Hours for Impact

Improving Economic Opportunities Through Infrastructure

Adil -Warsi-PM-Deloitte-India

P​​MI Pearl City, Hyderabad Chapter and ​Ministry of Rural Development

Number of Hours Pledged: 150

SDGs Supported: #8 Decent Work and Economic Growth, #9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, #15 Life on Land

Country: India 

Summary: The journey between the city of Ahmednagar and the rural village of Hiware Bazar in the state of Maharashtra, India, has never been an easy one. When it rains, travelers must navigate a muddy mess—or worse, heavy flooding makes the road impassible. And even in favorable weather conditions, the route is studded with potholes.

“When we visited the village for the first time, every bone in our body hurt from all the bumps we hit along the way,” says Adil Warsi, a project manager at Deloitte India and longtime member of the PMI Pearl City, Hyderabad Chapter.

Warsi has volunteered through the chapter for almost a decade. “During this time, I had the opportunity to work with the different sections of society that allowed me to see the problems faced by non-privileged people closely,” he says. “I see the PMI alignment with U.N. SDGs as a step in the right direction to bring changes to the lives of the people. That’s what motivated me to make the pledge to PMI Hours for Impact.” 

So Warsi and other volunteers partnered with a local NGO to give the road a much-needed upgrade—and in the process, empower the rural residents to manage this and other projects in the future. 

A Call to Action

The project began when officials from India’s Ministry of Rural Development held a conference to hear about difficulties in executing projects in remote areas.

“They mentioned that a huge amount of allocated funds get wasted due to lack of coordination, communication and knowledge in managing projects,” Warsi says. “Some of the projects either did not get completed or did not live up to their promise.”

The ministry asked if the PMI members in Hyderabad could help, and the chapter jumped into action.

First up: Meet the villagers and identify challenges. The team soon discovered that the village faced far more issues than initially thought. Some locals wanted to improve the 12-mile (19-kilometer) road, others wanted to dig more wells for clean water, and the rest wanted to bolster the local electrical grid.

After a discussion with village leaders, the team determined that the road project would have the biggest positive impact. According to the World Bank, the impact of climate disruptions to India’s transportation networks—like the flooded road in and out of Hiware—“falls most heavily on vulnerable populations, hampering their access to economic opportunities, to education, healthcare and community interaction.”

Still, not everyone in the village agreed: “There was not 100 percent support,” Warsi says.

So the team took a diplomatic approach, highlighting the project’s benefits to build buy-in from skeptical stakeholders. “We had to work to convince them that once the road was built, everything would become easier for them,” he says. “They could get to the city more easily, and they could bring the heavy machinery to the village to do things like dig wells.”

Empowerment Through Education

Once village leaders agreed to the road upgrade, the volunteers educated them on project management processes. They also met with young people in the village to help foster collaboration on the current project—and on future ones.

“At the end of the day, the youth have to execute these things,” Warsi says. “We tried to empower them to carry on and fill the gap that had existed before between the government officials and the rural people.”

That involved some good old-fashioned stakeholder management—“showing everyone who needed to be involved on the project and the people who will benefit,” Warsi explains.

To do that, Warsi and his cohorts walked through the process at planning sessions held in the village. “We explained to them the basics of how a project like this should be done and about how they should talk to the contractor or another vendor,” he says. “It was all about explaining outcomes to them and how you can best reach the outcome you want.” 

By February 2020, the team had laid the groundwork. The villagers now understood the importance of planning and maintaining a schedule to keep track of all the activities, Warsi says.

And then the pandemic hit—stalling the interaction with the village and the project for more than two years.

Despite the delay, Warsi remains optimistic that the youth of the village have been educated and empowered to complete the road project independently.

“We were able to demonstrate that there is a systematic way of doing things right,” he says. “And that could help with projects in rural areas in the future.” 

Pledging time through Hours for Impact “gave me immense satisfaction and a sense of contentment in helping the community and enabling them to make informed choices,” Warsi adds.

“By contributing our efforts to the betterment of the community, we are making a better society where we live. Therefore, it is important for every project manager to participate in Hours for impact for a better tomorrow.”