Winding up NCHD is a bad idea : ALEEM SAMOO Nagarparkar

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Winding up NCHD is a bad idea : ALEEM SAMOO Nagarparkar letter to DAWN dated 26-7-2011
THIS is apropos of the news item ‘Jobs perish in sight of parliament’ (June 23, 2011).
The decision to wind up the National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) has set another bad precedent of inconsistency in public planning and policies.
This inconsistency spanning four decades has shattered the confidence of people, hampered the process of economic growth and social development, and sacrificed long-term interests for short-term gains. As a result, we, South Asia’s fast-growing economy in the 1960s, are nowadays lagging behind most African countries.
It takes a great deal of collective endeavour to establish, develop and mobilise an organisation. The NCHD took nearly a decade of organic process based on learning to evolve as a national organisation. There may be weakness, which tends to exist in every viable organisation, but none can deny three main strengths of the NCHD.
One, it succeeded in developing its reach to almost every corner of the country. This access enabled the NCHD to develop and train a base of human resources that worked voluntarily in development initiatives and emergency situations.
More than often groups of local men and women trained by the NCHD were visible in rescue operations in the aftermath of earthquakes, flood and other emergencies, and mobilising parents in far-flung villages to enroll their children in elementary classes. Such a rapport with communities otherwise deprived of mainstream development has a great worth if utilised to bridge the gap of the haves and havenots.
Two, the NCHD provided an operational structure for public-private partnership. Some of its components were supported by the UNDP and corporate entities such as Shell Pakistan. By its design, the NCHD was an integrated programme that required switching its fiscal reliance to the private sector in a step-ladder fashion. This transformation was a challenge that needed to be dealt with due effort and spirit.
It sounds strange that one functioning organisation is being winded up at a time when donors complain of not finding appropriate operational structures with the capacity to invest resources at the grassroots level. Besides, a good part of the budget allocated for education and health lapses unspent.
Three, the current fiscal policy underscores the need for targeted subsidies. The NCHD can provide the best conduit for identifying deserving communities, particularly in the area of health and education.
Rather than wiping out, the NCHD needs restructuring and a new set of rules of engagement in line with the devolution of health and education to provinces. It is encouraging that Sindh has adopted the organisation; other provinces also need to objectively appraise the logic of NCHD’s existence as a development organisation. ALEEM SAMOO Nagarparkar

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