6.1.3 Increasing Organization of Target Groups

Asia is experiencing a slow but steady increase in people organizing themselves to reach a common goal or represent their interests.

In most cases, the initiative came from above, usually from the government, in an attempt to revitalize panchayats, irrigation associations, cooperatives, etc. This top-down approach often had little success and was misunderstood as government patronage or as outlet for government financial assistance. The impact was usually long-lasting when the organizations received guidance, not only for their formation but also in running their activities over the years. Besides, the more the people had the feeling that they really had a task to perform, the greater the success was over time. Irrigation associations and tenants' associations are examples of organizations that were successful as long as they were given some guidance.

There are examples of independent organizations, in which people joined to fight for their interests. Even in these cases, the initiative often came from an already existing organization in another area. They are sometimes in opposition to the government. Very often, the government mistrusts these organizations and suppresses them or, at least, observes them suspiciously. This creates a feeling of lack of freedom and of illegality whihc, in ,addition to the lack of funds and lack of knowledge in technical as well as in organizational matters, renders organization difficult. The Philippines probably have the largest number of voluntary organizations of that type, but other countries follow suit. Women, especially, organize themselves in this way.