Social Mobilisation is at the heart of everything we do. The principles and practices of social mobilization follow a time-honored tradition established at the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme in the 1980s by the renowned development expert Shoaib Sultan Khan and followed in all of the RSPs across Pakistan. Wherever NRSP works, whether expanding its regular core programme, implementing donor-funded projects, or responding to disasters, the principles and practices of social mobilisation remain the same. These are: establishing mutual trust; understanding that there are mutual rights and responsibilities related to accountability and transparency; observing the principle of benefitting the community at large, rather than individuals, and ensuring that the poorest and most vulnerable people are included in the programming.
We work with rural men and women to release their potential abilities and skills so as to build their knowledge and enable them decide their own development priorities. We also help people to find the resources they need to meet their identified needs. The purpose is to break the cycle of poverty, both economic poverty and ‘poverty of opportunity’. When community members come together for a common purpose – which is ultimately village-wide socio-economic development – they are in a stronger position to bring about sustainable improvements in the quality of life.
Local Support Organisations (LSOs) are central to the ‘Social Mobilisation’ approach of the National Rural Support Programme (NRSP). In a bid to reduce poverty and empower marginalized people especially women, the NRSP, Rahim Yar Khan mobilizes rural communities into a three-tiered structure, which consists of Community Organisations (COs) – neighborhood-level community groups, Village Organisations (VOs) – village level federations of COs, and LSOs – union council level federations of VOs. LSOs are able to carry out community-led development at a much greater level due to the advantage they gain from numbers. As the tertiary tier, LSOs are also uniquely able to develop linkages with government and non-government organizations, donor agencies and the private sector.