
”    40 female- and 383 male-headed households were trained as masons,
”    14 female- and 184 male-headed households were trained as car drivers,
”    12 male-headed households  were trained as cooks, and
”    1 female- and 27 male-headed households  were trained as plumbers. 
Women and men trained in occupational and vocational skills started earning earlier than HAASHAR expected. Early projections indicate that income from these businesses may increase household income up to 30%. 
Livestock extension workers
The project also trained 90 livestock extension workers, 83 agriculture extension workers and 59 horticulture extension workers, one in each of their villages. In the case of livestock workers, the Peshawar branch of the animal husbandry training institute (AHAITI) provided participants with 10 days of training on animal care; the signs, symptoms and treatment of diseases; administering vaccines; and related issues. They were provided with pairs of pure-breed sheep that they will be able to sue to improve breeds in the local area.
Cross-cutting Themes: Gender and Environment
Gender Equality
The goals of this project were to recover and enhance assets lost during the earthquake, to increase ultra-poor participation in development and in their own communities and to build the capacity of HAASHAR, stakeholders and the ultra-poor in implementing a gender-sensitive approach to sustainable livelihoods. Given the challenging environment in which HAASHAR works, it is extremely difficult to reach both men and women and to achieve these goals within the framework of their own strategic and practical needs. It is also difficult to address gender issues that influence progress towards these goals. The project made moderate progress towards reaching both male and female project participants and towards addressing gender issues in sustainable livelihoods and rehabilitation, but more can be done at institutional and community levels to work towards gender equality.  
The project included a CHF gender specialist, who provided part time guidance on an ad hoc basis; a HAASHAR gender coordinator devoted full-time to the project and a number of field-level staff either dedicated to gender work or placed strategically to ensure that female project partners had access to project processes and benefits.
CHF fielded its gender specialist for three missions. She provided guidance and direction for the development of HAASHAR’s gender strategy and followed up with monitoring and evaluation to assess actions taken and lessons learned.
HAASHAR formed 19 more livelihoods committees than originally planned in order to increase women’s access to these groups. Livelihoods committees helped women to access new information regarding assets and to establish links with other women in their communities. The women’s village coordination committees provided with kits experienced an increased cohesiveness and sharing of work burdens through increased organization. Women have also become more confident and their participation has increased as a result of joining livelihoods groups. Women outside of the participant group have also expressed an interest in joining these groups There has been a limited change in attitude such that men show more understanding of women’s roles in the household and women are more included in decision-making. Home visits provide anecdotal evidence that violence against women is decreasing.
HAASHAR explains community conservatism as a major rationale in their difficulty in reaching women and changing men. This is acknowledged. Certainly there were staff recruitment problems and difficulties to reach women in purdah. Nevertheless, experience gained during the rehabilitation project provides ample interstices for working towards gender equality in the reconstruction project. 
1.1.1.    Environment
HAASHAR and CHF undertook an environmental screening in July 2007. The screening determined that the project met the requirements of Pakistan’s and Canada’s environment act. CHF’s environment specialist held an introductory workshop in July 2007 to raise awareness of environmental assessments and project requirements. HAASHAR developed training material and ran training workshops for partner households in environmental sustainability.     
HAASHAR’s roots as an NGO are in natural resource management. It took proactive steps to ensure that key issues such as soil erosion and landslides were addressed during activity implementation. Examples are provided below.   
  • The project provided training in health and hygiene before constructing household latrines.
  • Planting fruit and conifer trees in communal and individual plots can reduce soil erosion and provide more environmentally friendly sources of fire wood. Project participants learned how to prepare land and protect plantation areas without the use of large amounts of pesticides and fertilizers.
  • Agriculture activities, including fodder production, included demonstrations on how to mix fertilizers properly and how to apply pesticides properly. It is hoped that this will reduce the current over-use of these substances. In addition, new seeds, as provided by the project, require less fertilizer.
  • Kitchen gardening activities focused on using organic fertilizers and pesticides. The project taught participants how to dispose of pesticide and insecticide containers and wastes properly, and how to prepare fertilizer from organic waste and ash.
  • Preparing shelters and growing fodder for sheep, goats and cattle potentially reduces uncontrolled grazing.