Kathmandu, November 14:

Following an overwhelming success in reducing poverty through demand-driven community programmes, Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF) is set to expand its reach to additional 75,000 households in the next three years.

This was revealed at a workshop on ‘review and sharing of experience of innovative projects for PAF’s future programming’ on Tuesday.

PAF, an autonomous organisation, established with a view to run pilot projects to reduce extreme poverty in the country, has already covered 75,940 households in 25 districts in one and half year since its inception in 2004, said Raj Babu Shrestha, executive director of PAF. Initially, PAF selected six pilot districts and later it expanded its programmes to 19 more districts with financial support from World Bank under an IDA grant of $15 million. The World Bank has already agreed to extend a grant support to the tune of $25 million and PAF plans to reach to 150,000 households by 2008-9.

According to him, the demand-driven community-based programmes have been found to be more effective in reducing extreme poverty from the grassroots level.

He opined that such programmes have a better impact on socio-economic conditions of the poor and excluded section of the society.

Besides 25 programme districts, PAF has also been implementing innovative programmes in other districts to raise the living standard of the target community by adopting innovative concepts, ideas, process and technology, he added. “The workshop will assess achievements made under Nepal Development Market Place-2005 and PAF supported innovative projects, and gain feedback on how PAF’s programmes be directed in future,” Shrestha said. He noted that the workshop would also identify adoptable experiences, and recommend for PAF’s future programming for innovative projects.

Stating that the recent political change is a great success for furthering development activities, Dr Mohan Man Sainju, vice-chairperson of PAF, underscored the need for socio-economic transformation to be prioritised in making a new Nepal. “This needs an overhauling of the development process with a great sense of accountability and transparency at all levels,” he added.

Dr Sainju expressed that PAF activities would be realised to promote inclusiveness and decentralisation, while enabling poor women, dalits, Janjatis, and other vulnerable groups to gain access to resources for their productive self-employment and to undertake income-generating activities for poverty alleviation.

Rajiv Upadhaya, senior external affairs specialist at WB, Kathmandu lauded the partnership of the World Bank and PAF activities as one of the most successful projects in Nepal.

“PAF has proved itself by reaching the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups even during the time of political uncertainty and conflict,” he said.

Upadhaya added that a supplementary grant of $25 million is being provided to PAF for its hard work and innovative activities in community-led development practices.

Bhagawati Kafle, secretary at the ministry of local development, however, emphasised on the need of harmonizing various development activities being carried out by the government, NGOs/INGOs and the private sector.

Many programmes at many places have been found to be overlapping, due to lack of coordination between the government and donor agencies, he added.

“As a result, development activities have exceeded the actual need at some places, whereas many places suffer from deficit of budget and activities,” said Kafle, adding that participation of local bodies and representatives should be encouraged to yield better results.

Dr Madan Pariyar, social inclusion expert, PAF said that the three-day workshop has together about 100 participants of PAF partner organisations and community organisations, and the World Bank funded Nepal Development Market Place 2005.