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A group of women in Bihar, India

PACS

PACS (Poorest Areas Civil Society) was founded on the premise that chronic poverty in India is largely caused by identity-based discrimination. Socially excluded groups experience greater challenges in accessing rights, entitlements and opportunities, and in moving out of poverty.

Launched in 2009, PACS worked in 90 districts in seven of India’s poorest states to help these communities claim their rights and entitlements more effectively.

The programme’s main goal was to reduce the welfare gap between socially excluded groups – specifically women, people with disabilities, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Muslims from poorer backgrounds – and the rest of the population.

Ending in March 2017, PACS was funded by UK aid from the UK Government, which appointed the Indian Forum for Inclusive Response and Social Transformation (IFIRST) consortium to manage the programme. The consortium was led by Christian Aid, along with Caritas India, the Indian Institute of Dalit StudiesACCESS Development Services and the Financial Management Services Foundation.

PACS leaves a legacy of empowered communities and a society where authorities are accountable to their citizens, in which lessons and responsibility for change are shared.

The Programme achieved an A+ score by DFID.

Visit the PACS website

Key information

Location

India (Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal)

Timescale

2009-2017

Programme value

£28.2 million

Partners

PACS worked with 225 CSO partners – 90 core partners and 135 network partners - across seven states.

Funded by

UK aid
UK aid

Our approach

PACS focused on two key themes:

  1. Access to sustainable livelihoods
    PACS helped socially excluded communities improve their livelihoods through access to MGNREGA (the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the Indian Government’s rural employment scheme), land and forest rights, inclusive livelihood models and skills training.

  2. Rights to basic services
    PACS supported socially excluded communities to access government schemes in education, health and nutrition.

    The poverty levels in PACS districts were higher than the average for rural India, and a substantial proportion of the population belong to socially excluded groups.

    To reduce the welfare gap, PACS strengthened 85 civil society organisations (CSOs) to prioritise and work on issues affecting socially excluded groups

    The programme helped socially excluded groups have a greater voice in committees (at village, block and district level), CSOs and government bodies. It worked to ensure civil society holds service providers more accountable to socially excluded groups. Learning from PACS has been widely shared.

PACS targeted:

  • Women and girls – women and girls are excluded from many aspects of Indian life including health, education and work.
  • People with disabilities – most service providers, governments and workplaces in India are not equipped for the full participation of people with disabilities.
  • Muslims – Muslims from poorer backgrounds fare poorly in a broad range of socioeconomic indicators.
  • Scheduled Tribes (STs) – otherwise known as Adivasis or tribal groups, STs face discrimination due to their ethnicity.
  • Scheduled Castes (SCs) – otherwise known as Dalits, SCs face discrimination on the basis of their position at the very bottom of the Indian caste system.

 

Results

PACS worked directly with 85 CSOs, identified through a rigorous grant application process, and a further 139 networked partners. Over half (58%) of PACS partners are led by someone from a socially excluded group.

PACS partners worked with over 14,000 community-based organisations (CBOs), extending the reach of the programme to 21,552 villages.

PACS provided grants to enable CSOs to assist socially excluded people to claim their rights and entitlements. Capacity building – whether in financial management, legal literacy or communications – was part of PACS’ plan to leave a lasting legacy of empowered communities and organisations with the confidence and skills to claim their rights and entitlements. PACS also provided training and networking events which support alliance-building and joint advocacy.

The programme’s overarching aim was to enable CBO members to understand and be confident in their rights, working together to demand and secure these entitlements. Our CSO partners did this by:

  • training CBO members about their rights in key thematic areas
  • supporting CBOs to lead campaigns and advocacy in their communities to teach others about their rights
  • helping CBO members to monitor services
  • supporting CBO members to participate in meetings with local government to advocate for their rights and more inclusive policies and practices
  • working with CBO leaders to develop their leadership capabilities.

Reports and resources

A celebration of seven years of achievements, learnings and impact on the lives of millions of India’s poorest and marginalised people.

A synthesis of findings from a learning review of donor-funded governance programmes.