Yearly Archives: 2018

650 targeted farming families were provided plant samplings for the tree plantation campaign.

An aeroculture[1] campaign was launched with the farming communities of Khairpur Gambo and Pangrio cities of the Badin district in Sindh earlier this August under the Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture project[2]. This was part of an annual activity planned to promote and enhance biodiversity and to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change. As a sustainable outcome,  this campaign aimed at providing an alternative livelihood source to the water-deprived farming communities of the area. These activities will also enhance the provision of fodder for the communities’ livestock, which is currently in high scarcity.

A variety of fruit and plant saplings such as Sapota, Lemon, Azarirachta indica (neem), Moringa, Falsa, Jujube and Guava, were distributed among 650 targeted agrarian families of Khairpur Gambo and Pangrio city. As many as 10,400 samplings were given out during the campaign that chanted the slogan “Let’s make a promise to grow more trees”.

Each family were given two saplings each of, lemon, neem, moringa and jujube and three of falsa and guava.  A week earlier to the distribution, the families were demonstrated  on how to plant the samples in the soil. They were also oriented on all the possible measures adopted to ensure the healthy growth of the plants. The categories and species of the plants and fruits were selected with consent and suggestion from the communities and upon recommendations given by the Forest Department in Badin and the ARID zone agriculture institute. These particular types of plants and fruit were selected as they could grow well without a lot of water and could tolerate a certain level of water salinity, which was present in the water available here.  The trees planted under this campaign will bear fruits between two to four years, allowing the farmers to benefit from the sustenance it will provide, as well as reviving greenery in the area, cleansing their environment and building the community’s resilience to climate change impacts.

[1] A method of growing plants without soil by suspending them above sprays that constantly moisten the roots with water and nutrients.

[2] Promoting Sustainable Agriculture Practices to Improve Food Security and Livelihoods of Vulnerable and Marginalized Farmers of Badin.

A group photo of training participants with the resource person, Syed Ali Moazzam and the team of Community World Service Asia.

What is social mobilization? Social mobilization is the primary step of community development for recovery from conflicts and disasters. It allows people to think and understand their situation and to organize and initiate action for their recovery with their own initiative and creativity[1]. Through mobilization, people can organize themselves to take action collectively by developing their own plan and strategy for recovery rather than being imposed from outside. It is essential to understand the basic idea of social mobilization and its uses before practically implementing it.

Advocating the mobilization and participation of communities at all levels of project interventions, Community World Service Asia recognizes that project and field staff in the humanitarian and development sector must be equipped with adequate skills and expertise on how to interact with communities and build relations of long-lasting trust with them. To further this cause, Community World Service Asia, held and conducted a four-day training on “Essentials of Social Mobilization” for local level organizations in Murree, Pakistan, in early August. Twenty-seven participants from ten organizations participated in this training.

The training introduced the various social mobilization skills required to motivate communities to bring about positive and sustainable changes in their society by building opinion on social issues. The opportunities and challenges faced by development workers were outlined and skills were enhanced on communication, conflict resolution, decision-making and problem solving to work more effectively with communities.  The training elaborated on organizational policies to ensure inclusion of the marginalized segment of society especially to promote women participation in all processes of social mobilization. Participants developed skills to devise organizational strategies by engaging people to take ownership of their issues and resolve them by using local resources.

The prime focus of the training was to strengthen the capacity of local level organizations directly engaged in community mobilization and on-ground development initiatives. In the needs assessment, most of the participants showed interest in learning how to draft social mobilization strategies, using Participatory Rapid Assessment (PRA) tools, practicing effective communication skills, conflict resolution and how to identify local issues to advocate for social change. They also expressed an interest in enhancing their leadership skills to ensure effective social mobilization and women participation in the development process.

Once the participants for the training were finalized, they were included in all processes of the training design; from conceptualization to designing and activity planning. A training baseline survey was also conducted to learn about participating organizations’ policies, strategies and programs related to social mobilization and understand their organizational limitations and priorities.

Practicing the blended learning approach, the participants were divided in groups and given assignments. This exercise gave them the opportunity to learn by sharing experiences. A panel discussion was also held in which specialists selected from among the groups, with relevant experience, highlighted issues pertaining to lack of women empowerment. The purpose of this activity was to promote peer learning and sharing of contextualized best practices through open discussions, one-on-one talks and formal presentations among various organizations.

Key Learnings

The session on Participatory Rapid Assessment (PRA) allowed knowledge building on PRA tools including Focus Group Discussion, Key Informant Interview (KII), Social Mapping, Seasonal Calendar and transect walk. In a group activity, participants were divided in two teams. Both teams were assigned to work on different PRA tools. Team A worked on the transect walk, social mapping and KII, while team B’s task was to work on drafting a seasonal calendar by interviewing local people and conducting FGDs with a selected group of people. The teams performed actively and presented their work. The resource person identified some gaps and explained the tools for further clarity.

Another major need highlighted by the social mobilizers was to learn about the strategies and skills to overcome conflicts, communicate effectively in the community, enhance skills for effective conflict resolution, and trust building among communities.

Through adopting  various interactive learning methodologies, participants identified the many challenges faced regarding power dynamics, balanced inclusion and participation while working in the community and learnt how to overcome those through conflict management, conflict resolution, effective communication strategies and different styles of leadership according to situations and people needs.

Muhammad Taj, with 25 years of extensive experience working with Sungi Development Foundation on social mobilization, shared his practical experiences and strategies to motivate people and communities to realize challenges and try to resolve their issues collaboratively with the support of local organizations. The training facilitator further encouraged participants to work on devising policies and strategies on social mobilization and provide guidelines to field workers on how to mobilize people to speak about their issues and work together with them on realizing their basic fundamental rights.

Steps ahead

Participants developed organizational action plans, chalking out the roadmap for implementing the learnings of the training. They plan to share their respective action plans with their organizations.

[1] UN Habitat

Treating malnutrition among infants and children in Ranta, Sindh

Soni is a thirty-eight-year-old mother of ten who lives with her children and husband, Sadla, in the Sadla Surjho[1] village of Sujawal district in Sindh. Her husband and eldest son together earn a total income of PKR 8000 (Approx. 65 USD) through local farming.

Meeting the needs of all of her children and running the house with just PKR 8000 a month was always a challenge for Soni. She was always struggling to complete the month with the finances she was handed; there was never enough food and health expenses were often sidelined. Traveling to Daro city, to avail even the most minor health assistance would cost money which made it nearly impossible for Soni or any of her family members to consider.

Very little or no money was saved for healthcare in our house. My youngest son who is two-years-old now was very weak since infancy. He could hardly walk. He did not eat well and was thus very thin. I then decided to take him to a clinic in Daro city to consult a doctor about his decreasing weight and health. The hour’s travel to Daro city alone  cost us PKR 1500 each time. Yet, for a year we kept taking him to the doctor in Daro regularly, but his health did not improve, nor did he start working. This kept me extremely worried, shared Soni.

Early this year some women from Lakhano Surjho, a nearby village, told Soni about the MNCHⁱ centre operating in Ranta village, which is a half an hour walk from Soni’s home village. They shared their good experiences with the health staff at the centre and assured Soni that the medical support provided there has been effective and consistent.

The MNCH is only near my home. I first visited the health centre in June, 2018.  The medical officer at the centre diagnosed my son with anemia. His weight was only 4kgs when he first visited the MCNH, narrated Soni.

The doctor at the MNCH prescribed iron tablets to my son and in addition provided a diet chart to me supported with a health awareness session on how to improve food intake and maintain a clean environment at home.

 Soni was quite satisfied with the treatment provided at the MNCH and she observed a significant improvement in her son’s health. Within fifteen days of the treatment, he had started walking.  Soni had visited the MNCH six times in a month to ensure consistent treatment of her son through routine check-ups as advised by the medical officer.

Soni told her neighbours and other women at Sadla Surjho about the MNCH and her experiences. Since then, a number of women from Sadla Surjho have visited the centre to seek treatment for viral illness treatment and antenatal and postnatal care. Some women have also taken ultrasound tests at the centre too.

My son is healthy and is walking well. I strictly follow the diet as advised by the doctor for all my children to ensure their good health. I want to request the health team to establish a health center in Kot Alam union councilⁱⁱ as well so that we can have access to economical, primary healthcare services only a few minutes away from our doorsteps, concluded Soni. 

Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health Centre Project implemented in District Thatta with the support of Church of Scotland (CoS).

ⁱⁱ Sadla Surjho is located in the Kot Alam union council of Sujawal district

Group photo of participants of the Communicable Diseases.

Communicable diseases are a major cause of concern in low-income countries where poor education and awareness, unsustainable lifestyles, poor hygiene and sanitation, lack of palatable water and poor nutrition are contributing factors towards higher morbidity and mortality rates. Diarrheal Disease, Acute Respiratory Tract Infection (ARI), and Malaria, being most life threatening, are highly prevalent in many low-income countries.

These communicable diseases are recognized as very common in Afghanistan and have led to increased morbidity rates in the country in recent years. Since HMIS[1], recently reported that malaria, ARI and diarrhea are all highly prevalent diseases in the area that we work with under our PSMNCH[2], Community World Service Asia prioritized the training on communicable diseases for its nurses and midwives working at the project health centers. Awareness and techniques on diagnosing and preventing anemia, pelvic inflammatory diseases, STD (Sexual Transmitted Disease) and HIV were also included in the training. The training was conducted in two batches, one of six midwives and another of six nurses, of three days each in late August at the Laghman Public Health Directorate.

The training aimed at enhancing and refreshing the expertise of the midwives and nurses on communicable diseases, which would enable them in easily identifying, managing and referring patients to specialists and other hospitals. The trainings were led and facilitated by in-house experts on HMIS and Reproductive Health.

Participants of the training were briefed on the diagnosis and management of different kinds of diarrhea and on the symptoms and cure of dehydration. They were also provided with Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses charts, which displayed the management processes of dehydration. The training ensured that all midwives and nurses were taught about the types, signs, complications and cure of malaria.

During the session on ARI, participants learned about the causes and preventive measures of common cold, pneumonia, sever disease, otitis, and pharyngitis. Participants further discussed the diagnosis and cure of ARI as per the National Standard Treatment Guideline (NSTG). Copies of the NSTG were also provided to the midwives and nurses. The session on anemia enabled participants to diagnose and control anaemia in pregnant and lactating women.

Guidelines including the National Standard Treatment guideline, malaria national treatment protocol and other MoPH[3] standard guidelines were shared with the participants, which would facilitate them during Out Patient Department (OPD) consultations.

Midwives and nurses were updated on new treatment and diagnostic protocols. Their skills and knowledge on clinical practices, existing gaps of diagnosis and treatment of common diseases were enhanced and made more effective.

Participants’ Voices:

The training was very useful for all of us. We largely learnt about common diseases. Anemia is much common among women of Ghaziabad. The training has equipped us with skills to provide efficient services to combat various disease, especially anemia. – Gulzai, midwife of Ghaziabad health facility.

Capacity building opportunities are always helpful for efficient work. We appreciate the opportunities provided to us, allowing us to stay updated with standard guidelines. This training has helped enhance our knowledge and skills on communicable diseases. I would recommend diverse training on other diseases recorded in the Health Management Information System reports. Gulrahman nurse of Shmam-o-Ram health facility.

I have visited several health facilities of Community World Service Asia and the quality of services has been improving frequently. These refresher trainings have contributed immensely in the proficient performance displayed by all the health staff at the health facilities. – Deputy Public Health Director of Laghman Public Health Directorate.

[1] Health Management Information System

[2] Partnership for Strengthening Mother, Newborn and Child Health project (PSMNCH)

[3] Ministry of Public Health

photo credit: www.afp.com

The prevailing drought like situation is likely to worsen in coming days mainly because of insufficient rainfall during the monsoon season.

Overall, Pakistan has received -24.4% below average rainfall from May to August this year, while among provinces, Sindh has received the most insufficient rainfall during this period which is -69.5% followed by -49% in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and -45% in Baluchistan.

Sindh has witnessed a substantial 87.7% decline during the months of July and August where Baluchistan is at number two during the same period with a decline of 53.5%. The overall decline in Sindh from May until end of August remained at 69.5% while in Baluchistan it remained at 45.7%. Due to this deficient in the rainfall, moderate drought like conditions has emerged in most southern parts of the country. Owing to the current insufficient rainfall across the country, Pakistan Metrological Department’s National Drought Monitoring Center (NDMC) has issued drought alert. As per the alert, the moderate to severe drought is prevailing in most parts of Sindh districts which includes, Tharparkar, Mitthiari, Hyderabad, Jacobabad, Dadu, Karachi, Kambar Shahdadkot, Umerkot, Sanghar, Sajawal, Shaheed Benazirabad, Jamshoro and Khairpur.  The districts in Baluchistan included Dalbandin, Gawadar, Jiwani, Panjgur, Pasni, Nokundi, Ormara, Quetta and Turbat.

Mild to moderate drought is prevailing at few places of district Multan and Mianwali in Punjab and Bunji, Chilas, Gilgit, and Gupis in Gilgit Baltistan.

It is expected that the drought condition may get severe in the coming days in southern parts of the country due to no further forecast of significant rainfall.

Community World Service Asia response team is in the field and is coordinating with Government agencies, Non-Government humanitarian actors in the field and other relevant departments to collect the latest information on ground. Community World Service Asia is planning to address the immediate food needs of the drought affected/at risk families and fodder for their livestock. The teams in the field will further monitor the situation and will formulate the next plan as per the requirements.

Contacts:

Shama Mall
Deputy Regional Director
Programs & Organizational Development
Email: hi2shama@cyber.net.pk
Tele: 92-21-34390541-4

Palwashay Arbab
Head of Communications
Email: palwashay.arbab@communityworldservice.asia
Tele: +92 42 3586 5338

Sources:
www.tribune.com.pk
www.dawn.com
www.pmd.gov.pk

It’s August 19th[1], and it is time for us to celebrate and recognize the brave souls who risk their lives in the in the way of humanity.  These individuals put those in need before themselves irrespective of the dangers and adversities they may face in the process. This World Humanitarian Day, as celebrated globally, builds on the momentum of the #NotATarget campaign spearheaded by the UN and followed by the global humanitarian community last year.

Each one of us has the ability to inspire others to do good; may it be through our words or through our actions. Some of us inspire people more than others and touch the lives of those around them with positivity, care and endless empathy. Today, we share stories of some of the most inspiring and relentless humanitarian workers we know.

Shahida Sarwar, in the field of humanitarian response and rehabilitation since 2006, has passionately been working for the progress of the local communities in her hometown of Mansehra. Shahida has committed all her energy and time into ensuring she provides the best and most accountable emergency relief services as well skill development opportunities to the people she serves so that they can benefit from being equipped with sustainable livelihoods. Shahida is currently employed with Helping Hand for Relief and Development, an NGO working in Pakistan.

Recalling one of her more traumatizing experiences in her professional life, Shahida said,

 I was working for World Vision in District Mansehra in 2010. We were working on an emergency response project for local communities. On a Wednesday morning, ten unknown masked men attacked the World Vision office. I lost seven colleagues that day. I was among the injured and got seven stitches on my forehead. We were left helpless, traumatized and frightened. This incident did not break my courage and motivation towards helping others. Taking this incident as a gift of a second life, I stood up strong again and was even more determined than ever to help and work with the underprivileged children, women and men in the area. As a social mobilizer today, I believe I have a vital role of conveying the message of humanity and that humanitarian workers are #NotATarget. We are here to help, not harm anyone. The smiles I see in the communities I work with makes me feel honored and content.
This humanitarian day, my message is that we all need to join hands with humanitarian workers working endlessly around the globe to foster empowerment, prosperity and help improve the lives of those in need.

Jhaman Das Parmar, a post-graduate in Sociology, has been working in the development sector in Sindh since 2012.

I have been working with various local and national organizations in Taluka[1] Chachro, Tharparkar district. Helping communities in Tharparkar is my motivation to work.

Sharing one of his experiences, Jhaman said,

In Kankayo village of Taluka Chachro, the community was very conservative and rigid with organizations who came to help people in the village. This was due to many prevailing myths and misunderstanding about the role of NGOs in the region. Many of these communities faced innumerable social and economic challenges including malnutrition, night blindness, illiteracy and limited access to appropriate healthcare, especially for women. Working as a Social mobilizer with AWARE, I was determinate to bring change in Kankayo. When I first visited the area, the villagers clearly refuse to talk to me and stopped me from entering their village.

Jhaman decided to start his work from a small neighborhood, whose people were more welcoming and progressive as compared to the other nearby villages.

The neighborhood had seven homes where I initially held meetings. I explained the importance of water schemes and education of children to the residents of these households. The elders in the neighborhood realized that I was not coming to them for my interest, but to make progressive development in their village. After three months of frequent meetings, the elders approached the village people about the changes I spoke about. Being influential figures, the elders were able to convince the villagers to allow AWARE to work in their village for their development. Our team, including myself, held sessions and implemented project interventions. We set up Solar Powered Water Schemes and constructed schools, equipped with furniture, good infrastructure and computers in the village. Today, that village is considered as a model village and other villages have themselves requested for our organization’s assistance.
On this humanitarian day, my message is to pledge to help others without fearing hurdles.”

Nadia Riasat, Senior Program Officer at Community World Service Asia, shared her experience of facing hurdles while working on an aid distribution project.

 Working as Program Coordinator on Adult Basic Education Society (ABES) in district Mianwali of Punjab, we provided aid assistance to the victims of floods in the years 2010, 2011 and 2014. Communities were forced to leave their homes with limited belongings. These communities lived in camps with limited access to clean water, sufficient food, proper healthcare and hygienic environment. Through our emergency relief projects, we provided aid assistance to these vulnerable communities. All the project staff assembled the food and non-food items according to the number of beneficiaries shortlisted. Only my male colleagues went to the communities for aid distribution. Many of my fellow humanitarian workers were often mobbed during the aid distribution, as the number of expected project participants present would exceed the initial anticipated number. Some of my colleagues would return with minor injuries and ripped clothes. Humanitarian workers have faced various incidents of intentional or unintentional violence in this part of the world. Despite these challenges, we do not stop helping the people in need, as we know their needs are far greater than the risks we face.
Today, I call out to support all humanitarian workers who are working for the benefit of vulnerable communities by putting their lives at risk. Let’s pledge to be part of this chain and continue to work with commitment to help and save others.

Humanitarian aid is, at its best, a reflection of the notion that whatever our differences and disagreements, people can still recognize and affirm each other’s fundamental humanity. Aid workers put their lives on the line not to exert political leverage but to practice humanity by helping those in need, irrespective of their class, creed, gender, race or religion.

[1] The UN general assembly designated 19 August as World Humanitarian Day (WHD), in memory of the 22 colleagues killed in the 2003 bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad

[1] A tehsil (or taluka) is an administrative sub-division of a District.

District Tharparkar is currently faced with a drought like situation due to minimal rains in the region. This is leading to adverse effects on agricultural and domestic needs of the local communities in the area, leaving many children malnourished and severely ill. Nine infants have been reported dead this month, while a total of 375 children have died due to malnutrition in 2018.

Years of below-average crop production and losses of cattle has worsened the already-dire food insecurity and malnutrition situation in the Tharparkar district. Limited access to clean water and proper sanitation has deeply compromised health conditions of the resident communities.

With no further expectation of adequate rainfall, the situation seems to worsen in the near future. The sufferings of affected communities are only expected to increase as they have very limited crop production and their own health, as well as that of their livestock, is only further deteriorating due to a lack of water and food supply. Analyzing the current situation, the district administration has appealed to international aid organizations to send their teams support the government in its efforts to provide relief to the people of Thar. The affected communities require immediate emergency relief in terms of nutritional, WASH and health support.

Drought-stricken families from several areas have started migrating along with their livestock to the barrage areas of Badin, Mirpurkhas, Umerkot and other districts.

Community World Service Asia’s Response:

Community World Service Asia (CWSA) has worked towards providing relief and rehabilitation to drought affected communities in the same area before and is currently monitoring the situation. CWSA’s emergency response team is on standby and shall start response activities in case of need.

Contacts:

Shama Mall
Deputy Regional Director
Programs & Organizational Development
Email: hi2shama@cyber.net.pk
Tele: 92-21-34390541-4

Palwashay Arbab
Head of Communications
Email: palwashay.arbab@communityworldservice.asia
Tele: +92 42 3586 5338

Sources:
Geo.tv
District administration

Program participants

A Women Farmers Festival was organized by Community World Service Asia at Darbar Hall in Jhuddo under the Promoting Sustainable Agriculture project, supported by PWS&D and CFGB, in Badin, Pakistan. More than three hundred women farmers attended the festival that took place on July 5th this year. Eight guest speakers (all women),  representing various local and international organizations, and bringing with them a wide array of expertise and skill, shared their experiences, learnings and advice with the women farmers  attending  the event.

The Festival aimed at:

  • Providing an experience sharing and peer learning platform to local women farmers on Nutrition and Kitchen Gardening interventions
  • Developing collaborative relations and linkages among communities,  CSOs and NGOs, government departments  and community based organizations working in the area
  • Building awareness on climate change impacts and global food security and nutrition challenge among local communities

Shama, Agriculture Extension Officer, Community World Service Asia,  introduced the organization and shared the plan and outcomes of the Promoting Sustainable Agriculture project to ensure food security in Badin.

A little bit of Fun

An interactive theater play was performed by the Parbhat[1] theater group at the festival. The theme of the performance was food security, nutrition, kitchen gardening and tree plantation. The performers not only highlighted the importance of a balanced diet, the need for special mother and child health care and ways of sustaining kitchen garden at times of water shortages, but also strongly emphasized on the perils of climate change and the role of progressive agricultural practices in mitigating its impacts.

Local primary schools’ students entertained the audience with original poetry and humour story recitations, singing folk songs, and traditional dance performances. School-going children of Prem Nagar village  performed a tableau focusing on the importance of food security, nutrition, tree plantation, environment, education and home gardening. To give a breather to the audience from the main theme in focus, students of the Ram Public School charaded an exclusive play highlighting the Sindhi culture and its social bindings prevalent in the province.

Attendees of the festival participated in various entertainment activities such as  musical chairs, eating competitions and more. The winners were also awarded gifts.

Exhibit Corner

Models of Low Cost Drip and Pitcher Irrigation for sustainable kitchen gardening were displayed by the CWSA team. At the same stall, IEC material on nutrition, kitchen gardening, nutritional value of Moringa and other project interventions were also displayed.

Local women artisans also displayed their vibrant handicrafts for sale  at the festival.

Other non-profit organizations working in the region were also given an opportunity to set up stalls, displaying local handicrafts and pictorial presentations reflecting their own project activities, at the festival.

Award Ceremony

Distinguish guest speakers were presented with Traditional Chunri (Local scarf). All the children who performed at the various activities at the festival were awarded with appreciatory gifts. The festival was seen as a bridge that addressed the existing gaps between community members, local farmers and government officials and a big leap towards enhancing agricultural development in Sindh.

[1] A local theater group in Badin.

Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them.
Paul Hawken – American Environmentalist

Emerging or smaller organizations often work within informal organizational structures due to lack of financial and human resources. This commonly results in fewer staff members performing multiple functions. With this sort of multi-tasking, it is imperative that key employees of such organizations are equipped with basic skills on managing human resources, operational and financial functions of the organization to ensure consistent efficiency and productivity. To support small and medium civil society organizations and local NGOs to achieve this level of efficiency and quality management, Community World Service Asia conducted a capacity enhancement opportunity through a four-day workshop on Organization Management this July.

What did the workshop aim to achieve?

  • To develop functional understanding of Organizational Management skills
  • To equip participants with the knowledge of the latest trends and techniques in Organizational Management
  • To familiarize participants with the concept and practices of Human Resource Management
  • To Identify ways and approaches for effective resource management (Multi-Tasking)

The prime focus of the training was to strengthen the capacity of local level organizations directly engaged in community mobilization and on-ground development initiatives. The key topics covered were Organizational Sustainability, Management Style in Different Cultures, People Management, Art of Planning and Implementation and Applied Tax Compliance. A total of twenty-four participants from fourteen different organizations took part in the workshop.

Applying Innovation in Training methodology

Once the participants for this training were selected, they were fully taken on board with the conceptualization, designing and activity planning of the training itself. Through an e-meeting, they were all asked about their expectations from this training and what they actually wished to take back from it. At this meeting, participating organizations particularly highlighted the need to include dedicated sessions on Applied Tax Compliances, Linking CHS with organizational management and Shrinking Space while working in sensitive environments. For these sessions, experts were invited to share their learnings and experiences in their specialized fields.

A baseline survey was also conducted to assess the limitations and priorities of all participants prior to the training.

Sessions of the Workshop:

Linking CHS with Organizational Work:

There is a growing demand to adopt to international standards and protocols. Donors are pursuing the agenda for linking the organization policies, procedures and practices with international standards for quality and accountability. Local level organizations have shown deep interest in the pretraining stage to understand Core Humanitarian Standards and its significance for organization working in Pakistan.

Community World Service Asia being focal partner of Sphere and an active member of CHS Alliance helped organizations in the workshop understand the importance of CHS and linking it to organizational management. Rizwan Iqbal and Sana Basim, in-house Trainers, briefed the participants on how to link CHS nine commitments with organizational policies, procedures and practices.

Shrinking Space to Operate for NGOs:

The biggest challenge NGOs in Pakistan face is the shrinking space to operate. The problem associated with this is the lack of information about the factors behind the shrinking space. This is another area where CWSA is vigorously engaged. Karen Janjua, Associate Regional Director (Strategy and Partnership), was the guest speaker for this session. She shared the global and national factors behind the shrinking space like the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations to counter terrorism funding and newly introduce national legislative measure for this. She also shared the importance of working together and need for positively engaging with government. The participants appreciated the step of Community World Service Asia in introducing them to national and international legislations and how to improve the situation.

Applied Tax Compliance:

There have been a lot of changes in tax and financial protocols for NGOs by the state in Pakistan. According to the participating NGOs, they face the problem of identifying tax rates, deducting taxes and filing returns. Hira Saeed from the Finance department in Community World Service Asia, briefed the participants about the FBR tax reforms in recent times and their implication on NGOs sector. She also shared the tax slabs for different categories.

Applying the Blended Learning Approach:

Practicing the blended learning approach, the facilitators’ team divided the participants’ group into two. The first group was asked to develop a short presentation on their organizational sustainability model, while the other group was asked to present  their management structure as part of the session on Management Style in Different Cultures on day 2 of the training.

Since participants from same organizations were assigned different groups, each participating organization was able to share their sustainability model and management structure by the end of the session. The purpose of this activity was to promote peer learning and sharing of contextualized best practices through open discussions, one-on-one talks and formal presentations among various organizations.

Outcomes:

Participants developed organizational action plans, chalking out the roadmap for implementing the learnings of the training and the post-training support they would require towards the end of the training. They all requested to share their respective action points within their organization before agreeing on the final points. This was agreed upon and a follow-up questionnaire was decided to be shared among all training participants to complete in liaison with their line managers and senior management.

Chaudary Shafiq, Commissioner at the National Commission for Human Rights, participated as  chief guest at the closing day of the workshop. He commended the significant role played by national and local organization in Pakistan towards highlighting the issues of the underprivileged and underserved communities in Pakistan.

Women were mostly busy with home chores, grass cutting and field work during harvest seasons and men were commonly engaged in agricultural activities and small local businesses,

shared Yar Mohammad, a forty-one-year-old resident and General Secretary of the steering Committee in Dibh village, Umerkot. Yar Muhammad is a teacher at a local school located in his village. He has been teaching since over a decade now and firmly believes in education being an important indicator for progressive change in communities and societies.

I strongly promote education in my house. My eldest son is completing his Masters’ degree from Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad and my daughter, whose younger than him, is completing her Bachelor’s degree in Arts, privately,

proudly narrated Yar Muhammad, “

Girls here continue their higher education but they do so privately; living in a conservative society, we do not send our daughters to far away cities alone. There are no colleges or universities anywhere near in the area that we live. However, seven of my children, including my four sons and three daughters have attended and continue to attend academic institutes, except for my youngest one, as he is very young yet.

In April of 2017, Community World Service Asia expanded their livelihoods project, supported by YCare and UKAID, to Dibh village in its third year of implementation. In a meeting with the elders of the village, the livelihoods team briefed the attendants on the project’s goals of enhancing the artisan skills of women and linking them with buyers and markets, increasing gender-based awareness and empowering women with decision-making capacities.

Being part of the initial meeting, and understanding what the project aimed to achieve, I thought of it as a very dynamic initiative for women as they rarely get opportunities of capacity building and exposure here. They naturally have a talent of stitching clothes and if this skill is further developed, they will be able to earn good money as well,

 expressed Yar Muhammad,

There were some men who did not agree initially as they believed it was against our cultural norms to allow women to work openly and travel to other cities for exposure. However, as an elder of the village, the people trusted my decision to invite this project in the village. Most importantly, men in the village collectively thought that this initiative will improve the standard of living of the people here.

A Steering Committee consisting of fifteen members was initially formed as the first step towards implementing this project in Dibh. The committee members included eight men and seven women Mandar, Yar Muhammad’s brother, was elected as President and Nasreen, a residual of Dibh, as vice president of the committee.

In our first joint meetings, we learnt about the basic rights of women which we were unaware of before. Inadvertently, we discriminated against women and overlooked the countless contributions they make in our households. All the members actively agreed to promote women rights and to involve them in decision-making processes of the village. These meetings are often conducted once a month but if there is an important issue to be resolved then we come together after 15 days as well.

A vocational center was successfully established in a room in one of the houses in Dibh village. This room was voluntarily contributed to be used as a vocational centre by one of Dibh’s residents.

Some men opposed the idea of skill building classes and discouraged establishing the vocational center. The steering committee held meetings to change the minds of these men and to persuade them towards supporting this development and positive change for the village people. As a result of the steering committee’s relentless efforts towards raising awareness on the rights of women and the benefits of the project, twenty-eight artisans successfully enrolled for classes at the vocational center and are enthusiastically working and learning there currently,

 added Yar.

Moreover, we also invited other community members from neighboring villages to join the center and informed them about the skill building component in the livelihoods project. We held a meeting with the residents of Bheel, a Hindu community, to encourage them to send their women at the center for skill building as well. Today, four artisans from Bheel attend the center as well.

Nazia, Vice President of Steering Committee, happily shared,

I am an artisan in the vocational center as well. We have been earning a good income from the orders we receive. Seeing our confidence and vocal skills in the decision-making processes, men have started to trust us more. Many of us run the budget of our households as the men give the monthly budget in our hands and trust us to manage the expenditures accordingly. The women have become so responsible and are able to save most of their earnings. They are also able to purchase gold jewelry and clothing for themselves and for their daughter’s dowry. For the healthcare of women, most of the men pay for the medical expenses. The women prefer to keep their savings for times of emergencies.

Kiran, an Enterprise Development Officer at Community World Service Asia informed us, saying,

Dibh village has had the highest earning through orders in this year of the livelihoods project. They have earned approximately PKR 400,000 (Approx. 3500 U$D) since the establishment of the center which was in May 2017. The artisans in this village are very hard working and fast in their stitching skills.

The village of Dibh faced severe water scarcity and supply issues as there was no direct water to the area. 

Women had to walk half a kilometer to fetch water from a well. All villagers saved money to construct a water pipeline, which enabled a direct water supply to the village. Now, the women do not have to travel long distances to fetch and carry the heavy containers back home. The members of the committee also work together in resolving other similar matters of residual families; but only when the concerned family requires the support of the steering committee,

 shared Yar Mohammad.

Living in a Muslim community, it is not easy to raise voices regarding social issues, especially, concerning women as we were told by Yar Mohammad.

With the support of the elders of the village however, we were able to organize gender awareness sessions and theater performances. The performances have brought about great change in the rigid mind-sets of the villagers. Awareness was raised regarding the importance of education, especially for girls, and discouraged the tradition of early and childhood marriages. There were many families in Dibh who did not send their children to schools. As a result of the theater performances, I am happy to add that all the young girls in my village attend school regularly now.

Earlier, most young girls were married at the age of fifteen years or whenever earlier a suitable proposal came for them. Parents rarely considered the age difference or the young age of the girls.

The burden of responsibility put on the young lives weakened their health and energy level. The continuous gender sessions helped build awareness and discouraged early marriages. Many people today still live with a very rigid mind-set and do not agree for women to work side by side with men. I think women should be able to work but within certain limits. I do not agree with the empowering of women concept as it is in the west, but they should not be kept locked in houses either. They must practice their right to be educated, to grow as a person and to develop their skills and knowledge,

confessed Yar.

In Dibh, decision-making processes were run by men. Women were less vocal and were dependent on the men to make the final decision in any matter, event or conflict. Meetings with steering committee members have built the confidence of women to speak up and share their opinions with the group.

Women need a platform and a source of encouragement to come forward. Today, gladly, men and women hold joint meeting to resolve the matters of the village. Moreover, women are now more confident and motivated towards life. They take the matters of their health more seriously as compared to before. Before this initiative, the women often adopted traditional remedies to cure health issues. But this has changed. They attend the nearby health facility to avail professional advice by the lady doctor and get proper treatment,

narrated Yar Muhammad.

We did not speak much before. Most of our days were spent in home errands and taking care of children. During the harvest season, women were engaged in field work for as long as eleven hours a day. It was a tough job and we hardly earnt a maximum income of PKR 200 a day (Approx. 4 U$D) and really not worth the hours spent in the harsh conditions in the fields,

said Nazia.

Sariyat, an eighteen-year-old girl’s parents did not agree to send her to the vocational center. As an unmarried young girl, her mother thought it was better for her to be engaged in home chores,

Nazia further narrated. The women members of the committee, including Nazia, met with the family to convince her parents. The family agreed. Sariyat joined the center as a member of the Women Enterprise Group (WEG) and is now working hard on the orders she receives at the center.

We are currently saving money as a committee to purchase a water machine for our village. This will benefit the village immensely as it will provide water to the village frequently. I have great hope for the development in our village. The skill development training has given our women a platform to further continue their work and support their families in future,

shared Yar Mohammad.

The artisans from Dibh have worked on many orders they got from buyers in Umerkot city, local markets and on Nida Azwer’s, a famous urban fashion designer, order. This WEG has received really good feedback from buyers as the work pace and quality of work has been market competitive,

shared Kiran on a positive note,

I gave them an order which was a month’s work of embroidery and stitching. The artisans collectively worked so fast that they completed the order in seven days. I was surprised to see the end product as the artisans never compromised on the quality of the handicrafts. The artisans aim at completing their orders soon so that they can receive other orders. They are truly ambitious and progressive.