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Across Afghanistan, communities continue to recover from three decades of conflict. Education, particularly for girls, has been severely damaged and disrupted, with a lack of safe schools, difficulty in travelling and a shortage of qualified teachers. Poverty and cultural norms further contribute to the serious obstacles to education for both girls and boys, and the reconstruction of the country.

Community World Service Asia is committed to working with local authorities in Afghanistan and enabling them to provide quality education for students. We promote awareness and understanding among communities about the importance of education, especially for girls, with an emphasis on a culturally sensitive approach. We provide extra-curricular educational activities for girls, such as civic education camps, in order to address the gaps in their education system and empower them to play an active role in their communities. The construction of safe play areas and the provision of sports equipment uphold the right of children to play, and are a vital part of our efforts to build the confidence of children.

In addition, we provide extensive and in-depth training to teachers, supporting them to create engaging, child-centered classrooms and conduct meaningful lessons which will equip their students to learn effectively. As part of this initiative, we have been holding subject-specific trainings for teachers from eight schools in Laghman and Nangarhar provinces on a variety of courses identified as priorities by the vast majority of surveyed teachers, including Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and General Sciences. The workshops develop the knowledge of participants on these subjects as well as exploring learning strategies and teaching techniques.

A five-day training was held in June for twenty five teachers in the Behsood district of Nangarhar, on the subject of Chemistry. The workshop resulted in a 446% increase in the technical knowledge of teachers, as measured by pre- and post- test scores on the subject matter.

Ab. Malik, a teacher at Malika Suraya Girls High School, shared the impact that the training had on her abilities and confidence to teach Chemistry, “Most of these things were really new to me and had no idea how to do experiments. But after attending this training, I feel that I have become an expert and trained teacher who can provide the students with effective chemistry classes.”

Zalmay Halimi Hazrat, the District Education Director for the Behsood District, visited the workshop, and was extremely positive about its value and relevance for teachers in his area. He expressed his views saying, “If other organizations conduct similar trainings for our teachers that are just as effective, we would very soon be able to observe the positive change and improved quality of education within our school that we hope to see. This is the first time I am seeing the entire wall of our training hall completely full of charts. This indicates that throughout the training days you all have worked hard and have had lots of practical activities.”

A wide gender gap exists across Pakistan, with women able to access fewer opportunities for participation in education, employment and social and political life. Nationally, only 45% of women are literate, compared to 69% of men[1]. There is also a strong disparity between urban and rural areas, 71.1% of those who live in cities or towns able to read and write, and only 46.3% of those who live in more remote settings[2].

Women in rural areas are therefore particularly marginalized, and are affected by a variety of factors which limit their access to education. There are few schools, a lack of female teachers, insufficient sanitation facilities at schools, and often long and unsecure journeys between home and the classroom. This further compounds the general issues of insufficient resources, untrained and unqualified teachers, out-of-date textbooks and poverty, which present obstacles to girls and boys alike.

Community World Service Asia is committed to empowering rural women through education and income generation. Through our women’s empowerment project in Thatta, Sindh, funded by Christian Aid, women receive training to develop their skills in traditional embroidery, appliqué and other crafts. The project also supports these women to develop sustainable linkages to local and high-end markets, and education on sexual and reproductive health. A key component of the intervention is the introduction of adult literacy classes, through which participating women receive education in basic reading, writing and mathematical skills.

The second adult literacy center was opened in Ghulam Muhammad Soorjo village, Thatta, on 1st July, with fifty women enrolled. The new students eagerly shared their motivation for undertaking the classes, with reasons including being able to read the expiration dates on medicines, verifying their national identity cards, and registering to vote.

[1] Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement survey (PSLM) 2008-09-Most recent government figures available.

[2] UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2011

 

Community World Service Asia, with the financial support of Christian Aid, has been working with flood-prone and affected communities in Thatta, Sindh since 2010. Along with utilizing our innovative Mobile Knowledge Resource Center to conduct interactive training workshops to support community members, teachers and students to become disaster resilient, we promote community ownership of disaster risk reduction initiatives through the formation of local level disaster management committees. These committees are essential to the active participation of communities in preparedness and mobilization in the event of a disaster, as well as building sustainability of the intervention. The committees carry out assessments of local risks and capacity to respond, as well as producing hazard maps and conducting evacuation drills.

On June 15th, members of the disaster management committee in Union Council Bijora, Thatta participated in an exposure visit to a neighboring village, Ali Muhammat Jat, to share their experiences of working to build community resilience to natural disasters.   The visit was an opportunity for both communities to identify good practices and areas in which they can learn from one another. The participants shared the importance of engaging and coordinating with community members in order to successfully identify needs and priorities, and effectively sensitize communities to important practices such as education and disaster preparedness. The committee in Ali Muhammad Jat, supported by Islamic Relief Pakistan, also shared their initiative of monitoring local news alerts to develop their own early warning system, which the committee members from UC Bijora found particularly interesting and useful.

Exposure visits like these enable the communities with whom we work to develop links with other groups, learn from them, and adapt relevant initiatives to strengthen their own practices. This also helps the committees which we establish in becoming self-sustaining and durable in the long-term.

Floods triggered by heavy monsoon rains continued to cause devastation in areas along the Chenab and other small rivers and tributaries placing lives and valuable assets of the people at risk. Due to these rains and flood related incidents, 11 people lost their lives in Rawalpindi so far.

In Jhang, due to the damaged protection bund, flood water has inundated several villages destroying the agriculture land and crops.

The already affected areas include Jhang, Layyay and Qadirabad. Due to the increase in the water level in the rivers, Khanewal, Muzaffargarh, Multan and Wazirabad are at high risk of flooding as well.

Emergency warnings have been released through loud speakers and the communities at higher risk have been advised to evacuate the area. The water level is continuously increasing in rivers and dams in different areas of the country including Punjab and the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. The Pakistan Metrological Department has predicted more rains in most parts of KPK and Punjab in the coming weeks.

Community World Service Asia is currently monitoring the situation. Its emergency response teams are prepared and will start emergency response activities if required as per their Monsoon Contingency Plan.

Contacts:
Allan A. Calma
Deputy Director
Disaster Management Program
Email: allan.calma@communityworldservice.asia
Cell: +92 301 5801621

Muhammad Fazal
Associate Director
Emergencies/DRR/Climate Change
Email: fazil.sardar@communityworldservice.asia
Cell: +92 332 5586134

Palwashay Arbab
Senior Communications Officer
Palwashay.arbab@communityworldservice.asia
Cell: +92 42 3586 5338

Sources:
www.dawn.com
www.express.com.pk

Picture: http://92newshd.tv

Flash floods caused by heavy monsoon rains killed at least 11 people including two children in different areas of Rawalpindi on Tuesday, July 7.

The flash floods swept away five people, of whom four drowned. There were reports of more casualties due to structural collapse and electrocution but the exact figure of these have not yet been confirmed.

The water surged into the houses and its level reached up to two feet in the surrounding areas. Terrified residents were seen sitting on rooftops as floodwaters gushed through the streets in localities of Rawalpindi.

A red alert has been issued for the Lai Nullah and the people living on the river banks have been advised to evacuate the areas.

A flood warning has also been issued for the Chinab River till 9th of July.

Further spells of monsoon rains are predicted to hit the affected regions again. Monsoon rains cause widespread casualties and damage to property every year in Pakistan.

Community World Service Asia is currently monitoring the situation. Its emergency response teams are prepared and will start emergency response activities if required.

To view the contingency plan for this emergency response, click here to download Monsoon Contingency Plan

Contacts:
Allan A. Calma
Deputy Director
Disaster Management Program
Email: allan.calma@communityworldservice.asia
Cell: +92 301 5801621

Muhammad Fazal
Associate Director
Emergencies/DRR/Climate Change
Email: fazil.sardar@communityworldservice.asia
Cell: +92 332 5586134

Palwashay Arbab
Senior Communications Officer
Email: palwashay.arbab@communityworldservice.asia
Ph: +92 42 3586 5338

Sources:
www.dawn.com
www.express.com.pk

During armed conflict, protection and assistance shall be given to those not engaged in the conflict; in particular, the civilian population shall be granted general immunity from attack and reprisals.
The safety and security of people in situations of disaster or conflict is of particular humanitarian concern, including the protection of refugees and internally displaced persons.
We humanitarian agencies acknowledge that our fundamental accountability must be to those we seek to assist.
All people affected by disaster or conflict — women and men, boys and girls — have the right to life with dignity.
All people affected by disaster or conflict — women and men, boys and girls — have the right to receive humanitarian assistance.
We humanitarian agencies are aware that attempts to provide humanitarian assistance may sometimes have unintended adverse effects. In collaboration with affected communities and authorities, we aim to minimise them.

Learn more about this campaign at: www.SphereProject.org/HumanitarianCharter
For further details/ordering the posters please contact: shaprograms@communityworldservice.asia

The death toll of the heatwave affected individuals has risen to 1400 with more than 40,000 people suffering from heat exhaustion and strokes according to UNOCHA’s latest report. To respond to this growing crisis Community World Service Asia initiated an emergency heatwave response. In collaboration with its partners, Participatory Village Development Program (PVDP), Transformation and Reflection for Rural Development (TRD) and Society for Safe Environment and Welfare of Agrarians in Pakistan (SSEWA Pak) the response has completed its first week.

Heatwave rehabilitation centers in three different districts; Dadu, Mirpurkhas and Tharparkar of Sindh have been established and are running successfully. A number of consultation meetings were conducted with the government health departments in order to set up these relief centers.

Free medical consultations and medicines have been provided to 215 patients from the affected population under this response so far. Of the treated patients, 104 are men, 61 are women and 50 are children. Awareness raising activities on heatstroke orientation, its symptoms, treatment and prevention are also being conducted for the public sector paramedic staff and the visiting patients. The community members have been actively participating in these awareness sessions and the attendance is seen to have increased by the day.

As per the project plan, awareness sessions on building resiliency towards extreme weather are to be extended to village levels. Mobile health teams will conduct these sessions with the communities in other villages as well. Awareness about heatstroke prevention and extreme weather precautions will also be disseminated through text messages and interactive theaters.

Some of the affected areas in Sindh received its first surge of rain after a long drought last week but the showers were minimal. Thus, the drought and extreme heat spell is expected to continue in this part of the country. Medical specialists have started warning government departments about the possible spread of gastroenteritis amongst the affected communities in the coming days.