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We are excited to announce that our application to the ACT Alliance has been formally approved. Community World Service Asia is now a proud ACT member. After going through a comprehensive application process, the ACT Alliance Governing Board approved our membership application in their meeting this May.

ACT Alliance is a coalition of more than 140 churches and affiliated organisations working together in over 140 countries to create positive and sustainable change in the lives of poor and marginalised people regardless of their religion, politics, gender, sexual orientation, race or nationality in keeping with the highest international codes and standards. The Alliance is supported by 25,000 staff from member organisations and mobilises about $1.5 billion for its work each year in three targeted areas: humanitarian aid; development; and advocacy. As an ACT member, Community World Service Asia strives to work for positive and sustainable change in the lives of people affected by poverty and injustice through coordinated and effective humanitarian, development, and advocacy work as defined by the Alliance’s united mission.

We would also like to take this opportunity to share that Community World Service Asia is the first ever local and regional organization to be a member of the ACT Pakistan Forum. To add further, we are also currently chairing the Pakistan Forum which makes us the first ever local chair in the country. ACT Pakistan Forum is a shared platform composed of Community World Service Asia, Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe (DKH) and Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) Pakistan, who are the members of ACT Alliance presently based in Pakistan and Christian Aid, Church of Sweden and ICCO Cooperation, who are supporting programs in Pakistan from abroad. The forum works with common interests defined broadly by their commitment to the mission, vision, and values of ACT Alliance in humanitarian disaster assistance.

The ACT Pakistan Forum is part of the ACT alliance and is not a separate entity which incorporates and reflects ACT policies and guidelines in its own operations. The Forum also provides input into the development of ACT Alliance policies and procedures.

In celebration of Global Earth Day, Community world Service Asia had organized tree-plantation activities in villages in Thatta, Sindh, with the communities it works with.

Cultural Activities on promoting environmental responsibility were conducted while the plantations were ongoing. Communities were also made aware of how these tree plantations help in disaster mitigation. Many children in the Phul Jhakro village took part in these planting activities. The communities understood the importance of such activities towards the protection of the planet and realized that the global community needs to stand together in doing so.

Community World Service Asia also collaborated with a boys’ school in Ahund Baradia, Thatta to organize activities on Global Earth Day on April 22nd. Students took part in a group activity divided under different topics such as “importance of plantation”, “flaws of deforestation” and “how to protect the earth” to showcase their understanding on the concerns. They also exhibited the safe village models that they had made to show the various DRR activities they have learnt through Community World Service Asia’s workshops. The model also displayed how the earth is made safer through tree plantation.

The main purpose of conducting these activities was to create awareness at different levels on environmental degradation and the benefits of tree plantation and how both of these impact climate change.

Community World Service Asia’s Capacity Institutionalization Project (CIP) demonstrates consistent accountability towards their partners through the provision of various skill trainings and workshops. Held in Islamabad, The advanced level training on financial management for development professionals organized and hosted by Community World Service Asia was designed to build capacity of staff engaged in the financial management of NGOs. The aim of the training was to coach them on modern techniques of budgeting, accounting, financial reporting and overall financial management.

Finance is an area that is often mismanaged and overlooked by many organizations; the result being, an ineffective financial structure. Finance is a major performance measurement tool which, if applied correctly, can influence the performance of the core activities of any organization. In most of organizations, financial management is only used in its’ traditional context for recording transactions and preparing basic level financial reports. While this training aimed to orient professionals on the many additional functions it has in the management of an organization.

Budgeting was amongst the main topics selected for the workshop. It was recognized that incorrect budgeting could lead to poor operations management which is why the concept of output based budgeting was introduced. Other topics included financial accounting, reporting and donor reporting. Many participants acknowledged that they had insufficient knowledge on trial balance and financial statements after which more emphasis was laid on the methods of preparing them. Participants were made to practice developing these in the sessions so that practical skill enhancement is achieved.

In addition to the sessions on creating financial statements based on international standards, financial reporting formats and templates of various donor agencies, such as The World Bank and The Asian Development Bank, were also discussed. Interpretation of financial reports for instance, ratios of donor dependency, survival of the organization and variance analysis were covered in detail in the context of its importance in achieving real time control on the operations and finance of an organization. Directly related to management of the organization, the last sessions focused on different economic safeguards for assets protection.

The training was facilitated by Noaman Ali, a certified Chartered Accountant, with more than twelve years of experience in the field of financial management, accounting, auditing and financial reporting. He has worked for more than eight years in the development sector and has also worked on public sector reform projects in the area of financial management. Mr. Ali has worked on a number of World Bank, UNAIDS, UNDP and Government of Pakistan projects.

An exhibition organized by Community World Service Asia (formerly CWS-P/A) was held at AQS Art Gallery in Islamabad on May 16th, 2015. The exhibition was supported by the US State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration in which a total of 15 NGOs displayed handmade dresses, artifacts and other handicraft items made by refugee and the women from the host communities in refugee camps in Islamabad, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan, Pakistan.

The event showcased handicrafts produced by community members from various projects. The income generated through this expo was invested back into the projects to support impoverished refugee women. One of the main purposes of the exhibition was also to provide a shared platform for NGOs and vendors, working on promoting handicrafts produced by women refugees, to engage in networking and to share their experiences and best practices among each other. The vibrant, day long exhibition was attended by donors, private sector individuals, and the refugee women and their families.

Community World Service Asia displayed products manufactured by widows and other vulnerable women participating in their Vocational Training and Market Development Program in Mansehra and Haripur at the bazaar. The projects aims to empower the refugee community with particular skills and to link these skilled individuals to the market. Since 2010, this skills development project has successfully enabled these communities to become self-sufficient and earn livelihoods for themselves and their families.

To support the rehabilitation of refugee communities in Pakistan, Community World Service Asia (formerly CWS-P/A) is implementing a Vocational Training and Market Development Project in Mansehra and Haripur as Gifts of the United States Government since 2010. The goal is to enhance self-reliance and increase income for men and women of Afghan Refugees and host community. A four-month program imparts certifiable skills training to men in welding, electrical works, carpentry, auto mechanics, auto electrician, motor cycle mechanic, plumbing and masonry. Women participate in handicraft and dress designing trades in affiliation with Skill Development Council Peshawar. Upon course completion, graduates received a tool kit designed for their respective trades, which enabled them to establish small scale businesses or more easily find employment in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

 

Community World Service Asia in partnership with The Sphere Project arranged a Sphere Focal Point Forum in Bangkok, Thailand in October 2014.

In this forum, participants from the Sphere Country Focal Points discussed challenges in promoting and implementing Sphere Standards in context to their respective work environments and regions. It was realized that these challenges revolve around five main themes essentially, capacity building, resources, coordination and collaboration, gaining commitment and working with the government.

The Focal Points worked in five different groups to discuss and present lessons learned and good practices focusing on the selected topics. As an outcome of this group exercise, five lessons learned sheets have been formulated to be shared with our readers and partners. To view these Lessons Learnt Sheets, please click here to download

Improving quality, accountability and people management: HAP and People In Aid merger concluding with the launch of the CHS Alliance

Bringing together more than two decades of experience in quality, accountability and people management, the CHS Alliance will form one of the largest and most influential networks in the humanitarian and development sector. It will be a truly global enterprise, with a membership of more than 200 organisations headquartered in 55 capitals and operating in more than 160 countries worldwide. The Alliance will benefit from the reputations, legacies and successful working practices of HAP International and People In Aid, the two organisations which merged to form the Alliance.

The Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability (CHS) is at the heart of the work of the CHS Alliance. The Alliance intends to establish the standard as a common reference framework for all actors who put communities and people affected by disaster, conflict or poverty at the centre of their work. Chair of the Alliance, Robert Glasser said that: “Given the broad consensus on the content of the CHS, we are proposing that this Standard be endorsed at the World Humanitarian Summit as a key framework to orient, assess and measure the quality, effectiveness and accountability of humanitarian assistance.” The CHS Alliance will continue to work with colleagues in the Sphere Project and Groupe URD and other stakeholders to support the widespread uptake of the CHS.

Laila Sheikh, the Regional Director of the Horn of Africa for Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the keynote speaker at the launch of the CHS Alliance said: “Switzerland’s commitment to standards is rooted in the belief that beneficiaries must be empowered to influence the type and the effectiveness of the humanitarian assistance they receive. Switzerland has a long tradition of supporting, as well as sponsoring initiatives and approaches that place affected people at the centre of aid delivery.

Spelling out clear accountability indicators towards affected people must automatically be paired with the promotion of standards as well as the continuous dissemination of knowledge. People in need are under any given circumstances entitled to be informed about their rights. In this regard, we believe that the CHS Alliance is an essential contribution to the empowerment of affected people.”

HAP and People In Aid have extensive expertise in the provision of services to members and partners in the humanitarian and development sectors. They have found that a mix of policy support, technical assistance, training and other capacity strengthening initiatives works best to meet the needs of individuals and diverse organisations. The Alliance will provide technical assistance and capacity strengthening in their three key areas of quality, accountability and people management. The Humanitarian Certification Initiative, an independent auditing body that will be launched in the coming months, will offer certification and external verification against the CHS.

From the moment of its launch as a Swiss Association on the 9 June 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya, the CHS Alliance will have a staff presence in Bogota, Geneva, London, Madrid, Nairobi and Yangon, and a governing board comprised of representatives from leaders in the humanitarian and development sectors worldwide.

At the launch event, the Chair, Robert Glasser, announced the appointment of Judith F. Greenwood as the incoming Executive Director of the CHS Alliance. Judith, an Irish National, will take up her position on 24 August 2015. She is currently head of the people management programme at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva.  She joined the ICRC in 2002 and has held senior management positions in Geneva and around the world, having previously worked with Concern Worldwide and the International Rescue Committee. Robert Glasser highlighted her proven ability to lead and manage diverse, multidisciplinary teams of all sizes, set effective priorities and achieve results, noting her record of having led both start-up and well established operations in over thirteen countries.

Judith said: “I am excited to be leading the CHS Alliance. The Alliance is a unique opportunity to galvanise the growing acceptance among all actors that assistance needs to be improved, and needs to be accountable to those for whom we work. I look forward to working closely with staff, members, donors and partners to further this aim.”

At the closing of the launch, the Chair called on all actors who work with communities and people affected by disaster, conflict or poverty to adopt, apply and promote the Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability.

For more information about how you can join the CHS Alliance and benefit from its services, please visit www.chsalliance.org

Media contacts
For more information and to arrange interviews please contact the CHS Alliance communications team, Murray Garrard, Siobhan O’Shea and Emily Tullock, at info@chsalliance.org

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Community World Service Asia conducted a workshop on “Coordination and Collaboration – Civil Military Relations and Red lines” in Kohat on April 2, 2015. A total of twenty five participants, coming from twelve various organizations, which also included universities from across Pakistan, attended the sessions. The workshop’s purpose was to provide guidance to attendants regarding the dos and don’ts when it comes to dealing with the military. The sessions were conducted by Humanitarian Affairs Officer, Mr Haseeb Saeed from UN OCHA, while co-facilitation was provided by Community World Service Asia representatives, Muhammad Sufyan and Sultan Haider.

The workshop’s purpose was to enhance the relations between the two parties, to reap better results, so that the beneficiaries can ultimately maximize their advantages at the receiving end. Mr Saeed encouraged all participants to highlight main obstacles that are faced by their organizations when it comes to interacting with the military. The problems put forward through a group activity varied from registering families of IDPs, lengthy processes of obtaining a No Objection Certificate (NOC), lack of coordination, security barriers, unnecessary and excessive interference without jurisdiction, entry to security sensitive regions as well as the unpleasant attitudes of military personnel. All issues pointed towards the hardships faced by NGOs in getting through to their target beneficiaries.

The workshop progressed in a categorical manner, by first disseminating information regarding involved actors and relevant principles amongst the listeners, moving further to the more complicated aspects, for their ease of understanding since this topic was comparatively new for the target audience. Terminologies that were previously unheard of for a majority of the attendants, such as the Humanitarian Country Team (HTC) and the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) were introduced, along with the process that goes on behind the curtains for the creation of policies and provision of facilitation.

In order to instigate an alternative perspective in the mind, activities such as asking participants to act like military officials for the duration of the workshop, were used. Examples of very real and relevant impediments, with specific focus on scenarios where immediate aid is obligatory, such as both manmade and natural disasters, were discussed over the course of the workshop. Instances of wars, floods, earthquakes and epidemics were covered, where in each case the participants were enlightened about formulating clusters and working groups to avoid delays and optimize their outreach.

Participants admitted to having gained both new knowledge and polishing their existing foundations for the development of better tactics to manage military presence. Discussing various levels of coordination from strategic, operational and field based points of view allowed participants to understand the importance of utilizing advocacy as the best tool.

Unfortunately, female participants, with the exception of a numbered few, were unable to vigorously partake in the workshop, due to lack of knowledge and experience with the topic. Deciphering amongst key players involved in military activity, such as the NDMA, through a group exercise conducted by Mr Sufyan was popular amongst the males, however, the females could not provide their input actively.

As a result, the workshop can be declared as no less than successful in getting across its message. Discussing the necessary limitations established by the military, all the while providing the participants with several methods to overcome these challenges with minimal wastage of energy and resources was ensured. The workshop accomplished its goal of defining the red lines for the civil society, to achieve the desired results within those lines is now up to the participants.

An awareness session on food and water hygiene was held in the Community World Service Asia Mansehra office and in three of its Basic Health Units in Barari, Khaki and Ichrian in celebration of the World Health Day on April 7, 2015. The discussions of the day were centered on the importance of consuming hygienic food. Community members were made aware of the many food borne illnesses that are prevalent due to lack of proper food management and unhygienic nutritional consumption.

Health experts from the MNCH Project team physically demonstrated the difference between hygienic and unhygienic food. They displayed how some food may appear to be safe for consumption but actually would not be. They taught ways of how community members could identify these food contaminations that otherwise go unnoticed, and sanitize their sustenance in a way that would make it safe for their consumption. As this year’s World Health Day’s international theme was “food safety”, the activities conducted in Mansehra focused mainly on the emerging health problems and diseases caused by unhygienic food consumption. A great emphasis was laid on the considerable amount of improvement in living conditions of communities if all individuals started being conscious of food safety.

The team based their awareness sessions on WHO’s guidelines on safer food and on how community members must incorporate these in their homes and villages. The five key points of the guidelines were to keep clean; to separate raw food from cooked food; to cook food thoroughly, to keep food at safe temperatures and to use clean water and cooking utensils.

Community World Service Asia celebrated the World Health Day to promote the “FROM FARM TO PLATE, MAKE FOOD SAFE” global campaign in an effort to streamline food safety through its projects and among the communities it works with.

In 2014, southern parts of Sindh experienced a continuing dry spell that inevitably lead to a drought crisis. Tharparkar, where the community’s livelihood depends mainly on livestock management and seasonal farming activities, is one of the most affected districts in Sindh. Following the drought, a scarcity in food and livestock resulted in the death of 650 people. This was mainly due to the lack of drinking water and feed for farming animals. Hundreds of children are reported to be suffering from pneumonia and diarrhea which is constantly adding to the cases of acute malnutrition in the area.

To overcome the alarming food security and nutrition requirements, Community World Service Asia initiated food assistance for drought affected families in the district from the month of February, 2015. In close coordination with local government authorities, nine villages and two bordering hamlets were identified in Taluka Chachro and Dahli of Tharparkar district. Twenty two village committees (VCs) are formed to promote coordination and assist in sharing information to ensure the full participation of communities in this project.

Moreover, our teams were assisted by the VCs in selection of 1,800 households for food assistance, with a priority given to orphans, people with disabilities, widows, and female-headed households. Each family will receive a food package as per minimum Sphere standards consecutively for seven months. The duration of the response is designed in consideration of the immediate food needs and the harvesting time of seasonal crops. In Tharparkar, farmers usually begin to plant seeds after the forecasted rainfall in the month of June, which is projected to harvest after seventy days of planting. The affected communities are also expecting an increase in availability of drinking water for their livestock following the rain.

Two rounds of food distribution are completed since the commencement of the project until now. Our team on the ground is regularly coordinating with stakeholders by participating in cluster meetings, working groups and general coordination meetings. This is done to ensure the sharing of information, to learn from each other’s’ experiences and to avoid duplication.

This assistance is possible with generous support from Canadian Foodgrains Bank and Presbyterian World Service & Development.

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International Women’s Day

The International Women’s Day 2015 #Make it Happen represents a celebration of the achievements of women in Pakistan towards a more inclusive and equitable society. Partnership for Resilience (P4R) Pakistan marked the Day with a lively debate to raise awareness and encourage dialogue with all sectors of society around effective action for women’s empowerment.

The debate titled “Make it happen – All overseas development funding should address gender equality and gender based violence to build resilient and safe communities in Pakistan”, brought together key players involved in disaster and development in Pakistan including the government and civil and private sectors. Ms. Annette Hearns, Deputy Head UNOCHA, Mr Qazi Azmat Isa, CEO Pakistan Pverty Alleviation Fund, Ms Abida Akram, National Forum for Women with Disabilities/STEP, Ms Khalida Salimi, OBE, Founder/Executive Director SACH, Ms Mossarrat Qadeem, Executive Director, Paiman Alumini Trust, Ms Asiya Nasir, Member National Assembly  were actively involved in making the event a success.  Ms Asiya Nasir was also the chief guest at the occasion.

Addressing the occasion, Chief Executive Officer, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF), Qazi Azmat Isa, focused on the empirical link between gender related outcomes and improved socio-economic indicators, emphasizing on Pakistan’s lack of progress on Human Development Index indicators as we feature amongst the lowest 10 countries on the continuum. He referred to both religious and traditional values that encourage rather than hinder such outcomes, particularly while working with rural communities. He referred to Pakistan’s position on achieving the Millennium Development Goals and commented on how working through deliberate, gender centered outcomes would greatly improve this.

The debate centered on the facts that in early recovery programmes, only 22 per cent of funds from cash contributions were directly disbursed to women in 2013 while more than 75 per cent of the 80 million people projected to be in need of humanitarian assistance in 2014 were women and children.

P4R support the many voices now being heard in Pakistan advocating for improvement in women and girls’ equality and one who stands out as  an example of who ‘made it happen’ is Malala Yousafzai, joint winner of the 2014 Nobel peace prize for her education campaign work.

P4R is an alliance of seven NGOs working together in Pakistan to improve the lives of vulnerable and marginalized segments of the population in times of disaster and post disaster. By working for and through local communities P4R builds the capacity of communities to be more resilient in time of disaster and enable them to recover quicker.

“2015 is a critical year for gender equality, as this year global leaders will conclude three key global processes that set the development agenda for the next 15 years: the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) following Millennium Development Goals, the post 2015 Hyogo Framework 2, and the Climate Change agenda. This is a unique opportunity for us to urge our Governments to ensure gender equality is not forgotten and call for a standalone goal on gender to be set in the SDGs, with clear targets and indicators for women’s empowerment and participation. This must, I feel, go further, with gender specific commitments cutting across all SDG goals and each of the 3 global processes. This is an opportune time for the Government of Pakistan to take up the banner for gender equality and champion it on the global stage”, said Neva Khan, Country Director of VSO and Chair of the P4R Steering Committee.

Each year, since 1911, International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. Thousands of events occur to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women across the world. International Women’s day is also known for its #Paint it purple tag where the colour purple represents justice and dignity, two values upheld by P4R and used by all organizations in solidarity as we call for greater equality.