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The Poorest Areas Civil Society (PACS) Programme was initiated in 2001 to support and strengthen civil society organisations working for the rights and entitlements of the poorest sections of the population in India.

The Poorest Areas Civil Society (PACS) Programme was initiated in 2001 to support and strengthen civil society organisations working for the rights and entitlements of the poorest sections of the population in India.

The first phase of the PACS programme ran from 2001-2008 and focused on reaching all poor groups in selected districts of India. We reached 19,500 villages and 143 urban settlements in 94 districts spread across the six states of Maharashtra,, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Jharkhand.

The programme was implemented through more than 140 funded projects, involving around 470 civil society organisations (CSOs).

More than 17,500 community-based organisations (CBOs) were formed in the programme areas, with a total membership of around 211,000. About 80% of CBOs were self-help groups (SHGs), whose majority of members were women.

Impact on the lives of the poor

PACS (2001-2008) had a considerable impact on the lives of the poor in our programme areas. We strengthened and improved Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) – local self-governance bodies – making them more responsive to the needs of the poor.

We also contributed to increased representation of women in PRIs and increased awareness about rights and realisation of entitlements by the poor.

Our supported CSOs benefited in a number of ways. They expanded or deepened their presence in specific geographical areas and the programme enabled many CSOs to move from a service-delivery approach to a rights-based approach. The programme provided opportunities for developing and consolidating CSO networks.