Currently the entire world is facing the challenge of striking the most appropriate balance between well-being and sustainability in development. Different development models have been conceptualized, tested and promoted by different researchers, practitioners and institution. In all the models “Governance” is considered as a crucial factor to make well-being and sustainability a reality. To ensure well-being of people is complicated as it goes beyond mere economic development and enhancing quality of life. The systems and processes should recognize and value the needs and aspirations of different categories of the society to ensure well-being and sustainability. Active involvement of community in development decision-making process is seen as a key underlying principle in sustainable development.
“Community Governance” is a concept that has been evolved over the last two decades.
Practical Action initiated a five year project called “Community Governance in Infrastructure Services in South Asia” in 2009. This project was co-financed by the European Union and being implemented in Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan. The project aims at building the capacities of local governance systems to mainstream participation of poor and vulnerable men and women in consultative and decision-making processes. The project recognizes “Local Governments” as the most appropriate formal governance structure in South Asia where community participation can be mainstreamed. The project has been designed to develop, practice and disseminate innovative mechanisms on community governance in South Asia. In Pakistan, the project is being implemented in partnership with Rural Policy Development Institute (RDPI), a long standing partner of Practical Action.
The 18th constitutional amendment in Pakistan marked a turning point in the process of decentralization of decision-making processes. According to the 18th amendment, the Provincial Governments have been given more decision-making powers and the responsibility of “Local Governance” has been completely devolved to provincial governments. This can be seen as a window of opportunity for Pakistan to capitalize on and make an exemplary “Local Governance System” in which active and meaningful community participation can be mainstreamed and demonstrated. The lessons from Pakistan and rest of the South Asia will be very beneficial in this exercise.
Under the project, “Community Governance in Infrastructure Services in South Asia”, Practical Action and Rural Development Policy Institute (RDPI) consider it is timely and important to trigger a dialogue among civil society in Pakistan on the “Community Governance” during the process of development of locally appropriate provincial local governance policies in the country. This publication is developed as a “base paper” to trigger such a wider discussion and it will contribute to the process and dialogues on developing a locally appropriate local governance policy in all provinces of Pakistan.