From 1989 to 1993, as a rights-based national advocacy NGO, Sungi focused on environmental issues particularly deforestation and effective use of natural resources. Sungi mobilized a network of civil society activists to campaign for effective public sector development policies in education, health, livelihood and environment. The devastating floods in year 1992 brought Sungi into direct contact with local communities as it mobilized emergency relief and provided support in rehabilitation of effected communities. These emergency and rehabilitation interventions within communities had a significant impact on the organizational approach of working with groups of social activists. Their increased contact with communities brought out the demand for continued development support. At the same time, the organization realized that a number of human induced factors were responsible for aggravating the devastation of floods, particularly poor natural resource management. Learning from its experience, Sungi developed its core operational strategy which is effectively valid even today. Sungi’s strategy is to achieve advocacy and developmental goals by working with and through village organizations, functioning on the principles of democratic governance and transparent management. The primary approach is thus to advocate, mobilize, organize and empowering communities.
In year 1994, Sungi initiated an integrated Community Support Program while continuing its advocacy initiatives. By the year 1997, Sungi had gained sufficient experience in community development and advocacy. The organization enjoyed respect and confidence of the stakeholders including government agencies and civil society. Sungi's reputation and experience attracted support for a four-year Hazara Integrated Rural Development Program (HIRDP) from a group of donors – Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), Netherlands Organization for International Development Cooperation (NOVIB), the Royal Netherlands Embassy (RNE), and The Asia Foundation (TAF). Commencing in year 1998, the program aimed at expanding the on-going program activities to rural Hazara, and strengthening of a 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 approaches has been significant in managing organizational growth, empowering human resource and developing organizational culture, which is still organization’s driving force.
Omar Asghar KhanFounder of Sungi Development Foundation
HIRDP was followed by three phases of Sungi Strategic Plans (SSPs) spanning over a period of 15 years. Sungi Strategic Plans (SSPs) manifest organization’s integrated development model for governance and democratization, sustainable livelihoods, social development and disaster management programs, which was added in SSP III after massive earthquake in year 2005. During the course of its phenomenal growth, Sungi was significantly supported by philanthropists, government, national and international donors.
Social mobilization has been niche of SDF work over the years. Sungi successfully practiced three tiers of social mobilization including capacity enhancement, building human resource, raising right’s awareness and bridging gap between right-holders and the state. Today nearly 60% of the beneficiaries of Sungi interventions are women. Today women actively participate in various capacity building courses and have mobilized and organized themselves into village committees for their rights. A major success indicator is that a majority of the women used their right to vote as a result of Sungi’s political education program.
During all these years, Sungi has played a critical role in policy formulation in the forestry, water sectors, disaster management, peace and social harmony, food security, and labor rights. Sungi initiated and established provincial advocacy networks including Sarhad Awami Forestry Ittehad (SAFI) for forest protection. It successfully advocated for pro-poor forest policy, which was subsequently approved by the provincial government. Sungi formed coalitions and membership with national advocacy networks such as Insaani Huqooq Ittehad (IHI), Sustainable Agriculture Action Group (SAAG), Joint Action Committee (JAC), Sarhad NGOs Ittehad (SNI), Pakistan NGOs Forum (PNF), Pakistan Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (PACFREL), Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN), Pakistan National Rivers & Dams (PNRDP), Home Net South Asia, Home Net Pakistan, etc.
Today Sungi is one of the leading national rights-based organizations and an effective civil society member that plays its role for democratic governance practices, and improving citizen and state relationship.