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Rizwan Iqbal from Community World Service Asia welcomed the guest speakers and students during the opening session.

In recent years, the world has become increasingly aware of the disastrous impacts of natural hazards and climate change. In an effort to minimize the damages and adverse consequences caused by natural forces, humanity has united together time and again with global frameworks and commitments. The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and Goal 11 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2015-30 are some of the key commitments global communities are working towards.

As signatories to these global commitments, Pakistan is compelled to make advances in its investments and efforts in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and to draw a roadmap for its successful implementation and streamlining into national policies and development goals.

Guided by its strategic priorities and in pursuance of Pakistan’s national DRR agenda, Community World Service Asia conducted a two-day DRR conference and a one-day exhibition in collaboration with the University of Sindh in Jamshoro and Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) in Sindh, Pakistan in October (2017). This was the first of its kind conference ever to be conducted on DRR in the country.

This conference is the initial step in building awareness [of DRR] amongst people. The two-day conference and one-day exhibition will help develop participants’ understanding with regards to DRR and the important steps that must be taken for it. The awareness they are receiving can be incorporated in their future plans of working on DRR,

expressed Mohammad Ali Sheikh, Director Operation of PDMA, Sindh, who was guest speaker at the DRR conference in Sindh.

Professor Dr. Fateh Muhammad Burfat, Vice Chancellor, University of Sindh, officially opened the event and welcomed an audience of 383 participants, including 300 men and 83 women, at the national conference which was held at their University campus in Jamshoro. The conference gave a platform to climate specialists, relevant scholars, educationalists, government representatives, civil society members, humanitarian and development practitioners and students to speak on the topic and share ideas and experiences on DRR, its implementation and benefits.

A large number of students, academia members and local NGO representatives attended the conference. Participants at the conference and exhibition varied between experienced DRR and DRM practitioners and those planning to work on DRR in the future. Local and international organizations such as Kacchi Community Development Association, Oxfam, Muslim Aid, Participatory Village Development Program, University of Peshawar, Malteser International, Municipal Committee Bolhari, Tearfund are among the many that participated in this national event.

The broader objective of the conference was for participants to generate awareness and information on DRR and share the good practices and lessons learnt in the application of DRR while working with communities around the world. Through this, Community World Service Asia aimed to encourage networking between those involved in DRR and to avoid the duplication of DRR efforts, particularly in Sindh. This broader objective was further divided into more specific aims that were outlines in the conference agenda:

Ghazala Nadeem[1], DRR Expert, gave an introduction to the conference and exhibition and explained its objective to the audience,

CWSA is co-hosting this Conference and one day exhibition in collaboration with University of Sindh and PDMA, sharing knowledge, experience and efforts on the subject to a wider range of stakeholders envisaging opportunities for future collaborations, building on the past investments and avoiding duplication of DRR efforts & resources.

In addition, the Director of PDMA Sindh shared the overall functions and role of PDMA Sindh in the field of DRR and Disaster Risk Management (DRM). The Director also oriented participants on PDMA Sindh’s future plans, such as district disaster mapping and the establishment of Rescue 1122 at a district level.

We are also in the stage of planning to establish a Provincial Disaster Management Institute which will aim at disseminating knowledge in relation to DRR.

Over twenty guest speakers from various organizations and fields shared their knowledge on specialized aspects of DRR and DRM. Presentations ranged from Urban Search and Rescue Project to Research on Local Capacity Building on DRR.

The first 24 hours following any disaster are the golden hours for saving lives. For this reason, National Disaster Management Authority, Pakistan initiated the establishment of Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams in different parts of the country,

shared Col. Aijaz, General Manager ConPro Service, at the DRR Conference. He further added that the USAR teams are capable of national and international assistance in sudden onset of disasters. The members of the USAR teams are trained by a pool of internationally trained instructors.

However, there is a need to further advance the teams; refresher courses and joint exercises of the existing teams need to be conducted to update knowledge and skills of the team members.

Abdul Qayoom Bhutto, Director, Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), ilustrated PMD’s Early Warning System (EWS) of DRR.

PMD’s EWS of DRR mitigates the potential damages for sustained socio-economic development from various natural hazards including floods, cyclones, landslides, drought, heavy rains and more. We have a combination of technology and associated policies and procedures designed to predict and mitigate the harm of natural and human-induced disasters. To further advance the functions of PMD, continuous coordination among stakeholders at all levels are required.

The Sendai Framework recognizes that while the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk, responsibilities should be shared with other stakeholders including local governments, the private sector and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Moreover, social work students have to be knowledgeable of the Sendai framework of action to be able to intervene in disaster related problems,

shared Dr. Ibrar, University of Peshawar, during his session on Social Work and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. On both days of the presentation-based conference, the discussions and question-and-answer sessions facilitated participants’ engagement on Disaster Risk Reduction and Disaster Risk Management (DRM) issues. These discussions were an effective platform to engage the youth, encouraging them to use their enthusiasm and skills in DRR and DRM projects. The participants shared their vision for inspiring and equipping students for DRR and DRM and developing a task force to respond to any future district-level emergency.

What did the conference achieve?

The conference helped bridge the gap between DRR professionals working on field and DRR experts researching on DRR-compliant infrastructures. Attendants left the conference with a greater knowledge of disaster resilience and management, which would help strengthen and develop organizational structures on the theme. Some were also able to discuss prospective partnerships and collaborative work. Ideas such as possible collaborative trainings for District Disaster Management Authority staff and university volunteers on Urban Search and Rescue were also highlighted. Moreover, the participants discussed promoting research-oriented DRR initiatives among each other.

Both structural and non-structural DRR initiatives would benefit communities by bringing technical and social research into practice. Participants agreed that it is important to establish effective policy and legal arrangements for mainstreaming DRR into safety regulations, like building codes, and other development laws. Not only would this help protect people from the adverse impact of natural disasters but it would also support the availability of appropriate financial and technical resources for DRR at local and national levels.

To highlight the good work of local, national and international organization in the area of DRR in Sindh, Community World Service Asia organized a one day Exhibition showcasing best practices and visibility material on the initiatives taken so far. A number of organizations had set up stalls at this exhibition held at the Sindh University and provided live demonstrations of emergency and relief services. This initiative helped in promoting the various DRR models practically and also acted as a bridge connecting researchers, students and NGOs to work in a collaborative way.

Omar Qayyum, a student of the Social Work Department of the University of shared,

The National DRR Conference and Exhibition was an unprecedented event conducted in University of Sindh. This was a new learning experiencing for all of us, as [DRR] is a very important topic. It is vital for the [social work] department since we will be able to play an active role in promoting DRR through our social work. It further enhanced our knowledge in how to keep ourselves safe from the natural disasters which are continual and often unpredictable.

Rashid Hussain, another student, corroborated,

We now know which organizations to approach for information or aid at times of disasters. The guest speakers shared their valuable contribution in the field of DRR. As a social worker, I will be able to share my learning about preparing oneself in times of emergencies with local communities. I plan to research on future trainings on disaster management so that I can volunteer my services if any emergency situation arises.

The National Conference on DRR was highly appreciated and the various stakeholders of DRR interventions have been encouraged to enhance and increase their work on helping build disaster resilient communities and decrease disaster impacts through informative workshops and engaging discussions conducted during the three day event.

[1] As one of founding member of ‘Resilience Group’; a young dynamic consulting house, Ghazala is providing disaster risk reduction expertise and consultation to various national and international organizations, especially I/NGOs, in the areas of Disaster Emergency Response, Risk Management, Capacity Building, Architecture & Programme Development. Ghazala has been involved in (regional) tsunami research along Makran & Sindh coast with national & international organizations/ experts, results and activities are available http://iotic.ioc-unesco.org/1945makrantsunami

Farmer families in Badin trained in Kitchen Gardening through Clay Pitcher Technology with the purpose to grow vegetables

Many rural communities in Badin have benefited from Community World Service Asia’s and CFGB’s Food security project, which started in 2015. This initiative seeks to ensure food security and sustainability in rural areas by providing villagers innovative farming skills. By doing this, they are positively impacting the community sustainably by guiding them on how to acquire their own necessities rather than merely distributing tangible products such as food kits or shelters. Through the project, villagers are encouraged to become self-sufficient instead of dependent on external assistance.

Using various methods, the project is equipping rural communities of Badin with essential knowledge on health, nutrition, and sustainable agriculture. The project recently held a Farmers Festival for women farmers to celebrate World Food Day and the achievements of these farmers over the last two years. The festival featured many performances, including poem recitals, song competitions, and two didactic dramas enacted by local children and the village’s theater group, which has been formed as part of Community World Service Asia’s projects in the area. More than three hundred and fifty women from Union Council Khairpur Gambo and Pangario of Badin and fifteen elementary school students from the same area participated in the festival. The children (students) enlightened the attendees at the festival on the  importance of kitchen gardening, tree plantations, good nutrition, environment conservation and the history of World Food Day through tableau performances. Representatives from the National Rural Support Programme (NRSP), Participatory Village Development Programme (PVDP), Arche Nova, Society for Safe Environment and Welfare of Agrarians in Pakistan (SSEWA-Pak) and Local Support Organizations (LSOs) also participated at the festival.

I came to this festival because the project staff has become like family. They teach us so much that I respect them. When I received the invitation to this festival, I was very excited to attend the event. The atmosphere in this festival is delightful. It is a wonderful opportunity for us women to come out of our houses, enjoy ourselves, and learn. What we learn will help us change our lives,

remarked, Fozia Iftikar one of the farmers at the festival.

The mother of four children, aged between 4-11 years, Fozia deeply cares for her family. She hopes that her children will be able to learn vocational skills that will help them in the future but has not yet been able to find an opportunity for them. Fozia lives in Shukaraldin, a rural village of Badin, where her husband works as a farmer on a small plot of his own land. Due to the nature of his work, Fozia’s husband does not earn a steady monthly income. Fozia explained,

After every six months, my husband sells whatever crop he has been growing on the land, and we live off the profits. However, we have to wait for that income since some crops, like cotton and peppers, take six months until they are ready to sell.

Fozia is not able to do full-time work because of her young children, but she does sewing at home. She rarely receives sewing commissions, and when she does, they are usually from relatives. Thus, the family’s main source of income is through her husband’s farming. The family is dependent on the water and weather for their crop’s wellbeing, creating an unstable financial foundation for the family.

Two years ago, Fozia started growing a kitchen garden after the team came to her village and began to teach the community about health and nutrition. They encouraged the villagers to create kitchen gardens so that families would have food security and eat more healthily. Fozia shared,

We learn a lot from the project team who taught us about health and hygiene. Because of this teaching, my family has been able to prosper. We didn’t know anything about growing vegetables until they taught us about it. My family did not pay any attention to health, but now we are all very interested in this matter.

Community World Service Asia holds teaching sessions in Fozia’s village once or twice a month. The staff teaches the community members about agricultural techniques so that kitchen gardeners will be able to maintain their produce. Sessions for men on  fishing and other food-gaining practices are also held.

Fozia confidently asserted that it is easy to maintain her kitchen garden, and she appreciates the change—in terms of finances and health—that it has brought in her family.

I am very happy,

she expressed,

I like eating my freshly grown vegetables. The healthiest diet for my family is to eat our homegrown vegetables.

Ever since Fozia’s family has been eating homegrown vegetables, the family has had some extra money, initially used to purchase vegetables. They use it on other household necessities, such as oil, sugar, clothes, and the children’s school books. Moreover, when Fozia’s kitchen garden has excess vegetables, she either sells them to generate more income, or she gives them to people who do not have any food.

Fozia has also noticed that her family’s health has improved. She estimates that in a year, there may be one or two illnesses among her children, but no more than that. Furthermore, she noted that her family is much more energetic than they were when they ate vegetables from town.

This kitchen garden has had positive effects on my family. We eat clean and healthy food which has improved our health,

Fozia declared.

Fozia’s children did not like eating vegetables before, so the family often ate lentils, the children’s favorite meal. Fozia did not know the nutritional value of vegetable before. However, after Community World Service Asia began holding sessions in her village, she discovered that their diet was unhealthy. Now, the family consumes vegetables at least once a day rather than only once or twice a week as they did previously. After Fozia began attending the sustainable farming sessions, her family has much more variety in their diet.

The vegetables that we used to buy in town are grown with polluted water, and they were always several days old when we bought them. On the other hand, the water I use to grow my vegetables at home is clean, safe water. Our homegrown vegetables are much fresher than the ones in town. We grow all sorts of vegetables at home, such as tomatoes, cauliflowers, pumpkins, squash, and many more. Homegrown food is optimal for my family’s wellbeing.

Rural women have been trained in kitchen gardening under the food security project. Fozia Iftikhar is just one of many women who have benefited from the project. Another woman farmer, Heeri, from village Prem Nagar, Jhudo, expressed herself at the farmers’ festival,

The kitchen gardening training build our skills and knowledge in growing vegetables at home. Before this, we always had to buy vegetables from the nearby market which was not only tasteless but also difficult to purchase due to high prices. With the kitchen gardening training and vegetable seeds provided by the livelihoods team, we are no more dependent on our men to fetch vegetables from the nearby market.

 She further added that the nutrition training also helped enhance inclination towards taking healthy and balanced diets through the food that is available to them.

Nasreen, another farmer, from Shukarddin Araen village, Jhudo, further added,

Kitchen gardening is a ray of hope for me and my family. My family enjoys fresh and chemical free vegetables from our garden. In addition, I have earned PKR 35000 by selling fresh vegetables in nearby markets. This has improved our standard of living.

The community will continue these kitchen gardens. We did not force this project on people. All we did was sensitized and mobilized them. People are beginning to realize the benefits of kitchen gardens themselves,

a staff member of the project assured.

Hundred percent of the target families have been trained in nutrition and kitchen gardening, providing fresh vegetables at the doorstep of villagers. Families were provided with vegetables seeds to grow in their kitchen gardens. This availability of vegetable at their doorstep not only increased diversity in their meals but also enhanced the quality and quantity of food consumption of the targeted families. A periodic survey report revealed that acceptable food consumption score of the targeted families have increased up to 70% at the end of second year of the project implementation. This was at 43 % initially. Through the teaching sessions in villages, the food security project staff hopes to see continued development in the communities of Badin. The change evidenced in the lives of village women, such as Fozia Iftikhar, reveals that the project is bringing the world one step closer to achieving the second sustainable development goal: Zero Hunger.

The use of visual communication in documents and presentations not only facilitates anchoring the attention of readers and retaining higher recall value but also makes content easy to comprehend; saving time and reducing reading fatigue. And most importantly, visual content incites a relationship of empathy and emotions between the reader and the subject or scenario described. Recognizing the value addition of this form of communication, there is an increased demand of more visual representation in reports, documents, and presentations in the aid and development sector as well. Reports with more visual data and information have higher readability and a greater acceptance by the audience. With the dynamics changing, the use of visual communication is becoming more and more essential.

Mehar Aftab Salma, Communications Officer in Aga Khan Planning and Building Service (AKPBS), Pakistan, rightly identifies these changing dynamics,

The way people consume their information is changing dramatically each and every day. With the rise in mediums such as blogging, live-tweeting, and video streaming, the way you reach your audience is never going to be the same again.

Mehar started working with the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) when she was undertaking her Bachelors degree in Computer Sciences. She has been affiliated with AKDN for more than ten years now. “

I have worked under different agencies of Aga Khan Development Network. For more than six years, I was working with Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) in Gilgit, which focused on working for poverty reduction and socio- economic development. I am currently a Communications Officer at the Aga Khan Planning and Building Service, Pakistan (AKPBSP)

Today, it’s easy for information to get lost or overlooked if it is not in an easily consumable format. Integrating visual content into your regular and annual reporting can boost the level of information your audience can absorb and remember.

A picture is worth a thousand words, and when it comes to capturing your audience’s attention, you want to take full advantage of every chance you get to communicate your message,

says Mehar Aftab. She further elaborated that her field of work encouraged her to continue studying in a related field of her choice which allowed her to complete her Masters in Business Administration with specialization in Marketing.

The best part of my job is the different mode of communications I use to connect with the audience. We communicate through images, photo stories, case studies, news articles, videos and documentaries.

My role focuses on developing and sharing weather updates, monitoring media, developing quarterly e-newsletters, collaborating with other organizations on similar themes, drafting press releases and media briefs, development of IEC material for awareness raising, event and activity reporting and developing documentaries to share project challenges as well as successes.  In times of disasters, my role becomes that of an emergency communicator in which I am in continuous coordination with the program departments established close to or at the disaster area, for updates. In order to be accurate and updated with the right kind of information, I gather updates through phone or by travelling to the concerned area. By the end of the day, a situation report produced with details of the disaster and assistance being provided by AKDN agencies

.

Prior to the training, Mehar worked on Coral Draw, Photoshop and Publisher for photo designing and editing.

Having a basic understanding of the software, I managed to work on the software. There were times when I needed to go through some tutorials or ask a friend for technical help. Through a colleague, I got to know about the Visual Communications Course offered by Community World Service Asia. It immediately caught my attention and I wanted to attend this training as it was a good learning opportunity. The agenda of the training was delivering the theoretical and practical aspects of visual communications which I thought was very interesting.  The techniques and visual modes are constantly changing with time in the communications field. For this I believed that the training would help update us on concepts, knowledge and skills to deliver advanced and appealing visual content. In addition, I was expecting a platform of a diverse group of people from the communication and development world and an opportunity to share learning experiences with them.

My learning started from the day I heard about the training. I was eager to attend the training but it was difficult to leave my thirteen-year old daughter behind for seven days with my husband. The team was very cooperative and offered to accommodate me with my child. Hence with the support of Community World Service Asia’s team, I managed to maintain my work and motherhood balance,

shared Mehar with a smile.

During the seven-day training on Tools of Visual Communication in the Development Sector, conducted in Murree this July, participants were enlightened with basic knowledge and the technicalities of visual communications. This included theoretical sessions on the various terms, formats and new modes of communication as well as practical sessions on how to use basic and latest communication equipment and softwares to develop content and achieve effective visual communication.

I knew the basic handling techniques of DSLR. However, the minor details of how to capture an impactful picture with all details like framing, posture of sitting, focus of subject, bringing out the inspirational and motivational aspect of pictures was new to me in the training. In addition, the diverse group of people differed in theme of work, age and organizations. Their experiences were different and to know their experience and challenges and how they overcame it in their work was a wonderful learning opportunity.

There were many young participants in the training who were more experienced with camera and tripod handling. They helped me during the practical sessions on how to use the DSLR and with placing it correctly on the tripod and how to use the tripod most effectively. The most interesting learning for me was when a participant from Doaba shared his knowledge and practice at work. Doaba also works in disaster management. He shared that he publishes information on areas or people which have experienced living through disasters to raise awareness and share information. It was an innovative approach which I thought of initiating once I got back too. This will allow a comprehensive awareness to the reading audience.

The training covered all aspects of visual communications.

The session on video making was all-inclusive. The facilitator, Imran Lashari, briefed all participants on how to edit and add relevant coverage through the use of Premiere Pro, software for professional video production. Graphical inputs were explained to make videos appealing and effective. Participants were also trained to provide technical feedback when reviewing and finalizing documentaries.

Normally the development of documentaries and videos are out-sourced. The communications department is in constant correspondence with them delivering all details required to showcase in the videos. Mehar was unable to provide technical feedback prior to the Visual Communications Training. The final piece of video had to be reviewed in detail but Mehar lacked in technical knowledge, therefore was unable to share feedback in relation to the post-production of the video.

The team hired for documentary making consists of technical experts. The training assisted in enhancing knowledge in the technicalities of video making,

added Mehar,

After the training, I have worked on two documentaries with the consultant teams. One focused on disaster management is in its finalization process and the video footage for the other is being gathered. While sharing inputs, I analyzed all aspects and gave detailed reviews. The consultant team was quite impressed and recommended me to join a video production house. Moreover, we are making an animated clip for the community and school students focusing on avalanche preparedness. During its initial briefing with the consultant, I confidently shared descriptive ideas on how to capture videos to make the clip short and crisp.

There is a need to deliver the right kind of message through videos and pictures to make a real impact.

We develop a lot of IEC material for disaster preparedness, health, hygiene and safer habitat awareness and it includes manuals, brochures, posters and briefs which are printed and distributed in various communities.  The newly learnt skills will really support me in developing impactful content which will help in delivering effective messages to the audiences.

I am more confident on providing feedback on visual content I receive from teams or consultants now. Even while developing a presentation, I am more selective of which picture to use to relate perfectly with the written text. The understanding of connectivity has been built which has improved the quality of my work. The quality of our visibility material has improved exceptionally with this new found essence of innovation.

Community World Service Asia works with rural, disaster prone communities in Sindh to improve their disaster resilience through trainings, awareness and other capacity building initiatives. We focus on raising awareness on Disaster Risk Reduction among women, men, boys and girls to enable them to respond effectively to future emergencies. We do this not only to reduce the level of vulnerable groups in any disaster but also promote a level of sustainability.

Trainings on DRR are imparted through the use of a Mobile Knowledge Resource Centre (MKRC), a training vehicle for disaster preparedness, which uses simulation models and hands-on group activities to engage students, youth and community members.

Dissemination of other informational material such as posters, videos on DRR and implementing practical evacuations and exercises in schools in rural Sindh are among the resilience building activities we engage children and youth groups in. These videos on DRR are part of our Resilience Building campaign shown to children and youth groups in vulnerable and disaster prone rural areas of Pakistan.

Community World Service Asia works with rural, disaster prone communities in Sindh to improve their disaster resilience through trainings, awareness and other capacity building initiatives. We focus on raising awareness on Disaster Risk Reduction among women, men, boys and girls to enable them to respond effectively to future emergencies. We do this not only to reduce the level of vulnerable groups in any disaster but also promote a level of sustainability.

Trainings on DRR are imparted through the use of a Mobile Knowledge Resource Centre (MKRC), a training vehicle for disaster preparedness, which uses simulation models and hands-on group activities to engage students, youth and community members.

Dissemination of other informational material such as posters, videos on DRR and implementing practical evacuations and exercises in schools in rural Sindh are among the resilience building activities we engage children and youth groups in. These videos on DRR are part of our Resilience Building campaign shown to children and youth groups in vulnerable and disaster prone rural areas of Pakistan.

Community World Service Asia works with rural, disaster prone communities in Sindh to improve their disaster resilience through trainings, awareness and other capacity building initiatives. We focus on raising awareness on Disaster Risk Reduction among women, men, boys and girls to enable them to respond effectively to future emergencies. We do this not only to reduce the level of vulnerable groups in any disaster but also promote a level of sustainability.

Trainings on DRR are imparted through the use of a Mobile Knowledge Resource Centre (MKRC), a training vehicle for disaster preparedness, which uses simulation models and hands-on group activities to engage students, youth and community members.

Dissemination of other informational material such as posters, videos on DRR and implementing practical evacuations and exercises in schools in rural Sindh are among the resilience building activities we engage children and youth groups in. These videos on DRR are part of our Resilience Building campaign shown to children and youth groups in vulnerable and disaster prone rural areas of Pakistan.

Community World Service Asia works with rural, disaster prone communities in Sindh to improve their disaster resilience through trainings, awareness and other capacity building initiatives. We focus on raising awareness on Disaster Risk Reduction among women, men, boys and girls to enable them to respond effectively to future emergencies. We do this not only to reduce the level of vulnerable groups in any disaster but also promote a level of sustainability.

Trainings on DRR are imparted through the use of a Mobile Knowledge Resource Centre (MKRC), a training vehicle for disaster preparedness, which uses simulation models and hands-on group activities to engage students, youth and community members.

Dissemination of other informational material such as posters, videos on DRR and implementing practical evacuations and exercises in schools in rural Sindh are among the resilience building activities we engage children and youth groups in. These videos on DRR are part of our Resilience Building campaign shown to children and youth groups in vulnerable and disaster prone rural areas of Pakistan.

A two-day workshop on the Sendai Framework for Action (SFA), an international legal framework for implementing disaster risk reduction (DRR) projects, was conducted for stakeholders of the humanitarian and disaster management community in Kabul, Afghanistan this November. The workshop was conducted by Community World Service Asia and supported by the Japan Platform (JFP) and the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA). The prime objective of the workshop was to orient participants on the SFA, enhance their understanding in order to use it more effectively and to identify its gaps while working in the Afghanistan context.

A total of sixty humanitarian actors and policy makers representing the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation, Ministry of Energy and Water (MEW), Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock MAIL, UN Agencies (UN-WFP, UN-IOM) , Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA), INGOs, and NGOs, participated in this learning event.

Afghanistan being a signatory to the SFA, the ANDMA took an active part in the workshop and their Director of International Relations, Mohammad Omar Mohammadi, also welcomed the audience and expressed his gratitude towards Community World Service Asia for arranging this workshop. He believed that this workshop would really enhance ANDMA staff’s level of understanding on the framework and would further enable them to improve the implementation of DRR activities and policies at a national level.

Emmeline Mae Managbanag, Deputy Director at Community World Service Asia (CWSA) in Afghanistan briefed the participants on CWSA’s DRR initiatives, coordination, and partnership with ANDMA since 2008. She further conveyed that the organization has been active in DRR through a number of projects. This was followed by a presentation by Ezzatullah Siddiqui, advisor to the ANDMA. He introduced the workshop overview and explained Afghanistan’s overall disaster management system and its current international cooperation on DRR status.

The workshop included both presentations on SFA and practical group activities on its various priorities and outcomes. Participants knowledge on key SFA areas such as its history dating back to the Hyogo Framework for Action, it’s scope and purpose, expected outcomes, targets, priorities for action, guidance principles and stakeholder roles was developed and in some cases further enhanced.

Participants representing UN agencies and iMMA shared their DRR policies and projects and its impact in Afghanistan so that other participants, specially ANDMA, could learn from their experiences and would subsequently help them in preparing their national report on the Sendai Framework for Action. In a group activity participants explored gap analyses of the DRR work in Afghanistan. They specifically focused on the areas of the country that needed improved national level DRR initiatives. Through the group exercise, participants learnt how to identify and address  gaps on Capacity, Implementation, Systems, resourcing and coordination mechanism in DRR work in the country.

This group work allowed participants to share their experiences on improvement in the field in Afghanistan. Participants learnt a lot from each other. The workshop facilitator advised participants on how to use SFA for DRR. He discussed the application areas of SFA for each organization, main actions points to use for SFA and the support required for implementation of the framework.

Participants’ knowledge and understanding was assessed through an evaluation test post training.  The average pre-test score was 30% while the post-test score was 75%. This reveals a 45% improvement in participants’ understanding on the Sendai Framework for Action workshop.

Participants, including ANDMA key personnel, agreed to use Sendai Framework for Action and showed their commitment towards its successful implementation.

Community World Service Asia, with the support of Act for Peace (AfP) has set up three Rural Health Centres (RHC) in in the villages of Nabiser, Dhoronaro and Hyder Farm, located in the Umerkot district of Sindh in Pakistan since 2015. These health centres are run and managed by Community World Service Asia and are supporting more than 100,000 people in the district. The RHCs provide routine OPDs, Reproductive Health Services, Family Planning Services, Health Education Sessions, Antenatal and Postnatal services, and also provide free of cost medication and a full range of preventive health coverage.

The community mobilizers assigned with these RHCS regularly visit and monitor the catchment population to mobilize, organize and increase the awareness of the communities residing in these areas on health issues. They are also delivering health awareness sessions for men and women in their villages and for children in their schools.

Access to well-equipped health facilities is a major issue for most rural communities in Sindh. In order to provide health services nearly at the doorstep of these deprived communities, free medical camps were organized in three different Union Councils in the farther catchment areas of the RHCs. The religious ethnicities of the communities where the medical camps were set up were mainly Hindu and Muslims, belonging to different sects and castes of each religion.

The Medical camps services focused primarily on Mother and Child Care. The first two camps were set up at the Syed Muhammad Memon village and Abdul Majeed Arain village through the 24th and 25th of November, while the third camp was organized at the Daim Nohri village on the 30th November. Apart from delivering free consultations, free medicines were also provided to patients visiting the camps. Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI), Gastritis, Diarrhea, flu and fever were found to be the most common health concerns while diagnosing patients at these camps.

Antenatal cards were also issued to pregnant women visiting the medical camps and were advised to visit their nearby Rural Health Center for further consultation and medication. The lady medical officers at the camps shared key awareness messages on the importance and methods of family planning. Community Mobilizers conducted sessions on Child Spacing, family planning and the importance of check-ups during pregnancy among camp visitors as well.

A focal person from the town committee also visited the medical camp and appreciated the efforts of the health team involved and emphasized on the need to conduct these camps on a monthly basis.

The three villages where the camps were set up were all at a distance of seven to nine kilometres from the district of Umerkot. These areas were identified as the most vulnerable in terms of access to health facilities and frequency of diseases. Most of the community members from these villages are unskilled laborers and farmers who cannot afford expensive medical treatment or travel costs to health centres in the cities.

Honestly, neither the students nor was I actually enjoying the lessons,

confessed 3rd grade Mathematics teacher Inayatullah. Teaching at the Zangue Girls High School in Behsood District of Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, for the past four years, Inayatullah has a students capacity of 77 in each of his two classes.

In these four years of his teaching,  Inayatullah had been using traditional teaching methods that he had learned during his academic years. Rather than engaging his students in the classroom, he taught them through lectures and theory based learning methods which led the students to lose interest in the subject and topics taught. This was damaging the quality of the school’s education standards and was leading to absenteeism. Inayatullah had not been introduced to new and interactive teaching methods then so he went with what he knew only.  With time, Inayatullah observed that many students in his class could not even identify [alphabet] letters easily and were not able to combine letter to spell or read our words properly. This was very worrisome for him as a teacher as well as for the institute.

In March 2016, Inayatullah got the opportunity to participate in a five-day teachers training conducted by Community World Service Asia. The training was conducted for school teachers to learn about new teaching methodologies to be able to establish child friendly classroom environments and to motivate students towards learning. It focused on enhancing teachers’ capacities on being more interactive in their teaching styles and finding ways of actively involving students in daily classroom activities. The teachers were trained on development and utilization of various low and no cost teaching methods and teaching aid materials. Moreover, the teachers were encouraged to form student groups in their classes, assign various tasks to each group and conduct group work exercises with them to ensure students involvement in classroom activities. This will bring into practise the learning by doing theory. As a result of this training, the teachers adopted different teaching methods and started using colorful and visually appealing materials during classroom learning sessions making the lessons easily understandable and interesting for their students.

One activity introduced to the teachers in the training was the “Morning Meetings”. This, among other exercises, was something new and interesting for Inayatullah. Teachers were encouraged to use the Morning Meeting activity to help students and teachers interact with each other through questions and answers. A simple question like “What is your favourite fruit?” would spark up conversations regarding likes and dislikes of students and teachers.

I liked the Morning Meeting activity with the students the most. It not only helps establish a trusting and friendly relationship between the teachers and students but it also improves students’ confidence in sharing ideas, asking questions, and discussing issues with each other.

According to Inayatullah, prior to the training, teachers mostly used the lecture method or reading from the book, which was not only hard for students to understand but they also lost attention of students very easily during class.

As i started using the many creative teaching methods i had learnt in the training, not only did my students start engaging and participating more in class activities but it also made the learning easier for students. They responded to new lessons much more and much better now.

Inayatullah now forms four to five groups of students in his classroom and assign tasks to each group to carry out during the day. By carrying their responsibilities, they are involved in classroom activities, feel a sense of ownership and are confident.

Inayatullah regularly develops teaching plans which he follows on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis now. This helps him set targets and utilizes various activities he has learnt in each of his lesson. He has also started using low-cost or free teaching materials to help students learn. The various activities and games he now uses have created a child-friendly and a nurturing environment in the classroom. This productive learning space is encouraging students to become more and more participative classroom activities, and shows the improving students’ interest in school and learning activities. Inayatullah further expressed,

The biggest change I have observed is the improved learning ability of the students and decreased number of absentees in my classroom. The students can easily read and write now and are learning better. The quality and accuracy of their homework has improved by more than 50% in just six months. This is a tremendous achievement for both the students and me.