Pakistan: Local partners are the key to project success
Specialist in Islamic studies, journalist and now project manager in Pakistan – GIZ employee Peer Gatter is working to promote the expansion of schools and health centres in traditional tribal areas.
Known collectively as the FATA region (Federally Administered Tribal Areas), the tribal districts located along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan were affected by extreme poverty and numerous violent conflicts for many years. In 2018, Pakistan’s parliament decided to merge the remote region with the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and integrate the ‘Merged Areas’ into central government. The Pakistani state thus expanded its civil administration to include the FATA. Local public administration and basic healthcare, among other things, need to be strengthened or even redeveloped completely.
In development: education, health and gender equality
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is assisting Pakistan with this development work on behalf of the German Development Ministry (BMZ) and with cofinancing from the European Union. Peer Gatter manages the project for GIZ. Gatter and his team are particularly focused on expanding schools and health centres and providing training and qualifications for their personnel. In addition to working for more participation rights for women and other disadvantaged groups, the project also promotes dialogue between the state and civil society. This September, for the first time, local councillors will be elected to represent the interests of the local population at higher levels of government and administration. ‘Local people are ready to get involved in the development of their region and to have a say in decisions on their own future,’ says Gatter.
Managing the project remotely
The biggest challenge in the project manager’s day-to-day work is the volatile security situation in the region. Hence, Peer Gatter manages the project remotely. In Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, he regularly meets community representatives from the ‘Merged Areas’ and representatives from the Pakistani authorities. ‘We’re working with committed partners who know our work well. It’s an excellent basis for cooperation. Local partners are a key factor in ensuring the success of this remote approach – even more so than technology,’ stresses Gatter. He also receives information on the success of the local projects and how they are progressing from journalists – the journalists received training at the University of Peshawar in a previous phase of the project and now report directly from the tribal districts.
At home in cultural diversity
Despite the difficult security situation, Peer Gatter feels a connection to the region on the whole: ‘I’ve been involved with societies shaped by Islam since my studies at university. This has really helped me to understand the history and culture of the region. My knowledge of Arabic, Turkish and Farsi/Dari has always opened doors for me. Now I’m looking forward to taking a language course in Urdu, so that I can converse better when I’m in Islamabad, too.’
Read more about Peer Gatter in ‘akzente’, the GIZ magazine.