INFOTERRA: On Community

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>Date: Thu, 31 Jul 1997 14:56:14 +0500 (GMT+0500)
>From: Postmaster Islamabad <root@sdnpk.undp.org>
>To: INFOTERRA <infoterra@cedar.univie.ac.at>
>Subject: INFOTERRA: CBOs Long Ago (fwd)
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>Another piece from Prof. Kango which he has especially written for the
>Infoterra mailing list.
>-The Postmaster
>Sustainable Development Networking Programme,   Phone: 051-270684,270691
>PO Box 3099, House 26, Street 87, G-6/3,        Fax: 051-270688
>Islamabad 44000, Pakistan.                      email: root@sdnpk.undp.org
>---------- Forwarded message ----------
>Date: Wed, 30 Jul 1997 08:46:07
>From: kanga@pind.sdnpk.undp.org
>To: root@sdnpk.undp.org
>Subject: CBOs Long Ago
>CBOs Long Ago
>Not very long ago, I had an opportunity to go to one of  Maryland
>Farm (USA) to buy some strawberries; as say farm fresh supplies. We
>were told to have a pick of our choice and that we did. While on the
>counter, When I asked the farmer as to why he did  not take the
>produce to market and get a better price. His reply was simple. The
>economics do not work. The picking charges were high and
>transportation, too costly. People come here with families, enjoy
>country side, breathe fresh air and have strawberries of their
>choice. `You know, with children, they do more picking than they
>would normally buy. Add to our sells, eh!', says the farmer.
>This shows how the communities have led to individualism in highly
>developed countries like the United States of America, the most
>favoured nation of the world. It was not so in this country when I
>was young, but the tradition is being buried in the back yard due to
>economic reasons.
>The community based organization in a village was a cohesive one and
>was composed of one family; not as in America, where there was rush
>to occupy as much land as possible; and place posters like `Private
>Property', `Trespassing not Allowed', etc. These were individual
>family farms and were not aware of association: in grief or in
>happiness. Sharing grief reduces the grief and sharing the happiness
>increases the happiness. This was the motto adopted in the Eastern
>Countries, particularly Islam, the religion confirming the earlier
>religions, made one follower as the brother of other follower.
>The best example of cooperation was the assembly at the community
>mosque, five times a day; and once a week at area mosque. A mosque is
>like a church, but is not used for hearing sermons, singing psalms or
>confessions. The mosque acts as a meeting place; where after giving
>thanks to God, community matters (not gossips) are discussed and
>decisions made. The priest is not necessarily the president of the
>community. The agenda depends upon the circumstances, needs and
>I headed a On-farm Water Management (OFWM) Programme for about eight
>years. This provided for water users association at water course
>level, federation at minor canal level and apex organization at major
>canal level or irrigation district. This programme was funded by US
>Agency for International Development (US-AID) at pilot phase level
>and one of the components was a research in water users association
>concept. We knew that a watercourse was a community responsibility,
>as it was already maintained by it, we tried to give it a legal
>cover. We drafted ordinance with the help of professionals from
>agriculture, irrigation and law under the guidance of Dr. Radozevich
>from America and got them through the provincial governors.
>Afterwards, the project was picked up by the World Bank, Asian
>Development Bank (ADP), International Fund for Agricultural
>Development (IFAD), Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and OECF
>of Japan. However the Bank has remained the major donor and insists
>OFWM component in every water-related project.
>The sustainability issue has raised its head because the institution
>has not evolved from the people. Any effort from top down, like
>integrated rural development prgramme, has fallen flat; and all the
>ordinances, not enacted so far, have lapsed. The activity has
>reverted back to its original concept of `clearing the watercourse of
>silt' is back. The purpose was to provide technical literacy to
>maintain the watercourses; which is there in the shape of precast
>individual outlets.
>Long ago, during the closure season, when major canals were dried up
>for maintenance, the community announced a day for silt clearance.
>The people gathered with their own spades and tools, earmarked
>reaches for the sake of competition and the winner team was crowned.
>They had lunch together with the drum beaters in attendance.
>In Baluchistan, the water is transported through under ground tunnel
>called Karez. The principle of Karez is to dig a mother well at the
>foot of the hill. If water is found, vertical shafts are dug in line
>and connected with the mother well. This is continued till water
>comes to surface in the valley to be irrigated. With tubewells coming
>and over exploitation of underground water, most of these Karez have
>dries up and got out of use. There are fights between the individuals
>and the government intervention has become necessary. Besides little
>thought is being given to prospects when the ground water resources
>When tractor was yet unknown to the farmer; as even today the
>agriculture is not mechanized in this country, as it should be, the
>seed-bed preparation in time was beyond the reach of an individual
>farmer. If he depended on his pair of bullocks (his traction power),
>he would lose a great area of his crop. He would give a call to other
>farmers, who would respond willingly and come with their own bullocks
>and ploughs to help. They would continue to sing songs, reminding
>themselves of old day's mutual cooperation and have their lunch
>together and chat merrily. This increased mutual love and affection.
>Likewise, at the harvesting time, a call would bring hordes of men,
>women and children. The men would cut and the women would bind. Men
>would be helped by women to carry bundles on their head and the
>children would relish the residue. The was no post-harvest loss,
>because the farmer would not allow the crop to be over mature. Even
>the leftovers would be picked by children. It was their pocket prize.
>The social needs were given more weightage than the individual
>economic compulsions. For example, if any one to reconstruct the
>house, others provided material help. At the time of marriage, every
>household contributed in cash and kind. The guests came from far off
>places. They were taken care of jointly by all. Even a guest who came
>to stay with a family was invited others for meals, so much so that
>the guest had only his first meal at the house.
>Now that we have hotels in every city, and restaurants and tea shops
>along every high way, we are well off when we have money in our
>pockets. In olden days, the wayfarer had to go a long way to reach
>his destination. At every resting place there was a community place
>called Autaq, maintained by the head of community. Muslims treat a
>guest a favour from God, besides the family also gets excellent food
>on the table. This Autaq was a community centre
>where young and old met in the evening. Some times brought food from
>their houses when there was a guest or a traveler  around ,and had it
>in company. Afterwards they would sit, listen to the traveler's tales
>and entertain him with local jokes and music.
>The life was better long ago. The technological developments have no
>doubt provided many gadgets of daily use and entertainment, but these
>are no substitute for the physical exercise from manual work. If it
>was drudgery before, it is mental fatigue now. The number of
>psychopaths is on the increase. The man is left with no time. The
>time left to him is to drink and dance, and to forget the worries for
>a while.
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Best Wishes,

Douglas B. Johnson, Ph.D.

Outreach Specialist, Quality of Life Project
Consortium for Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (CSARE)
c/o The Program on Agricultural Technology Studies
The Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems
1450 Linden Drive, Room 146
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI 53706
phone/fax:      (608) 262-9997
email:              djohnso2@facstaff.wisc.edu