Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO) is implementing a one-yearproject titled “Enhancing Capacities for Transparent and Accountable Local Governance” from 31st March 2015 under Citizen’s Voice Project (CVP) grant 07, funded by USAID in District Malir, Thatta and Badin. The project envisioned to build the capacity of the Politicians and Community Based Organizations (CBOs) in the field of Freedom of Information (FOI), District Budget Tracking and Advocacy & Lobbying.
Three district roundtables were organized in targeted districts of Malir, Thatta and Badin with representatives of key government department officials, community based organizations and politicians from PPP, PML-N and PML-F. The overall objective of the activity aimed at focusing and achieving tangible outputs from the interaction of Charter of Demands on the departments of prime concern such as health, education, LG& RD, Women Development and PHED. Diverse project’s activities such as baseline-end line assessment, TNA, Training on Sindh FOI-ACT 2006, District Budget Training& Advocacy for Practice, Follow-ups meetings for implementation of action plans, Facilitation in handling complaints and information requests to ombudsman offices and public departments are context of charter of demands presented and discussed in detail endeavoring toexplore the opportunities for ensuring access of the citizens to these services without any delays and corruption involved. Local capacitated civil society members interacted with these departments of prime concern for smooth service delivery of these departments improved local governance.
District Roundtableswere held from 27thto 29thof January 2016 in Districts of Malir, Thatta and Badin. Key Government Officials and representatives from Education and Literacy department, Health, Social Welfare, Population Welfare Department, Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) andregional ombudsman participated the events to respond the community based charter of demands for effective services delivery. Besides Local media participation to cover the event the trained and targeted CBOs and Politicians of PPP, PML-N and PML-F actively presented their quires, concerns and recommendations for entertaining freedom of information at local level as the fundamental human right. District Roundtable were started with the recitation of Holy Quran and introduction of participants of targeted CBOs and Politicians. After introduction of participants, Program Specialist Ms. Raheema Panhwar shared CVP project’s major activities and their expected outcomes with the participants. In addition to it, major issues suffered by the CBOs and Politicians were highlighted to support local communities in order to benefit from Sindh Freedom of Information Act, 2006 in letter and spirit.
It was shared that CVP project aimed at developing capacity of targeted CBOs and Political Parties of project targeted districts on right of information based on the Sindh Freedom of Information ACT-2006 that imparts right to every citizen to ask for information from public and private departments subject to certain constraints. It was shared that provincial level coordination meetings would be held in the month of February with senior officials of five departments of education, health, women development, social welfare and local government of government of Sindh.
Different focal persons expressed plight over the lack of the support and denial of rights as routine and in result people are seeing to the non-civilian institutions for access to justice. Issues of corruption in education, public health engineering, water supply and sewerage, highway, health, police, and local administrations were raised by the representatives of CBOs, Political Parties of Badin, Thatta and Malir with concerned government officials that were covered by local media.
Specific Issues and recommendations raised by Badin CBOs and Politicisms
Focal person from Regional Ombudsman Office Badin shared that due to the capacity building process by SPO, 16 applications has been submitted in office. We call the applicants for hearing and issue of the street was solved in Golarchi and follow ups are given for information request from town committee. Mr. Hajan Kori, representative of Baghal Association shared his three issues on which he has submitted to ombudsman office on issues of lack of irrigation water, repair of road and spray for malaria. Mr. Ali Murad, General Secretary LEADS, Badin shared the issues he has submitted in application on lack of water supply besides fitted line and allocation of budget. Mr. Shahnawaz Siyal of Sindh Tarqi Passant Party shared that drainage Naala is not functional due to the houses of most important political personalities. The issue of this Naala is pending beside work done and budget used but now railway is asking for 2.4 million. Dr. Aziz Khaskhely, President of Hasrat Development Organization, UC Seerani shared that there is dispensary in Seerani adjacent to coastal belt but without any doctor. One young boy died due to the absence of doctor in the dispensary. Application was given to ombudsman office now dispensary is operational. Road from Badin to Seerani was built but after rains it was destroyed;now request has been made to design the road from Seerani to Badin and from Seerani and Bhugra Memon for the convenience of common citizens. SMSsis not working well and in result school is lacking basic facilities and in this regard application has been submitted to ombudsman office. Here Patwaris make PC-1, fake doctors are active in market, schemes are planned without feasibility and practices of public related departments are corrupt. Mr. Waseem, Regional Director Population Department shared that population welfare centers are not functional. DEO elementary Mr. Muhammad Aslam Pathan, Deputy DEO shared that doors should be knocked of the ombudsman office for proper functionality of the SMSs. Copy of the Sindh Freedom of Information ACT 2006, should be distributed in public departments. Census should be held to plan and allocate the resources properly. Mr. Abdul Qadir Chandio, Deputy Director Social Welfare Badin appreciated the efforts of SPO for the promotion of transparency and accountability at level. He shared that we Govt. officials never think that they are accountable to the citizens so such initiatives needs to be carried out at all levels so Govt. officials and politicians may realize their responsibilities Mr. Lal Dino, A.E.N Public Health Department in the response of issues related to nonfunctional water supply schemes in Talukas Badin and Golarchi said that many water filter plants schemes were given competed under federal Govt. schemes; however, schemes were completed by Department but complete funds were not released by federal Govt. that’s why schemes are still nonfunctional despite many letters were written to federal Govt. in this regard. Mr. Iqbal, sub engineer PHED assured that they will again send a letter to federal Govt. for the issuance of funds.
Specific Issues and recommendations raised by Thatta CBOs and Politicians
Mr. Haneef Memon, District President Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz expressed plight over the lack of the support and denial of rights as routine, resulting in people arelooking towards the non-civilian institutions for access to justice. Mr. Raza Khushk, politician from PML-N shared that highway department has built road of half KM with budget of 200 million that was not actually the mandate of highway department. Dhol Daria Khan Park is yet not complete without any obvious reasons. Muhammad Qasim Bhatti, Taluka President PPP called Ombudsman office irresponsible like other public departments. Mr. Abdul Qadir Lashari, Coordinator WHDT (Web for Human Development) Thatta complained that an applicant is not responded by ombudsman as per law. Ms. Almas Shazia, Political worker of PML-N called for show cause notices against those officials who did not responsibly respond to common citizen in implementation of this law. She was the point of view that civil society including all political parties must protest against officials who did not join today’s important event. It’s very clear that they don’t consider themselves accountable to the common people. It was also shared that government officials are not aware about laws of Sindh freedom of information act. There is lack of implementation of law due to the lack of awareness.
Ms. Bakhtawar Lashari from Bakhtawar Women Development Organization, Mr. Riaz Jillani from Human Ancillary Social Organization, Mr. Khuda Bux Lashari from Karampur Welfare Development Organization shared the process and issues met during summation of their applications and complaints on ghost schools, teachers, water supply and law and order situation in presence of government officials.
M. Ghulam Murtaza, Assistant Registrar, Regional Director Ombudsmen Thatta discussed the status of complaints submitted by CBOs and Politicians. He ensured the participants that issues would be solved as per law and issues are being solved for those who follow their cases with keen interests. Officials can be dismissed if law is not followed. Every applicant is given importance if application is not in court. He offered CBOs and politicians to visit his office from9th to 11th February 2016 for resolution of their applications/issues. Mr. Khuda Bakhsh Bahrani, Deputy District Officer Social Welfare appreciated the contribution of SPO in order to raise awareness among communities and political parties on Access to information. He shared with participants that our district is behind in all development indicators so we need to work together to improve the situation.
Specific Issues and recommendations raised by Malir CBOs and Politicians
During the roundtable of district Malir, Mr. Sami Memon, Journalist and social activist shared that District Malir is hub of the issues related with education, health, water supply and local government. Mr. Aslam Memon, Chairman KRN (Karachi Rural network) shared that as per survey by KRN more than 210 schools are not functional, water supply and sewerage lines are connected, one teacher is allocated for five classes, plans are made in closed rooms, there is no public participation in planning and budget making process, covers of the gutters are not placed, 99% government hospital are not functional, No DDO is available in Malir in Education Department since 2011.
Mr. Shamshad Khan and Mr. Syed Shahab A. R, sub engineers, Malir, Ms. Sabira Begum, supervisor Education Department spoke on the occasion. They were the point of view that after LG elections the service delivery of govt. departments will improve.
Mr. Iqbal Ahmed Abro, Assistant Commissioner, District Malir assured his cooperation for the resolution of issues.
Major Decisions and Follow-ups Plans
Response of the public departments and ombudsman offices of the concerned districts will be shared in provincial level coordination meetings with secretaries of line departments of government of Sindh
Follow ups will be given to the applications submitted to the ombudsman offices and public departments at district level.
United forum will be developed to provoke this law of freedom of information. Awareness will be raised in public on this law of FOI through applications and seminars
Concerned District Ombudsman Office ensured the participants that issues would be solved as per law
It was planned in Thatta, that meeting with three representatives of CBOs and Political Parties will be held from 9th to 11th February 2016 in Regional Ombudsman Office of Thatta District for resolution of their applications/issues.