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Photo credit: www.bbc.com

Food insecurity, scarcity of water, drought and malnutrition remains a continuous threat for the lives and livelihoods of the people of Tharparkar district. Precious human lives have been lost and livelihoods stolen. The impact of these adversities may further escalate if timely action is not taken to control the situation.

According to  the local health department, eleven more children have died in Thar’s hospitals, during the past four days due to an outbreak of waterborne diseases and malnutrition. Since January this year over 172 infants have died in the district.

Dozens of unwell children were brought to six health facilities of the Thar district on Wednesday. Their parents complained of a lack of facilities in the hospitals to timely treat their children and unavailability of healthcare units in their remote villages.

They alleged that most of the dispensaries and basic health units in their villages  remained closed. Despite repeated attempts, no health official representing these health facilities were available to share their version of the story.

Since Justice Saqib Nisar, Chief Justice of Pakistan, has taken suo moto notice of the increasing number of infant deaths reported at the Civil Hospital in Mithi this April, the district health officials have stopped sharing details of the deaths of infants with the media.

Health and nutrition experts and rights’ activists working in the desert area of Thar have raised a dire need of nutritional provision and safe drinking water in the region to prevent further deaths.

They stated that the situation in the rain-dependent region have assumed alarming proportions due to increasing temperatures and delayed monsoon rainfall.

Community World Service Asia Response: Community World Service is in contact with local partners in Tharparkar for information on the ground and will plan a response accordingly.

Contacts:

Dennis Joseph
Associate Director – Disaster Management Program
Email: dennis.joseph@communityworldservice.asia
Cell: +92 300 855 7414

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

Sources: www.dawn.com

Department of Social work, University of Peshawar organized a consultation with the Executive Director, The Sphere Project about use of Sphere Handbook globally and how academia around the globe is promoting Sphere Standards for ensuring quality response during humanitarian response.

Honorable Pro Vice Chancellor, University of Peshawar, Prof. Dr. Muhammad Abid welcomed the participants and guests. At the start of the consultation there was a brief shield distribution ceremony. Prof. Dr. Muhammad Abid presented shield to Mr. Furruk Marvin, Regional Representative of Community World Service Asia for the valuable partnership with University of Peshawar. He also presented a shield to the visiting guest, Ms. Christine Knudsen.

Community World Service Asia Paid its deepest regard for the outstanding partnership and support provided by university of Peshawar Mr. Furruk Marvin Pervez Presented shield of honor to the worthy Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr. Muhamamad Abid, Prof. Dr. Rashid Khan, Chairman Department of Social work and the focal person for the partnership Dr. Muhammad Ibrar for their valuable support in making this partnership a success.

Ms. Christine Knudsen shared the overviews of the sphere project and shares the purpose and progress on sphere handbook revision. She also shared how Sphere handbook is used by academia around the globe and the role academia is playing in promoting Sphere standards. Among the consultation participants were the Academician from Department of Social work University of Punjab, Department of Social Work , University of Peshawar, PRCS, Health Department, Government of Khyber Pukhtun Khwa, FDMA.

Source

Photo credit: http://www.aljazeera.com

Widespread flooding and devastating mudslides brought on by Cyclone Mora and monsoon rains across southwestern portion of Sri Lanka have affected 15 districts, killed at least 203 people and left more than 600,000 people temporarily homeless.

The death toll is expected to rise as authorities’ battle to rescue those still stranded and warn of the possibility of crocodile attacks. The UN warned that with an increasing number of displaced people and a lack of space in temporary shelters, many people were at risk of disease.

Sri Lanka has seen a significant increase in mosquito-borne dengue fever this year, with more than 125 deaths.

Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from Kalutara city, said residents were still without access to water and electricity and heavily reliant on voluntary services.

Foreign Minister, Ravi Karunanayake, met foreign envoys in Sri Lanka and appealed for assistance. He said 24 countries have already extended help.

The UN, India, Australia, Japan and Pakistan are among those that have donated supplies, including water purification tablets and tents. The United States and China also pledged relief. “In the capital, shops and supermarkets are running out of supplies as people are coming in and hoovering up items,” he said.

“While waters are receding in some areas, there are still some parts that are 10 to 12 feet under water.”

Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake said 16 countries had sent medicines and relief supplies to assist those driven from their homes.The Sri Lankan military is also doing all it can. Search-and-rescue operations are still ongoing. But residents are saying if it wasn’t for private organizations and people coming forward, the government and military would be finding it even harder to deal with this crisis

Mudslides have become common during Sri Lanka’s summer monsoon season as forests across the tropical nation have been cleared for export crops such as tea and rubber.

Community World Service Asia Response: Community World Service is in contact with the partners in Sri Lanka on getting the updated information on the latest situation. It is closely monitoring the crisis and will devise a response plan accordingly.

Contacts:

Karen Janjua
Senior Program Advisor
Regional Programs and Resource Mobilization
Email: karen.janjua@communityworldservice.asia
Ph: +92 51 230 7484

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

Sources:
www.aljazeera.com
www.cnn.com
www.cbc.ca

Photo credit: http://www.aljazeera.com

An estimated 3,700 people were still trapped in Marawi, a municipality of 201,785 people in Lanao del Sur Province in Mindanao, on Thursday as clashes between government forces and members of the Abu Sayyaf and Maute group continued in the Islamic city, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which is working to ensure their safe evacuation.

In Manila, ICRC Philippine delegation head Pascal Porchet told the Inquirer that the humanitarian aid group has been able to communicate with members and persons “close to” and “directly involved” with the Islamic State-linked fighters and the Philippine military, requesting safe passage for those still trapped in Marawi. “But the most important thing is, we are here to work hand in hand with the parties involved to ensure the safety and well-being of the people,” Porchet said. “We just hope the civilians will be able to flee safely, and will soon be rescued.”

As the violent clashes on 23rd May erupted, residents of Marawi soon evacuated in large groups to safe zones in surrounding areas, including Iligan City, Lanao del Norte, Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental. Strict checkpoints by both Maute groups and government forces, long traffic lines and lost documentation has slowed the evacuation.

The fighting has made it difficult to reach areas where civilians had sought refuge but the ICRC said it was able to rescue 500 civilians following dialogues with those involved in the fighting, which left large patches of the city in ruins. “We are extremely concerned about the impact of the hostilities on the civilians. Our priority is to address the humanitarian needs of the affected people,” the ICRC said in a report. “We are seriously concerned about reports of civilians who were killed or deliberately targeted, or being held against their will. Civilians are not part of the fighting; they should be protected.”

Only 30,645 individuals or 6,129 families have taken shelter in evacuation centers in nearby cities such as Iligan and Cagayan de Oro and as far away as Davao City. Majority of the displaced have sought refuge in homes of relatives.

The latest information from OCHA and ARRM-Heart on 30th May indicate that estimated 90% of the population of Marawi City has been affected. Marawi residents have left the city without necessities, such as extra clothes, livelihood assets or basic hygiene items. It appears that the Christian community (who represent less than 20% in Marawi) has been particularly targeted by the Maute group.  Around 20 Christian civilians were killed when they tried to escape Marawi city at a Maute check point.

Unicef Philippines has called on involved parties in the Marawi conflict to ensure the safety and protection of children affected by the ongoing fighting there. Unicef estimates around 50,000 children have been affected by the conflict by being displaced within Marawi or to other cities in Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte; unable to return to their homes; or are in dire need of basic health and sanitation facilities. “We are deeply concerned about actions that may put children’s life and safety at risk and disrupts their overall development or access to basic social services such as education and health care. The estimated tens of thousands of children who, along with their families, have been displaced in and out of Marawi, could face severe long-term impact on their psycho-social health, their physical health as well as having their education disrupted,” warned Unicef Philippines Representative Lotta Sylwander.

As violence continues in Marawi City, there is uncertainty around when the displaced people will be able to return home, placing a serious strain on the resources and facilities available in evacuation centres (ECs) and on the capacity of the local government to accommodate the large influx of IDPs, particularly if the conflict intensifies further or expands.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who declared martial law on Mindanao Island, has approved the creation of a “peace corridor” to hasten the rescue of civilians and delivery of humanitarian aid for displaced people, said presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella.

He said the corridor will be implemented by the government and the main separatist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which has signed a peace agreement in exchange for Muslim autonomy in Mindanao, the southern third of the Philippines.

Community World Service Asia Response: Community World Service is in contact with local partners in Philippines on updated information on the ongoing conflict. It is closely monitoring and will devise its response plan accordingly.

Contacts:

Emmeline Managbang
Deputy Director
Disaster Management Program
Email: mae.manags@communityworldservice.asia
Ph +93 78 635 0703 / +63 908 102 1016

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

Sources:
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/05/mindanao-churchgoers-hostage-marawi-siege-170524085829461.html
Start Network Alert – https://startnetwork.org
http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/901709/marawi-conflict-unicef-calls-for-efforts-to-keep-children-safe-protected
http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/901862/3700-still-trapped-in-marawi-city
http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/06/01/1705747/civilians-seek-food-water-marawi-clash-continues

 

On Day 4, participants were involved in at the refresher training.

Under the “Women economic empowerment through disaster resilience approach, Sindh Province Project, a four days refresher training on “Sexual Reproductive Health(SRH) and Gender Based Violence (GBV)” of a theatre group was conducted in mid-March of this year. The first training of its kind was conducted in the start of the year when project was initiated. The objective of the refresher training was to enhance the group’s performance skills, dramatisation techniques and develop a thorough understanding on the topics of SRH and GBV to better represent them on stage. Exercises to improve confidence levels and adaption of more audience interactive methods were also practiced in the training to increase audience attention and performance impact.  It also aimed at prioritizing and highlighting the topic related issues to further build awareness among rural communities to change rigid mindsets.

Yousuf Dominic, a specialist consultant at Community World Service Asia, facilitated and lead this refresher workshop. Yousuf has an extensive experience of 22 years as a consultant trainer on various capacity building programs including gender equality, social mobilization and sexual reproductive health.

Before the start of this four day workshop, Yousaf had scheduled one whole day visiting the project field sites to observe the existing social and cultural gaps and to take note of field level operational issues. Ways to address the points noted during the field visit were carefully incorporated in the session plans of the workshop.

The training commenced with a brainstorming session in participation with all the theatre performers. At this session, Yousuf shared his findings and gave his feedback on the observations brought back from field. “I was glad to see the hard work and dedication the performers put in their work. However, more work needs to be done on early childhood marriages, health issues and women protection policies through more informative dialogues.” Yousaf emphasized on the importance of conducting social mapping in order to develop a clear understanding on common issues existing in the communities.

Thus, a social mapping exercise was carried out where participants were divided into groups. Each group identified various issues in their respective communities and the reasons behind their being. Each group then developed solutions for the issues identified and shared their proposed strategies with the others. This effective group activity allowed the participants to jointly identify five key issues, which were common among all communities:



  • Women harassment

     

  • Early child Marriage

  • Women ignored in decision-making

  • Girls Education

  • Restrictions on women

Through this training, performers were enabled to write stories and performance scripts on the issues of sexual reproductive health and gender based violence through group exercises and thorough discussions. After evaluating the stories shared by the participants, Yousuf expressed the importance of authenticity in writing stories and representing real life examples. He further elaborated that performers may work on stories through social mapping and prioritize their issues and develop more needs based stories which would have more impact and relativity for audiences.  In addition, Yousaf clarified, “Stories must have a clear introduction to the audience on the basic parameters and a very tangible reason, so that a positive and effective message is conveyed to the crowd.”

A story/show script was fully developed in the four day training through social mapping exercises. The participants wrote their dialogues keeping in mind the sensitivity of the issues. A final theater show was performed on the last day of the refresher training. Participants developed a comprehensive understanding on characterization and role plays during theatre shows.  Their story and script skills were enhanced and specific capacity was built on plot construction and characterization. All participants were then awarded certificates for their contribution, commitment and participation.

The Diocese Development Secretariat of Multan (MDTA), an independent organization, developed their first ever strategic plan for the years 2017-2020 after attending a four-day capacity building training on Organization Development (OD) in September 2016. The training organized by Community World Service Asia aimed at enabling participating organizations to better respond and adapt to changes and developments in the sector to achieve organizational efficiency and increase productivity.

Kashif Kamran Khan, working as Head of Development and Emergency Programs since the last four years at MDTA, speaks to us about the changes and growth him and his organization experienced since learning OD concepts at the training. Kashif joined MDTA as it re-established itselfand adopted a newer and more “modern” approach to its programming. In these last four years, he has worked in various departments of the organization, from Finance, to HR, to M&E and on field project implementation. MDTA did not have a separate OD department, but as a head of development Kashif applied many OD concepts in various departments to enhance the efficiency of his team.

Without a proper OD unit, MDTA also did not have any HR, Fund raising or any other program policies developed. This led to them facing many challenges, specially when building partnerships and networking externally with partners and donors. Due to the absence of a structured OD system, there was no organogram developed either which meant there was no hierarchy to follow, leading to countless confusions for staff and other stakeholders on a daily basis.

Kashif felt that the organization development unit plays one of the most important roles in an organization. Having acquired a MPhil degree in Business Administration with a specialization in HR, Kashif had been waiting and looking for an opportunity to be trained on OD as he felt it was vital for him to do so in order to fulfill his responsibilities as Head of Development for a newly “reestablished” organization. This training was a perfect opportunity for him.

“I really looked forward to this training and for all the right reasons,” recounted Kashif. “All the knowledge and learning received in this training was very educational for me. I learnt concepts, policies and methodologies which I never got to learnt in my MPhil classes either. The facilitator for the training did a great job.”

“I learnt about different Hierarchy models which I have now applied to develop an OD model for MDTA,” acknowledged Kashif. “The facilitator’s teaching style was very interactive and participatory. He taught us theories that we did not even know existed before.”

“Taking my learnings from the training and putting them into practice, we at MDTA have recently developed our Strategic plan, introduced new program policies and have applied many new concepts into our programming and management. Now most of our employees are familiar from the OD concepts.”

According to the American Camp Association (ACA), youth development experts agree that children need a variety of experiences in their lives to help them grow into healthy adolescents and adults. Summer camps for children, under our Girls Education project supported by Act for Peace, are exclusively planned to facilitate developmental needs of school-going children through physical exercises, activities on self-definition, meaningful participation and creative self-expression.

“The mock elections at the summer camp were a great learning opportunity for all of us. I had to work really hard to win the elections. I prepared a strong, impactful speech which promised to develop an advanced and clean society. I felt very proud on winning the elections as it is the most important achievement for me up until now,”

said Kainat, a Grade 3 student at the Government Primary Sindhi Chandio School.

Kainat belongs to a village in Sujawal District and lives there with her parents and eight siblings. Attending the summer camp and interacting with other students from different schools was just the kind of opportunity Kainat had always waited for and looked forward to.

“My father has always encouraged me to go for my dreams and doesn’t want any of his children to clean cars like he does for an earning. He wants us to study and grow up to be intellectual professionals. I come to school to learn new things from my teachers and want to grow up to be a commando one day,”

voiced Kainat excitedly

“I did not know that as a citizen of Pakistan, I had certain duties to fulfill to be a good citizen. We got to know the difference between a good and a bad citizen at the camp. I specifically shared this learning with my class fellows. I also went to other classes of my school and told them about good citizenship. We have to make our country a better place and for that we have to play our role actively.”

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) trainings were also conducted as part of the summer campts at Kainat’s school. According to her teachers, Kainat has been a proactive student in conducting drill activities.

“The DRR trainings have increased our knowledge in relation to emergency situations. Our school has trained all students to take measures for various disasters which come unannounced. I have shared my learnings with my family and friends in my community. My community appreciates my knowledge and commends the school on giving such diverse opportunities aiming to equip intellectual students  with all lots of skills.”

 “People from my village are mostly uneducated. I am educating myself so that I can set an example for others, highlighting the importance of education for a progressive society. My eldest sister supports me a lot in education. She helps me in my homework and studies as well.”

Kainat is determined to bring a positive change in the unbending and recessive community that she belongs to. She aims to  free the  future generations of her village from poverty and illiteracy.

 

“My father drank alcohol daily and used to beat my mother,” quietly recounted a 15 years old daughter of Mohan from Haji Chanesar Mari village.

Mohan, father to five sons and two daughter, was a hopeless alcoholic, living with his family in the small but close-knit village of Haji Chanesar Mari in Umerkot. He was a selfish man who only thought of himself and never considered the impacts of his drunkenness on his wife and children. Many evenings, Mohan’s children witnessed their mother, Devi, being beaten by their drunk father. Some evenings, one of the children would become victims of his physical and verbal abuse as well.

As a small, independent farmer, Mohan earned well. Despite his sufficient earnings, Devi, was unable to save any money for the dowry of their daughters or for the purchase of cattle for the family’s nutritional support. All of Mohan’s extra earnings were consumed on alcohol. “He was consuming alcohol of at least PKR 200 regularly,” shared Devi. “At times, when he would be out of money, he would lend money from others to fulfill his alcohol craving.”

“Despite having such a beautiful family, I have mostly thought of myself only throughout my adult life,” shared Mohan himself one day. “I never dream about a better life, education, health or of other facilities for my children.”

Sajan, a gender activist in their village, took a lead to work with families affected by severe alcoholism. He had selected at least five households with whom to start work with. People advised him to consider working on other social issues, realizing the challenges he may face working with alcohol addicts. However, Sajan remained firm in his disposition as he considered alcoholism as one of the root causes of many gender based discriminatory practices and mind sets in their community. “Local alcohol is produced and is easily available from nearby villages,” Sajan pointed the severity of this issue.

Sajan and his colleague decided to train local children to play the role of drug addicts and their family members and demonstrate how one alcoholic would easily ruin a whole family. This drama was performed in Mohan’s house in his very presence. Mohan’s own son performed the role of an alcoholic who drank daily and beat his wife. At the end of the interactive play, a communal issue (alcoholism) was laid in front of the acting village leader in the play to find a resolution, seeking support from other men of the community as well. The alcoholic, played by Mohan’s son, was not even considered in the village decision making as the community saw him as a senseless man who was incapable of supporting himself or his family. “It was a very shameful moment for me that the character played by my son was hated by everyone and was failing everywhere in the community,” Mohan said disappointedly, “I realized that that could become the future of my children if I continue to drink this way.”

The story and performances touched Mohan’s slumbering soul and made him realize the impact of his disgraceful attitude on his family. He promised to quit drinking alcohol. Mohan kept his promise and quit soon after he saw the theater performance. Relinquishing a severe addiction as such as suddenly left Mohan unwell and ill. At this time, Sajan supported Mohan in acquiring medical support in Umerkot city where the doctor strictly advised him not to consume alcohol at all during this time. If he followed his advice, Mohan’s health would be better soon.

It has been month and half since Mohan has consumed a single drop of alcohol. Mohan and his family are very grateful to Sajan for not only helping Mohan leave his addiction but also in re-strengthening the family’s long lost bond. “I have stopped hanging out with friends who drank with me. I wish to become a proud father for my children and a responsible husband to my wife.”

Small efforts can sometimes bring a big change. We should never gauge or underestimate any effort that is made with complete sincerity and dedication; the results may not be seen at once but gradually it may change lives positively.

A group photo of Community World Service Asia Jhuddo staff with the delegation of Sindh Agricultural University.

A group of 37 students of the Rural Sociology Department, Sindh Univeristy, accompanied by senior professors and chairman of the Rural Sociology Department (RSD), visited Community World Service Asia’s Jhuddo Office this April. The purpose of the study tour was to orient students on the working methodologies and policies of humanitarian organizations and NGOs’ and the role and structure of Community Based Organizations (CBO). Something different from the usual theoretical classroom learnings at the RSD, this exposure tour was designed to familiarize students with the different cultures and living patterns of rural communities and provide them with a practical learning experience.

Ashar Nasir, Project Manager at Community World Service Asia, along with other staff, welcomed the group of students and faculty members at the local office. An introductory session, on the organization and its various projects and thematic areas, kick-started the exposure visit for the eager guests.

The group first visited Fazal Wadho village; one of the targeted villages of Community World Service Asia’s Promoting Sustainable Agriculture project in Badin. Participants were welcomed by members of the Community Based Organization (CBO). Mohammad Hassan, community representative of Fazal Wadho village, gave a detailed presentation on the village profile and its’ previous and existing initiatives with different organizations. He also briefed the participants on the history of the CBO’s  formation, its objectives  and their role in local development. This was followed by a question and answer sessions in which a student asked about the importance of CBOs at a community level. To his response, it was shared that CBOs bridge communication and networking gaps between feudal lords and higher officials and the local community people. The CBOs also amplify the voices of the  village people on local issues and together with concerned departments develop resolutions to those issues.

Community World Service Asia’s role, through their various Food Security and Livelihoods projects in the area, in forming the CBOs and VOs and equipping them with necessary resources and knowledge, was highlighted. The students and their faculty were told about the role the women of the community are playing in being trained on Nutrition and Kitchen Gardening to develop balanced nutritious diets for their families and themselves through the Sustainable Farming project in Badin. Many other field experiences were shared with the group, including the exposure visit to Sindh Agricultural University where the women project participants actively observed the workings of different departments. They also shared their experience of participating in the Farmers Festival which displayed their home grown vegetables on sale stalls and connected them with local retailers.

Dr. Ghulam Mujtaba Khushk, chairman of RSD, appreciated the efforts of the CBO in local development. He appreciated the informative and effective opportunity given to the students and the faculty members; increasing their knowledge and learning in relation to the different practicalities of rural life and how people of various local communities are being involved to build a sustainable livelihood together. The students and faculty members learnt about project implementation, project planning and social mobilization. Concluding the visit, Dr. Ghulam Mujtaba presented an appreciation letter and a shield to Community World Service Asia Team for their commitment and contribution to the communities.

Improving the capacities of education officials on monitoring and evaluation (M&E) skills contributes directly to the quality and accountability in reporting on education. It also impacts the expectations of schools and teachers that are held accountable for sub-professional behaviors, such as absenteeism.  Improved M&E systems would also support better reporting and would lead to improvement in information available to relevant decision-makers. To refine the existing system, a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Training was conducted in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan end of March this year for Provincial and District level education directorates. A total of 20 participants (men) attended the informative training at the Community World Service Asia office in Jalalabad.

Education officials in Afghanistan undertook joint monitoring visits to schools that are part of Community World Service Asia’s Girls Education Project to observe teacher trainings, classroom instructions and school-based civil education camps. In addition, they received coaching on appropriately utilizing M&E tools and on developing a comparative study of M&E systems run by other professionals in different fields.

The participants were trained on the difference between Monitoring and Evaluation processes and how to conduct an effective monitoring visit to thoroughly observe the teaching process of school teachers and the management system of school principals. During the training, the participants were engaged in various group activities where they developed monitoring and supervision plans and ways of using existing forms and formats of the Education Directorate for monitoring purposes, providing feedback and recommendations. Sessions on conflict resolution further modified the participants’ role in conflict management, if any existed in the schools.

Schools and teaching environments will benefit greatly through the commitment of effective M&E staff provided they are well equipped with knowledge and necessary skills in the said field. The monitors efficiently conduct visits and provide teachers and school management with good and constructive feedbacks and recommendations in order to improve. Furthermore, the regular visits of M & E officers will ensure systematic school management processes. The teachers’ teaching methods are observed to assure that new methods learnt from trainings are implemented rationally; existing gaps are identified and further improved accordingly. These trainings are vital as it enhances monitoring systems in the Ministry of Education and fulfils the aim of ensuring quality education within the targeted schools.