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‘In-kind grants’: Malakand villagers back on their feet

January 27, 2013

PESHAWAR, Jan 26: The ‘in-kind micro grants’ have helped the militancy-affected residents of hundreds of Malakand villages regain economic productivity with many surpassing their previous income levels.

The average household income in nine militancy-hit union councils of Malakand that were selected to restore livelihood of the affected communities have exceeded their pre-conflict income levels by 3.4 times, according to an official of a provincial development agency.

“This finding is based on the third party post-project assessment carried out in line with the donor agency’s requirements,” said an economic analyst of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.

Agriculture inputs, livestock items, and trade/skill tools, according to the post-project impact assessment report, were distributed among 7,200 families of 233 villages in nine union councils of Swat.

The worst-affected unions that formed the project areas included Baidara, Gawalarai, Kooz Banda, Bar Aba Khel, Kala Kalay, Shah Derai, CHarbagh, Kuz Aba Khel, and Totano Bandai. USAID provided a total of $1.8 million assistance to restore livelihood in the militancy-hit regions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

A large number of Malakand families, said the official, lost livelihood after they left their homes and headed to safer places outside Malakand, leaving their standing crops, livestock, and small businesses unattended for several months.

According to the project impact assessment report, the average household income rose to Rs9,642 per month in the project area, growing from the average pre-conflict income level of Rs2,875 per month.

The target community, said the official, were provided seeds, goats, sheep, and sewing machines. Twenty-three per cent of the recipients of the in-kind grants were women, making a total of 1,662 females out of 7,200 individuals/families who were extended support under the project.

However, the project had its shortcomings.

The average income level of families / individuals who received trade / skill tools remained less than the average anticipated level that was arrived at following the 1st cycle of distribution of the in-kind grants. The project activities were completed in six months, from July 1 to Dec 31, 2010 following which the impact assessment was carried out and its final report compiled last year.

According to the report, the average income of the families provided with ‘enterprise package’ stood at Rs4,867 per month in the post-project period. The project team had anticipated it to be Rs6,189 per family per month.

“The reason for the fall in the average income earnings for the skills related tools is because of the fall in labor requirements as the intensity of the reconstruction work has tapered off by the end of 2011,” noted the post project impact assessment report.

However, the average income of Rs4,867 per month, according to the report, has exceeded the pre-conflict average monthly income of the said group by over Rs1,500 per month.

Similarly, the families who were provided with ‘agriculture package’ and ‘agriculture & livestock mix package’ have exceeded their previous average income levels.

One village committee members, according to the report, informed the impact assessment team that some goats (provided as in-kind grants) died because of disease.

In their analysis, the report writers have said: “There is however no conclusive evidence of any specific reason(s) for the mortality of these goats in some of these areas; the possible reasons could be failure by the vendor/supplier to properly vaccinate, de-worm and quarantine the goats.”

In this respect, the impact assessment team has recommended that some mechanism needs to be developed for future identical projects thereby the vendors/suppliers providing livestock should be subjected to technical controls by ‘all stakeholder with regard to proper quarantine arrangements, vaccinations and de-worming of the animals prior to delivery.’