Poorest Areas Civil Society (PACS) programme: India

The PACS programme in India seeks to support civil society organisations working in the most backward and poorest districts.


The Poorest Areas Civil Society (PACS) programme in India supports civil society organisations (CSOs) working in India.


The purpose of the PACS programme was to build capacities of CSOs in the most backward and poorest districts of India so they can better help the poor realise their entitlements. The PACS programme concentrated on the 100 poorest districts with the lowest social, economic and political indicators across the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Maharashtra.

Initiated in 2001, PACS supported a network of CSOs working on areas aimed at increasing the capacity of poor people to demand and use political, economic and social and human rights instruments and services to improve their lives.

The programme aimed to achieve this by:

  • strengthening self-governance, women’s empowerment, policy advocacy, social cohesion and self help to meet basic needs
  • promoting effective partnership of civil society
  • learning and disseminating lessons

The 1st phase of the programme, which ended in April 2008, covered over 19,564 villages in 94 districts of 6 states through a network of over 665 civil society organisations.

The programme has:

  • reached over 6 million poor and marginalised people in 6 states in India and helped citizens claim more than £125 million worth of entitlements
  • strengthened and improved Panchayati Raj (local government) institutions, making them more responsive and increasing the representation of women
  • achieved a strong focus on gender equality – 74% of PACS1 projects had a gender theme and formation of women’s self help groups was large scale (81% of the 35,000 community based organisations formed)

The Department for International Development (DFID) developed a 2nd phase to build on the gains made in the 1st phase and make these impacts more sustainable. The 2nd phase was launched in mid 2009.

Published 25 March 2013