The following are some of the significant achievements of the HELP Foundation:
HELP Foundation has gradually evolved a Community-Based Early Warning System for floods and hill torrents. We have standardised the steps based on lessons learned and best practices. Under the system, we facilitate linkages between community forums and relevant Government authorities for the information flow. Moreover, we also build the capacity of the local communities to understand the technicalities of the early warning data and disseminate it through their networks at the local levels. The early warning systems established a decade ago are still functioning very well and have contributed to reducing the suffering and loss of livelihood assets among flood-prone communities. HELP Foundation has already extended the technical know-how to other organisations working in disaster-prone communities and is willing to train and provide assistance/advice to other organisations upon request.
HELP Foundation started responding to the Heatwave phenomenon in urban areas. Heatwaves are extremely dangerous for labourers and people working in the sun during the summer. The critical challenge is the size and scope of the humanitarian response in a setting where people have little community coherence. In partnership with Rescue 1122, we have developed a response model to effectively reach thousands of people for protective measures and reduce deaths significantly. HELP Foundation is extending the tacit knowledge and expertise to other organisations and is willing to assist the organisations interested in working on Heatwave response in major urban areas of Pakistan.
In District Rajanpur, HELP Foundation established three Farmer Associations under EC-Food Facility Programme implemented from 2010 to 2011. Even after 12 years, the Farmer Associations are active and passionately involved in the agricultural prosperity, food and nutrition promotion and food rights of their respective member communities. They meet monthly, as they were doing during the project period. The Associations supervise Farm Service Centers with farm machinery available for all members of their respective community-based Farmer Groups. The three Associations have 800 active small farmers and have links with the Government’s subsidy schemes and other capacity-building initiatives. HELP Foundation welcomes further inquiries regarding the associations and will be helping other organisations to connect with the Associations directly.
HELP Foundation founded the Farm Service Centres in partnership with the local communities and Farmer Associations. All the communities are living in flood-prone areas. The Centres have farm machinery pools and provide the latest farm machinery to the member farmers on a user-fee basis. Despite numerous floods, the communities maintained them, and Centres have been functional for the last 12 years.
The Centres provide low-cost doorstep agricultural services to their member communities. Based on experience, Farmer Associations are gradually evolving and developing different business models. They rent machinery at reduced rates compared to market rates to members of the Farmer Association. Apart from this, during peak harvesting season, they rent machinery to the non-memberson market rates and earn some income which Farmer Associations use to strengthen the capacity of the Centres. The Farmer Services Centres transformed into the collective Farmer’s Enterprises as the legitimate, responsible small business for the well-being of the small farmers of their respective areas.
To ensure that nutritious foods for the poor are available in the market. HELP Foundation collaborated with small farmers, promoted Mungbean cultivation in flood-prone areas after harvesting wheat and worked on its value chain. The communities established a Mungbean collection and marketing system andpromoted its cultivation by small farmers, collecting produce from the farmers, storing centrally, marketing on behalf of farmers and distributing the returns to farmers. Small farmers’ associations supervise the whole process. Through establishing this system, small farmers have increased their bargaining power through collective marketing. Apart from this, they have significantly contributed to local and national food security & nutrition as well. Additionally, this system has reinforced their livelihood opportunities for smallholders by promoting Mungbean cultivation as a primary minor crop, increasing its production and strengthening its value chain.
HELP Foundation provided small business and enterprise recovery small grants among the flood-affected communities. Besides small grants, the organisation offered advice and market linkages and helped the businesses reestablish themselves after the floods. We have tracked the grant recipients over the last 15 years, and 65% of the recipients are still engaged in successful businesses and have gradually evolved their small enterprises. We learnt that providing small grants to flood-affected businesses is crucial, but success also requires giving advice and market-related connections (references) and accompanying them during the initial year of recovery.
HELP Foundation is gradually developing its Interest-free Microfinance Programme focusing on small farmers, mainlyliving in disaster-prone areas, to reduce food insecurity. For microfinance intervention, HELP Foundation has completed its ten years of experience working primarily with poor and marginalised women and men, small farmers, sharecroppers, landless agricultural labour, unemployed & unskilled youth, widows, and women-headed households at the grass root level. Considering our excellent experience in microfinance with farmers-managed systems, HELP Foundation has recently handed over its entire programme to local Farmer Associations to enhance small farmers’ ownership and community-managed system for agricultural credit facilities.