Sungi Development Foundation (Sungi) emerged in 1989 as a non-profit and non-governmental (NGO) public interest organisation to;

  • Work for the rights of deprived and marginalized communities

  • Integrate them into mainstream development process

  • Actively advocate their livelihood and human rights

  • To bring about the much needed policy and institutional reforms in the state structure

The growing realisation that top-down policy-making was marginalizing communities, contributed to the emergence of rights-based NGOs. At the same time there was a need to address gender issues in a conservative society as well as to arrest the severe ecological degradation in the area.
From 1989 to 1993, Sungi remained an advocacy-oriented NGO focusing on environmental issues, particularly deforestation. The group mobilised a network of civil society activists to organise campaigns related to public sector development policies for Hazara. The devastating floods of 1992 brought SUNGI into direct contact with local communities as it mobilised emergency relief work in the area. The flooding and rehabilitation activities had a significant impact on the organisational approach of working with groups of social activists. Their increased contact with communities brought out the demand for sustained development support. At the same time, the organisation realised that a number of human induced factors were responsible for aggravating the devastation of floods, particularly poor natural resource management. SUNGI’s operational strategy is to achieve advocacy and developmental objectives by and through village organisations, functioning on the principles of democratic governance and transparent management. Sungi’s primary orientation is thus to advocate, mobilise, organise and capacitate communities.
By 1994, Sungi had analysed problems more thoroughly and gained entry into the communities. With the assistance of interested donors, Sungi initiated an integrated Community Support Programme, while sustaining its policy of advocacy initiatives. By 1997, Sungi had gained sufficient experience in community development and advocacy. The organization enjoyed respect and confidence of the civil society. Sungi realised that it needed to plan strategically for the future and expand in the light of its past experiences. Based on this a comprehensive programme plan was prepared.
Sungi's reputation and experience attracted instant support for a four-year Hazara Integrated Rural Development Program (HIRDP) from a group of donors, namely, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), Netherlands Organisation for International Development Cooperation (NOVIB), the Royal Netherlands Embassy (RNE), and The Asia Foundation (TAF). The program commenced in January 1998. The program aimed at expanding the on-going program activities to rural Hazara, and strengthening of a growing policy advocacy portfolio. HIRDP witnessed significant expansion of staff strength, extended outreach at the local level, presence and enhanced national profile. The influence of participatory and supportive management style was significant in managing the growth of Sungi and its individual staff capacity, as well as establishing the organisational culture, which is still Sungi’s driving force.
HIRDP was followed by three phases of Sungi Strategic Plan (SSP) spanning over a period of 15 years. SSPs were comprised of Sungi’s integrated development model catering for Good Governance & Democratization, Sustainable Livelihoods, Social Sector Development and Disaster Management program which was added in SSP III after the mega earthquake of 2005. These 15 years of Sungi’s work mainly supported by Oxfam Novib played a key role in making Sungi a leading national level rights based organization. Sungi was able to pilot community driven projects for the first time in Hazara and link those interventions with policy advocacy. Sungi was successfully able to build the pyramid of development which was pillared on three tier social mobilization, need based capacity building, promoting and protecting local natural and human resources, spreading awareness on rights and creating bridges between right holders and state.
Today nearly 50 percent of the beneficiaries of Sungi interventions are women. Seventy seven women contested the LG election for the first time in the history of district Battagram while 38 won local body elections in 2005. Majority of the women used their right to vote as a result of Sungi’s political education programme. Today women actively participate in various training courses, seminars and workshops organised by Sungi and have mobilised and organised themselves into village committees to acquire their due rights.
During all these years, Sungi had played a huge role in policy formulation in the forest and water sectors, disaster management, food security, labor rights and peace. SUNGI initiated and established provincial level advocacy network for forest protection in the name of Sarhad Awami Forestry Ittehad (SAFI), which had successfully advocated for pro poor forest policy, subsequently approved by the government of NWFP. SUNGI had formed coalitions and membership with national level advocacy networks such as Insaani Huqooq Ittehad (IHI, Human Rights Unity), Sustainable Agriculture Action Group (SAAG), Joint Action Committee (JAC), Sarhad NGOs Ittehad (SNI), Pakistan NGOs Forum (PNF), Pakistan Coalition for Free & Fair Elections (PACFREL), Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN), Sarhad Awami Forestry Ittehad (SAFI), Pakistan National Rivers & Dams (PNRDP), Home Net South Asia, Home Net Pakistan and all Gender networks.
Sungi’s evolution was mainly influenced by its partnerships with likeminded organization including funding partners, prevalent needs of communities in its working area, its learning and experiences translating into staff capacities and institutional development, frequent natural and man-made disasters, repeated political unrests and changing climate and peace situation of the country.