On February 28th, Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC) was pleased to welcome Apoorva Oza, CEO of Aga Khan Rural Support Program – India (AKRSP-India) to Ottawa for a public lecture.
Mr. Oza shared his experience with Multi-Input Area Development (MIAD), which forms the cornerstone of many Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) projects in rural areas. MIAD combines development activities in a variety of programme areas, aiming for a broad, sustained improvement in overall quality of life.
AKRSP-India has implemented an MIAD approach in the state of Bihar, India. Bihar is 90 percent rural, and is home to about one-fifth of India’s poor.
“We first go to villages to understand the community and spend time with them, try to understand their perspective on the problems they are facing, and organize the community,” he said. “And then we have a series of interventions which are designed based on the priorities of each area.”
Mr. Oza explained that the MIAD approach in Bihar focuses on four core issues: increasing incomes, supporting primary education, upgrading infrastructure, and improving health. By addressing these issues simultaneously, the gains in one area reinforce gains in another.
During his lecture, Mr. Oza said that designing a successful MIAD approach isn’t easy, but the key lies in forming good partnerships.
“Doing even one thing in a particular area is tough enough. If you try to do many things, can you be efficient, can you be effective, can you have multiple core competencies as an organization? Those are issues we discussed,” he said. “One of the things we realized is that if you have smart partnerships and different partners in the development sector, you can bring in separate competencies.”
Mr. Oza touted the benefits of MIAD by comparing narrowly-focused development projects to pouring water into a leaky bucket, where the gains in one area can be diminished by lack of development in other areas: “You’re filling up the bucket, but it’s a leaky bucket… some of these leaks we need to plug.”
More about Mr. Oza:
Apoorva Oza is the Chief Executive Officer of Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (India). He is trained as a mechanical engineer, with a diploma in rural management from the Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA). He has also studied at Cranford University in the United Kingdom, and Cornell University in the United States.
Mr. Oza started his career as a Deputy Manager (Projects and Engineering) with Gujarat Dairy Development Corporation. He joined AKRSP (India) as a Programme Coordinator in 1988, advancing to the position of Senior Programme Executive in 1994. He was appointed CEO of AKRSP (India) in 2001.
Mr. Oza sits on the Board of Directors of Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA). He is also a trustee of several NGO networks – such as Pravah, Sajjata Sangh, and Charkha – and NGOs like Society for Women’s Action and Training Initiative (SWATI), Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel (MAGP) and Arid Communities and Technologies (ACT).