Its been 3 weeks since I was in Pakistan – an action packed visit with Penny, OGB’s International Director, along with Oxfam NOVIB’s International Director, Theo and Regional Director, Anjo – flying from one end of the country to the other, taking in Oxfam staff teams, OGB and NOVIB partners, the occasional parliamentarian and old friend or two. It was a busy week but we still found time (mainly in the back of cars on bumpy roads) to reflect on where Pakistan, the country is going, how change might happen and how organisations like Oxfam engage in that process – it’s a tough year ahead for Pakistan I think……
But as ever there are moments of joy when you visit communities and see the impact of all actors working together – I had one such moment on this visit – in a field in Sindh.
The Government of Sindh had decided to allocate some government land to poor women headed household – progressive I hear you say – indeed – one of our Partners decided to support this process in enable women to know about the allocations and how to apply (sounds simple but in a rural area with low literacy rates – just how do you get your messages across?) – many were successful (although a number had their allocations contested – rich landowners contested their ownership – and them with little redress). Power in action…
We met one amazing woman who talked to us at her 3 acre field holding her deed of entitlement . She had been given by the partner through an Oxfam grant, a starter kit of seeds and fertilizer to grow her own wheat – since that first crop – she has saved some for her family and sold the rest, raising enough money to buy new seeds and even to hire labour when she needs.
She is an older women whose family has grown – so this is her dream which will keep her in income for the rest of her life – she was clear that she didn’t need more land nor did she want to try new crops – this was enough – this was the improvement in her life she needed to be happy.
We asked her what her husband (who was sitting across the path from her) thought about her being a landowner – she replied that theirs was a long-term love – and he supported her and wanted her to be happy.
I asked how she had learnt to deal with all the new things that come with owning land – hiring labour, getting a good price, learning how to plant and harvests – and she said - when I got my land I got my brain! And that is power in action!