A Pakistani village where WhatsApp is the key to development

A small Pakistani village, close to one of the principal sites of the Indus Valley Civilization, has been using a network of instant messaging and voice-over service WhatsApp for the last five years for running all basic services as also to promote education and hygiene

Jul 26, 2021
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WhatsApp

A small Pakistani village, close to one of the principal sites of the Indus Valley Civilization, has been using a network of instant messaging and voice-over service WhatsApp for the last five years for running all basic services as also to promote education and hygiene.

Balhereji in the Larkana district of Sindh province has heralded a new dawn by connecting the entire village via WhatsApp.

The village, located just a few kilometres from Mohenjodaro – an archaeological site dating back to the ancient civilIzation that flourished between 3000 BCE and 1900 BCE – launched its WhatsApp group in 2016 and will be celebrating the fifth anniversary of the event in November this year.

The group now has some 180 members, who trace their origins to Balhereji.

“They include doctors, engineers, scholars, lawyers, writers and various government employees working on senior and junior positions, who contribute to the village’s affairs despite residence in other parts of the province and even abroad,” Riaz Pirzado, one of the group administrators, told The Express Tribune. 

To celebrate the anniversary, the village organizes a unique public meeting where the progress and audit reports of the various schemes are presented to ensure transparency in their work. 

The WhatsApp group members follow up on the meeting to finalize a plan for the next year and form youth committees to coordinate with different government departments and elected representatives.

The village committee members pool a monthly fund with each contributing Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 (USD 3.08-6.16) for community initiatives. Because of the instant messaging network, wealthy villagers and philanthropists who have established themselves elsewhere around the world contribute substantial sums of money.

The funds are utilized to pay the salaries of the sweepers who clean the streets, tutors who run coaching centers and for the purchase of ration for low-income villagers who travel to Karachi, the provincial capital, for medical treatment.  

The group has organized dedicated social media volunteers for communication, education, health, sports, women’s issues, literature, and technology to effectively comply with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “Different teams have formed different sector-wise WhatsApp groups,” Riaz Pirzado is quoted as saying. 

The literary committee organizes musical and cultural programs, education groups look after the village resource center, library and primary and secondary schools and health groups deal with the village dispensary and arrange medical camps while a women’s group named ‘Sartiyoon’ engages the village’s womenfolk.

The main Balhreji village group members coordinate with all the subgroups and act as facilitators by providing resources to resolve their issues.

According to Esa Ansari, a member of the original WhatsApp group, they have developed a resource center equipped with internet, multimedia, computer setup, for students and others to access the web.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Dr. Asghar Pirzado, one of the brains behind the Balhereji WhatsApps group, said the platform has aided several community initiatives, also expediating village issues that had long been pending.

“This includes the rehabilitation of the crumbling government dispensary through community service. It has inspired people to start their own initiatives for the welfare of Balhreji,” said the doctor.

(SAM)

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