A Report Baanhn Beli Annual General Body Meeting held on January 14, 2015 at Baanhn Beli office Mithi District Tharparkar
Members of Baanhn Beli call for community-centered consultations on development and reiterate local capacity to combat drought if timely, appropriate actions are taken by Government and other relevant sectors.
Annual General Body meeting of Baanhn Beli attended by over 90 members held in Mithi on 14th January 2015.
Travelling from 9 other locations inside Thraparkar and from other parts of lower Sindh, to Mithi, a total of 90 members of Baanh Beli participated in the 28th annual general body meeting of the organization held at the Baanh Beli office on 14th Jan 2015.
Members comprised 62 men and 28 women. They represented local units of the organization in Umerkot, Chachro, Mithi, Islamkot, Nagarparkar, Diplo, Tando Kolachi, Mirpurkhas, Hyderabad, Karachi.
Through their active participation in the meeting, members contributed their own individuals, local experiences during the recent and ongoing drought conditions within Tharparkar. Members from outside Tharparkar also shared their respective experiences over the past 12 months since the previous annual meeting.
Both before the meeting and after the meeting, the founding president of Baanhn Beli, Senator (r) Javed Jabbar, the current President Faiz Muhammad Junejo, other senior members and staff visited Umerkot and Nangarparkar as well as villages such as Sabusan, close to the Rann of Kach to meet with Members residing in those locations and to review at first hand various projects in the sectors of water supply, health care, education, income generation etc which are being implemented by Baanhn Beli with the support of partners such as The Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, FAFEN, and other donors.
The meeting approved the Minutes of the previous agm held in Nangarparkar in January 2014 and reviewed identified several actions required to implement the work plan for 2015. Members also reviewed and approved the statement of audited accounts and appointed auditors for the current financial year.
As the term of the present Executive Committee for 2013-14 has concluded, it was decided to hold elections for the new Executive Committee for the term 2015-16 on 15th February 2015 in Hyderabad. Miss Ayesha Kolachi was appointed as the Cheif Election Officer and Ghulam Rasool Kalmaty and the founding president as Members of the Election Committee.
At the start of meeting, Fateha was offered for the soul of Mr Abdul Raheem Rahimoo the late father of senior Member, M. Achaar and for the victims of the Peshawar School tragedy.
Other Members who spoke at the agm included : Aleem Soomro, Professor Mushtaq, Arbab Nek Muhammad, Dr H.B Kolachi, Gohram Baloch, Muhammad Jaman, Muhammad Ramzan, Mrs Naaju, Mumtaz Noorio, Ayesha Kolachi, Miss Hajiani and others.
Full time staff officials who also spoke at the agm : Younus Bandhani, Director; M.K Marri, Project Manager, Nangarparkar; M Zubair, Finance Manager and others.
On the following principal elements there was a consensus :
Actions by the government and non-governmental organizations should be formulated and implemented on the basis of extensive consultation with communities at the village and union council level. The tendency to take decisions influenced by partisan influences and by holders of public office should be discouraged to ensure optimal relief for all affectees, regardless of political, caste, religious or gender criteria.
In the continuing absence of elected Local Bodies, special effort should be made communicate with the grass roots level at the grass roots level, rather than summon the community leaders to power centers such as the district head quarter at Mithi etc.
While the root cause of the route-related crisis is the shortage of water, food and fodder (for livestock). due to lack of rainfall there was also a concern that the other causes resulting in deaths of infants and children require urgent attention and are not always being acted upon. Theses other causes comprise, marriage of girls and women at premature age; male nourishment of women in general and pregnant women in particular; lack of convenient access to trained para medical and medical staff; tendency to bring mothers and infants to hospitals and health centers with crucial delays; very low weight of infants at birth and premature delivery; diseases suffered by both pregnant women and infants such as sepsis, pneumonia, diphtheria, etc;
Strengthening of existing, community based maternal and child health centers and opening of several new such low cost centers in already-existing but under-used, under-staffed BHUs (Basic Health Units) and RHCs (Rural Health Centres ) instead of relying mainly on large district-level, taluka-level hospitals to which access for women living in remote villages is still difficult and expensive. Members referred to the good examples of such community-based centers being operated by Baanhn Beli in Nangarparkar taluka as models that can be replicated elsewhere. It was suggested that Baanhn Beli should resume its previous services of periodically conducting mobile dispensaries to far-flung villages.
While appreciating the role of media in highlighting tragic deaths of infants due to various causes, Members stressed that the gradual developments of physical infrastructure in Tharparkar, the impacts of Islamkot becoming a new “coal capital town” with attendant changes in the local economy, the expansion of the services sector related to coal and other projects and the cumulative impact of work being rendered by several State institution and NGOs also deserve to be covered by media. Presently, people outside Tharparkar perceive the region only in terms of extreme suffering, deaths and backwardness. Where as there are many indicators of positive changes during the past 20 years and due to the abiding values of compassion, joint families etc not a single case of the death of even one human being due to starvation is known to the Members who live in all parts of Tharparkar.
While the severe shortage of female teachers, female doctors and female para medics continues to be major reason for the girls and women remaining deprived of education and health care at the primary, secondary and higher level, there is nevertheless justification for a campus of the university of sindh to be opened in Mthi. This will enable hundreds of youth to acquire higher education without forcing their families to incur heavy costs of travel and prolong stay far away from their homes.
Some anomalies were pointed out : a literate women who migrates from her original home area after marriage to another taluka or area is not held eligible for appointment as teacher nearly because she does not have a domicile certificate in her new place of residence.
The demand for milk from livestock in Tharparkar for purchase by agents of large milk distributing businesses and the impact of livestock that has already migrated means that while buying agents procure milk at only riupees 30 or rupees 40 at the village level, milk is being sold in Mithi at rupees 80 to rupees 100 per kg. Thus, children and women in villages no longer have easy, convenient access to milk-on-the-spot ! now, there are sights of men walking from Mithi back to their villages carrying plastic bags of milk and yogurt purchased at a high price at Mithi !.
On the Badin-Islamkot sector in which a new road is being constructed to facilitate the development of the coal reserves, the contractors do not employ local residents. About 300 persons have been brought in from outside even though local labour is available.
There are several projects and facilities including research centers, vocational training centers, cattle farms etc which are lying unused and dormant due to negligence and apathy of both the Government and the communities.
There is disturbing increase in the open availability of addictive products such as ghutka, raw liquor and new brand names such as “2100”, “Zafri”, etc. This open sale is having an adverse effect on youth and on people in general without effective, preventive measures being taken by the authorities.
There is a need for the community based organizations (CBOs) of Baanhn Beli to provide, on a regular base accurate data on the status of livestock, negative trends such a s increase in supply of narcotics, welfare of the people etc all reports should be well researched and based on facts rather than rumors. They should hold dialogues with local officials and actively participate in forums such as Constituency Relations Groups (CRGs) to promote courteous, non combative transparency and accountability