Sindh govt project succumbs to bureaucratic conspiracy
The project was shared with five prominent nongovernmental organisations (NGOs).
The News investigation revealed that the Sindh government has been facing strong criticism over poor perform1ance of its departments, especially in the rural areas and masses were the biggest victim. A World Bank’s report on the deteriorating performance of Sindh government institutions worried the rulers of the coalition government.
Sources said that after correspondence between the officials of the Sindh government, the World Bank and Unicef, many suggestions were tabled for the attention of the Sindh government for improving the performance and to ascertain the actual situation of those institutions.
Finally, the Sindh government launched the key Sindh Community Monitoring Project for Data Collection and Survey (CMPDC) for bringing institutional reforms and improvement of basic system of the departments of Education, Health, Irrigation, Local Government, and Works & Services and technical and financial support was sought from Unicef while the Sindh government also allocated special funds for the project. The project was supposed to continue for a minimum of three years and maximum five years while its trial period was 12 months, which was lunched in January 2006 and was handed over to the Chief Minister’s Inspection, Inquiries & Implementation Team (CMIT).
According to sources five prominent nongovernmental originations of Sindh —- the Sindh Graduates Association (GSA), the Health and Nutrition Development Society (HANDS), the Sindh Taraqqi Pasand Mallah Tanzeem (STPMT), the Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai Welfare Society (SALBWS) and the IRC – were assigned the task of executing the project in all the districts of Sindh, except the newly created ones. The NGOs also provided technical staff who were inducted in the project.
For eight staffers of each district, in which a project coordinator, a monitoring coordinator, four field coordinators separately for Health, Education, Irrigation, Works and Services, including office boy and sweeper, honoraria of Rs 15,000, 10,000, 7,000 and 3,000 for the last two categories, respectively, were fixed.
According to sources, the HANDS was given four districts – Hyderabad, Dadu, Larkana and Jacobabad – while the STPMT was given coastal districts of Badin and Thatta, the SGA was assigned the districts of Mirpurkhas, Tharparkar, Mithi, Sukkur, and Ghotki while the IRC and the SALBWS were given the remaining districts.
The project staff was first trained by the registered consultants of the Sindh government – the RASTA Development Consultants. A senior activist of an NGO told this scribe that as the project kicked off, it was found fruitful for both people of Sindh and its deteriorating institutions regarding capacity building and reforms. He attributed the initial success to the absence of political or bureaucratic intervention.
A key official of the Sindh government admitted on condition of anonymity that after the launching of the project positive development was witnessed as the system started improving gradually in those departments, especially the Education and Health departments, were closer to a revolution at the grassroots level, as many closed primary schools and basic health units started to reopen after the project’s teams started their work of conducting raids, surveys, evolutions, monitoring and collecting data according to their assignment.
Official sources revealed that through data collection forms startling facts and figures regarding closure of many primary, elementary, and secondary schools as well as basic health units emerged concerning the rural areas, especially remote areas of interior Sindh. Reports about worse conditions of those institutions in Mirpurkhas and its adjoining districts, hometown of the Sindh chief minister, were disliked by high-ups. However, according to sources, a series of conspiracies to fail the project were hatched at the bureaucratic level in the first year of the project. Firstly, hurdles were created by stopping funds, which badly disturbed to the entire project and its smooth running.
According to the same sources, later a senior police officer of Sindh, who is known for his anti-NGO views, was appointed on the CMIT by replacing DIG Farooque Amin Qureshi, who managed all affairs of the project by implementing his own policy instead of the one approved by the Sindh government. According to sources, later the process of rejecting all data collection forms, submitted by project coordinators, monitoring coordinators and field coordinators of the five NGOs from all the 24 districts, started on frivolous grounds and also they were accused of delay in the process of presenting such forms, which was according to them illogical.
According to sources, in the middle of the year their salaries were stopped by the CMIT by giving false reason of lack of funds. According to them despite such hurdles all the NGOs tried to save the project by paying salaries to their staffers but the wages were not released for five months, which badly affected the working of the project.
Finally, an official announcement was made in October 2006 for the project’s closure.
This correspondent tried many times to get the version of the police officer by phone but there was no reply.
The office-bearers of the NGOs confirmed to this scribe that they have been trying to arrange a meting with the Sindh chief secretary about the matter, which is expected to be held in a few days and they would try to restart the project as it is vital to bringing reforms in the deteriorating institutions.
Source: The News