Society for the Promotion of Art and Culture

Appropriate Technology

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 8:43 AM, ,

How NGOs Work

NGOs represent an alternative to the constructed organizational entities. They are flexible and can react faster to the changes. This is the theory as seen in anthropological and ethnological aspects. In our local context and in the face of rampant corruptions rooted deep in governmental organization, we hear so many debates about NGOs and their work. What is more, some segments in our society are totally against NGOs and their good work. Problem is that those who oppose the mere presence of NGOs might not even understand what are NGOs, how they work and fill the void left by the state or how much NGOs can influence for the collective good of the society.
It is in this milieu that Javed Sajjad Ahmad – a veteran social scholar – has brought How to Start and Manage Non-Governmental Organizations. The author has answered many thorny questions about NGOs that can help all stakeholders. “The book is a guide, a ready reference, or a step-by-step manual to launch and nurture an NGO. Existing NGOs, large or small, will find information in the book that they can use to raise funds, hone their organizational skills or learn how to manage growing pains. It is probably the first of its kind book being published in Pakistan, that meets a felt need of the voluntary sector, at a critical juncture, says Professor (Dr.) M. Nizamuddin, renowned antropologist and the Vice Chancellor University of Gujrat.

Working as consultatnt with Thatta Kedona - an international NGO engaged in poverty alleviation and preservation o f rural culture in rural Punjab - for last ten years, I have the understanding of problems being faced by NGOs and how some people view them. I can say with my personal experience that How to Start and Manage Non-Governmental Organizations can be a text book for anyone from donors to volunteers associated with social work at any level.

Publication of this book by University of Gujrat Press – publishing arm of University of Gujrat – at the time when major donors are taking policy decision to channel their development assistance to Pakistan via the voluntary sector will o a long way. Not only the book will open new opportunities for research and promote scholarly work on this subject but will also affect in a big way.

My recommendation: It is a must read for anyone who is alive to the collective good in the society.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 11:10 AM, ,

Experimental Mud Construction

Pakistan is increasingly suffering from an energy crisis. The electricity supply in most parts of the country remains disconnected daily for 8-12 hours; many rural areas have either no electricity at all as they they are too far away from the national grid to receive electricity. The situation points clearly towards the need to maintain and develop energy friendly construction forms and utilize alternative energy sources. Working in this direction, the German Development Agency (GTZ) has for example initiated a large electrification programme in Sind province with the help of solar elements.

The Mud Housing Project of SPARC also intends to make a contribution in the same direction by establishing a “model village”, samples for alternative construction and energy forms. The houses will be an example of traditional mud-construction techniques developed further through research. It will also show options for alternative energy, e.g. solar cooker, dry-WC, wind mill on the principle of Savonius-Rotor etc. - A sort of "Exhibition of Possibilities" never before seen in Pakistan.

The mud construction has unfortunately gained negative image due to influences of urbanization and urban life. Its positive value has been totally neglected. The project intends to bring about a positive consideration of traditional but energy-efficient construction methods. In order to evaluate the results in a scientific way, architecture students of the BNU Lahore, the COMSATS University Lahore, the Punjab University Lahore shall carry out physical tests, experiments and measurements on the mud houses constructed with different materials. Appropriate connections to these universities already exist through Prof. Dr. Norbert Pintsch (SES Expert and husband of Dr Senta Siller, holder of Federal Medal of Honour) due to his longstanding world-wide project work "Dolls of the World" / Village Project in Thatta Ghulamka Dhiroka and other small projects already completed with the assistance of the German Embassy. Letters of Intent from the universities have already been obtained.

The purpose of the exercise is to enable the future decision-makers to consider the traditional mud-construction in new light and to integrate it into future planning. The usage of environmentally friendly and construction biologically cheap materials and traditional construction forms combined with alternative technology, can also open doors for future solutions in urban areas.

The samples of model village will be integrated into an existing cultural entity as a holistic project concept - the cultural complex on the site of the Peerzaada Cultural Complex on the Raiwind Road in Lahore. As the place is already well-known, a regular and high number of visitors to the project as successful public relations work is already guaranteed. Moreover, these mud-houses shall be continuously in use as they will serve as lodging for the artisans working there.

The project appears to be closely related to cultural activity, in essence however, it is a construction concept with educational value as an alternative energy-efficient method of construction.

The project will also be promoted through the digital radio project initiated last year as a small project in the village of Thatta Ghulamka Dhiroka.


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:32 AM, ,

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