The success of rural development depends upon the willingness and active participation of the local community in the development process. To ensure such participation, NGOs carry out extensive social mobilization activities within communities to raise awareness on sensitive issues. Social Mobilization is a cornerstone for participatory approach in rural development and poverty alleviation programs as it aims to create a sense of ownership amongst the people by involving them directly in the decision making process. Acknowledging the strong need and importance of social mobilization, the Capacity Institutionalization Team at Community World Service Asia held a five-day residential workshop on Social Mobilization this July in a hill-station training center in Murree. This training was offered to community mobilizers, social organizers and staff members of mid to small NGOs.
Twenty-five participants from different religious backgrounds belonging to interior Sindh, Punjab and KPK provinces attended the five-day workshop. The participants came in with the expectation to raise unanswered questions and provide their input on Social Mobilization and its methods, as a part of the learning process. Techniques on effective leadership skills, communication skills, social analysis, problem analysis were taught through plenary sessions, individual readings, group discussions, group presentations, role-plays, energizers, presentations, and video clips. This learning opportunity provided the participants with crucial tools to recognize issues within a society and how to effectively address them. Muhammad Bilal, a participant said, ‘this training has given us a lot of knowledge regarding community development/participation and how to effectively use tools to successfully implement our project goals and activities.’
Syed Moazzam Ali, the trainer for the event, with an extensive experience of conducting trainings with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), government institutions, communities and educational institutions across Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh ensured that the training remained as interactive and participatory as possible. Moazzam has been associated with leading Rights-based organizations such as Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and Amnesty International.
The main focus of the training being “social mobilization”, it included in depth session on the definition of a community and qualities of a good mobilizer, tiers of social mobilization, problem analysis and social analysis. In addition, there were many subtopics under the broader category such as, “development”, which included definition and types of development and philosophy and approaches to participatory development. Another underlying topic was “cross cutting themes,” including concepts on caring about the vulnerable in the process of social mobilization and the role of suppressed minority groups such as women, children, people with HIV/Aids, trans-gender and disabled. The participants felt that this was an excellent choice of topics as one participant Shazia Lal stated, ‘I had no idea what is social/community mobilization but specially learning and attending this workshop has deepened my knowledge and learning.’ Overall, the training has shown positive results, with 92% of the participants claiming that their expectations from the training were met. In addition, the post-test scores showed a 70% improvement in topic based knowledge compared to the pre-tests.
At the last session of the workshop, all participants were awarded certificates for successfully completing the five-day training; this also formally closed the training. In addition, Mr. Moazzam thanked Community World Service Asia for organizing this training, and gave his contact details to the participants for any follow-up questions on the workshop to ensure its sustainability.
Nazmeen, one of the participants, reflected, “After coming here, I realized that the concepts we are learning are very important for constructing our society. It has shown me how I should live in a society and how to support others. Furthermore, the things we take for granted and sometimes ignore actually end up being harmful for the society. Alone we are nothing, we have strength in numbers and that support from people is what constructs a good society. This is what I have learned from this training. I am fully equipped with the basic principles of developing a society, and what our responsibilities are in building such a society.”