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My husband works as a laborer in a construction company in Iran. He earns a daily wage of AFN 500 (Approx. 7 USD). I live alone with my two sons and one daughter in Afghanistan,

shared Asma sadly. The mother of two sons and a daughter, Asma lives with her children in Mashinna village, located in Qurghaie district of the Laghman province in Afghanistan. Her husband sends her money on a monthly basis but his low income is insufficient to bear all the household expenses. Asma has hardly been able to save money for health care emergencies of her own or her children and with no health facility nearby, travelling to distant hospitals has been out of the question.

When Asma was pregnant with her third child, her husband could not stay till her delivery and had to fly back to Iran for work. Being alone and economically bound, Asma would have had no one to assist her during the delivery of her third baby. Fortunately, a lady Community Health Worker (CHW) came to her when she was in her third trimester and informed her about the maternal and neonatal health assistance provided in the Nowdamorra Sub-Health Center (SHC) which is located near to their village.  The health worker thoroughly examined her and prescribed her multivitamins and micronutrient pills. Asma was told about the safe delivery services and antenatal and postnatal care provided at the health facility and was then registered as a patient in the sub-health centre. She was advised to visit the health center regularly for antenatal care.

As a patient registered with the SHC, Asma received regular and quality antenatal Care throughout her last trimester. She came to the SHC for regular checkups and was prescribed micronutrient medication. A midwife at the SHC conducted health and hygienic sessions for Asma and other expecting mothers from the village and shared a suggested diet chart with them, advising them to eat food that was healthy and nutritious for them and their babies. Thus, Asma was well-informed on the prevention of risk factors during pregnancy and delivery.

In July 2017, Asma delivered a healthy baby girl with the assistance of a skilled midwife and nurse at the Nowdamorra health centre. Asma regularly visits the SHC for postnatal care where she receives family planning and breastfeeding sessions. In addition, she was also given a diet chart to follow for a period of six months postpartum.

The staff at the health facility is very cooperative and facilitated me timely resulting in the safe delivery of my beautiful daughter.

*The Nowdamorra Sub-health centre is among six sub health centres established in four districts of Laghman province in Afghanistan by Community World Service Asia and financially supported by PWS & D.

Training Sessions for Female on CMST is underway

The provision of medical facilities to rural areas has been a major developmental objective of Pakistan.  The government has undertaken several programs to train and deploy women doctors, lady health visitors, and dispensers in their health facilities in the rural areas of the country. However, district Umerkot in Sindh, similar to many other rural districts in Pakistan, is faced with a severe shortage of human resources in the medical sector. Community World Service Asia is addressing this limitation through implementing effective and affordable interventions so that progress towards SDG Goal 3, on achieving health and well being, is successfully met.

In its third year of implementing a Health Project in Umerkot, with the financial support of Act for Peace (AFP) and PWS&D, this project was initiated after consultation and coordination with the all district health authorities and local communities in Umerkot. Rural Health Centres (RHCs) in three villages of Umerkot have been set up to respond to a broad range of health issues including general hygiene, communicable disease prevention, awareness on safe motherhood and safe deliveries, vaccination for women and children, breastfeeding, family planning and access to safe drinking water.

Six Health Committees, comprising of men and women of the communities have been formed in the villages of Nabisar Road, Hyderfarm and Dhoronaro in Umerkot. These are the villages where each RHC is established. Each of these health committees consists of ten members from each village. An advocacy forum, made of ten health activists, has also been set up at the district level to address emerging health issues and to facilitate the successful functionality of the health centres. These activists represent government line departments, civil society organizations and the local community from the catchment areas of where the health facilities are established. Acknowledging the significance of community engagement, the advocacy forum and its work is seen as a back bone for the success of the project and key to providing sustainability to the health centres.

The training titled, Community Management Skill Trainings (CMST), was designed for members of the village health committees to strengthen their capacities on health issues and clearly define their roles and responsibilities. Health committee members were expected to clearly identify health related problems of their village and establish linkages with line department and prioritize health concerns on their own after taking the training.

Altogether, a series of six, two day trainings on CMST with all the village health committee members. In each of the three locations, separate two day training sessions for men and women were conducted. In addition, a one-day orientation session on Leadership Management Skills Training (LMST) was also conducted for the representatives of each line department, civil society organizations and the local community.  A total of ten participants attended this training.

With enhancing the awareness, skills and capabilities of the participants, the training aimed for the Health committees to better plan and manage their relevant activities and effectively utilize the local resources available to them. It also provided the participants an opportunity to strengthen their abilities to work towards breaking the vicious cycle of poverty and overcome communal health concerns, specifically that of women and children.

The purpose of empowering the health advocacy forums is to facilitate positive change and to see development of new policies that will tackle unmet and emerging health needs at district level.

In total six, two days CMST training sessions were conducted with the village committee members. In each of the three locations, two days training session for men and two days training session for women were conducted. 30 males, 10 each from the three locations and 30 women, 10 each from the three locations participated in the training. Apart from that, a one-day orientation session on Leadership Management Skills Training (LMST) was conducted for the representative of line department, civil society and communities. In total 10 participants attended this training which included one woman and nine male members.

 

The aim of all professionally trained project managers is to deliver high quality deliverables at every stage of the project, with effectively utilizing their team and without compromising costs and deadlines. Professionals must be trained to be effective leaders and managers by developing key qualities and applying smart strategies that uphold the integrity of the organization. Recognizing this requisite, Shewaram Suthar felt that his organization and department needed to enhance their capacities on specific skills to ensure that their organizational goals and objectives are met timely, effectively and efficiently.

Shewaram is working as Manager Programs with the Association for Water, Applied Education & Renewable Energy (AWARE) and firmly believes that training and skills development provides both, the organization and the individual employee, with expertise and benefits making it a worthwhile investment.

I have been with Aware since 2014. We have four offices operating in Sindh. Our head office is in Umerkot with district offices in Badin, Tando Mohammad Khan and Tharparker.

Though I completed my masters in Zoology, I was always attracted towards the social sector. The work done for the development of the country and building better lives for the people of the country inspired me to join the development sector. I wanted to play my part in making the world or Pakistan a better place to live. We are not a very big country but playing our part to make living easier for even a few is an essential motive to achieve.

Shewaram is heading a group of teams implementing eight projects in four districts of Sindh.

Many challenges are faced internally and externally. One of the main problems in the organization was the lack of technical knowledge in reporting, project planning, financing and monitoring. With time changing so rapidly, new methodologies and tools are being introduced to improve the functions of various departments. However due to lack of resources, it is difficult to stay updated. This affects the quality of work we do on a daily basis. In addition, we particularly lacked in proposal writing skills. My team and myself, failed to develop winning and all inclusive project proposals.

Through November 2016 to March 2017, Shewaram attended trainings on Project Design and Project Planning conducted by Community World Service Asia. The trainings aimed to provide a systematic approach to managing and maintaining different types of projects, organizational changes and development. Shewaram also nominated his team members to participate in other topic and subject specific trainings conducted by Community World Service to enhance the organization’s overall staff capacity.

Given a platform by Community World Service Asia, I thought of utilizing its benefits to the fullest. I sent relevant staff members to the trainings which were conducted under the Capacity Institutionalization Program. This capacity building opportunity offered to us provided all the necessary guidelines for seasoned and skilled professionals to effectively master project management,

quoted Shewaram. Prior to the participating in the trainings, the departments of Human Resource Management, Finance, Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) and Programs lacked in quality management and technical knowledge shared Shewaram.

Coming back from the project planning training, I initiated work on revising all policies and manuals. All the documents for our Human Resource, Finance and M&E departments were updated. The Gender Policy, Child Protection Policy, Communications Strategy, Accountability Framework and other existing documentations were renewed. Each department assigned a focal person who was looking into implementation and enforcement procedures of the revised documents. That focal point would be contacted in relation to any query addressed by internal staff or external stakeholders, donors or partners.  The Logical Framework Analysis (LFA) of M&E was formed after two of our staff participated in the M&E Training conducted in March 2016 in Islamabad.

Shewaram further added that the M&E methodologies incorporated in the M&E LFA has helped to derive quality outcomes from the projects. The Complain Mechanism (CM) Policy was revised, providing a contact number to all staff members and assigning the number to the focal person appointed to handle complains according to the CM Policy.

Every focal person has a Terms of References (TOR) document according to which they deliver their duties. They are trained to research for new tools or methodologies for timely revision of all policies and manuals existing in all departments.

Shewaram also recognized that it is essential to have consistent collaboration among projects with multidisciplinary teams.

We established the Resource Mobilization Unit (RMU) lead by the CEO of Aware. The unit consists of seven members including the CEO, Manager Programs, three Project Managers, one M&E staff and a Finance Manager. The main function of the unit is to secure new and additional resources for the organization. It also involves making better use of, and maximizing, existing resources. This unit has filled the gap which existed between the employers and the management team. The RMU has become a useful tool through which we communicate effectively and share necessary updates about the status of the project and departments. The progress and challenges faced internally and externally on field by all departments are discussed and inputs are shared in the meetings we conduct on a monthly basis.

The training I attended on project proposal writing was very beneficial. I use to write basic proposals due to lack of knowledge in technicalities. The training helped built a better understanding in format writing, word limit, line spacing and various components attached to make a good proposal. We often overlooked these minor details which resulted in improving the quality of our proposals immensely.

Shewaram and his RMU have developed five project proposals since the proposal writing training out of which two have been accepted.

We developed the proposals as a team. I would draft the project proposal which was reviewed by the RMU individually or in a joint meeting.

The HR officer of Aware took part in the Human Resource Training held in July 2016 in Islamabad.

The training highlighted various HR tools which can be effective for the organization. Web Human Resource (WebHR) was one of the tools shared in the training, which is a cloud based HR application. After revising the HR manual, we brought WebHR through which we have been working efficiently. We are currently in contact with the purchasing company for more information on its working. WebHR has made it easy for the HR Department to start managing HR processes and maintain databases effectively. It acts as a bridge between human resource management and information technology. WebHR has converted human resources information into a digital format, allowing that information to be added to the knowledge management systems of the organization.

 In addition, three of Aware’s Finance staff participated in the Financial Management Training conducted in May 9-13, 2017 in MirpurKhas to which Shewaram opined,

The quality of financial and budget monitoring reports have improved significantly due to the technical knowledge learnt in the training.

According to Shewaram, Aware is working in a more organized manner.

The teams’ capacity has enhanced allowing the deliverance of quality work. With polices and manuals revised, the working of all departments is running smooth and orderly. Some documents are in process of being revised. Moreover, the staff sent to the trainings, shared their learning with their concerned departments This exercise allowed enhancing the knowledge of all departments in their field of work. I am pleased to say that we have progressed immensely in a year and half,

reported Shewaram proudly.

The series of skill-building opportunities not only reinforced the need to encourage unity and a sense of purpose where teams are working towards a common goal, it also allowed to assess areas where we can improve to be effective leaders with a result-oriented, yet humane, focus,

concluded Shewaram.

The communities in the Indus river delta encounter disastrous floods and other climatic hazards very frequently. The most devastating effects of these disasters reflect on the agrarian livelihoods of these communities. To combat these adverse impacts and to lead normal lives, communities must resort to alternative sources of income. In this fight for survival, women must equally participate in livelihood generation and disaster risk reduction activities.

Women of Rahim Dino Thaheem village  in District Sujawal in Sindh, Pakistan are aware of these challenges and are responding in an exemplary way. Community World Service Asia (CWSA) is working closely with these women and their supportive communities, among many other in rural Sindh, to facilitate them in achieving economic empowerment.

This film tells the story of Bakhtawar, a young theater activist, who is spreading awareness about reproductive health and rights as well as against the generations long custom of child marriage. She has also managed to convince her parents about the importance of education and wants to continue her studies. She is an active participant in disaster risk reduction activities.

Shahnaz, a mother of nine, belongs to the same village and, despite hurdles from her family, has been able to earn a decent earning by joining the vocational center established by Community World Service Asia. Other than enhancing her skills, the center has also made her part of the Women Enterprise Groups, developed by CWSA, and connected her with sales agents that help her, and many other similar artisans, receive orders from renown fashion designers and urban fashion labels in metropolitan hubs of Pakistan. This practice has helped reduce the exploitation rural craftswomen face at the hands of middle-men as well as empowering them with a sustainable livelihood.

Through a comprehensive community empowerment project, Community World Service Asia is instilling messages of self-reliance as key to the resolution of both economic and social problems. Whether it is economic empowerment or disaster risk reduction, women are equal to men in resolving the issues confronting families and communities, leading them to pave paths to a resilient future.

Various material developed by the participants in the training displayed in the training venue.

A four-day teachers training on pedagogical skills was conducted under the Girls Education Project supported by Community World Service Asia and Act for Peace in Sindh province, Pakistan. The training was held for primary government schools’ teachers in the Thatta district in the late weeks of December and was attended by twenty teachers (women) from fourteen schools. The workshop aimed at teaching classroom management skills to teachers to enable them to create child-friendly and conducive learning environments.

Focusing on child psychology, child rights and child protection, the training included various sessions on classroom management, language, mathematics, introducing the morning meeting, developing low cost and no cost teaching materials, and awareness on gender, health and hygiene. These interactive and working sessions helped the teachers to convert their traditional classroom into child-centered ones, where students are at the centre of the learning process.

The sessions on child psychology, rights and protection emphasized on treating all students with equal respect and love irrespective of their gender, age, religion and other ethnic stereotypes. The teachers learnt how to deal with student issues via understanding their needs through basic psychological analysis. Teachers also learnt to develop low cost teaching aids from recycled materials to make classes fun, easy and memorable for their students. Health and hygiene sessions, especially on adolescent health care, aimed to build capacities of teachers on guiding their students towards instilling good hygiene habits and environmental preservation practices from an early age.

Teachers’ Corner

“Teachers are role models for their students. This training has enhanced our skills and behavior towards students, making us better role models for our students. A child-centered classroom develops a friendly relationship between teachers and students.  The job chart was one of the most interesting initiatives learnt in the teachers’ training. This activity will enable students to become more responsible in classroom and encourage them to make a better and interactive school environment.Fehmida Khushkh, Primary School Teacher,GGPS Mohammad Hussain Khushk Makli, Thatta

“There are more slow learners in my classroom than fast learners. Lack of confidence is the main reason for this. Learning through the practical activities we learnt in the training will increase students’ learning capability and boost their confidence. Moreover, the sessions of the training were not only for the benefit of the students, but as teachers, parents and human being, this was a very informative experience. The health & hygiene session will not improve the healthy practices of the students, in addition, it will built awareness of cleanliness in ours and students’ homes. This will bring in a healthy change on community level.”Hafiza Solangi, Primary School Teacher (Teaching Classes 4 & 5), GGPS Uza Mohammad Jokiyo, Thatta

“I was hesitant to speak up in front of people. The training boosted my confidence and enhanced my capability to express openly and without any fear. Likewise, through group work and practical activities I learnt in the training, I will encourage the quiet and shy students to come forward so that they can overcome their fears of facing the audience and increase their confidence level. ”Halima Shahid, Primary School Teacher (Teaching Class 2) ,GGPS Yusuf Elayo Keenjar Jheel, Thatta

“The training taught us to take the students forward with us and not just teaching them and promoting them to higher classes. It is our duty as teachers to motivate and encourage each student to become confident and sharp for the betterment of their future. During a session, Mrs. Nazakat, facilitator of the training, started to scold us suddenly and we, even as teachers and adults, became scared and confused in the work we were doing. It was act to make us realize that anger not only puts a negative impact of the teacher but it discourages and lessens the confidence of students. Hence, it is important for all teachers to maintain a calm and friendly attitude with students throughout the learning period. This increases the learning capacity and encourages students to be more active and creative in classrooms.Tayyaba Bano Primary School Teacher (Teaching Class 3), GGPS Model Community School Makli

“The training was executed in a very timely manner which is mostly overlooked in some events. All activities are thoroughly explained to us and the facilitators are very cooperative as well. Moreover, Morning Meeting was a new learning for me. Engaging students in activities like Morning Meetings, will help them become more confident and friendly towards each other. In addition, this activity will also develop a good understanding amongst the students. I will definitely incorporate this activity in my school.Sahiba Khushk, Primary School Teacher, GGPS Chara Memon School, Thatta

“Every child has their own personality and talent. From this training, we have learnt not to judge students on the basis of their learning ability or personality.  In the child psychology and child rights session, we have learnt that we should be calm and friendly with children who have a slow or weak learning capability. IF we become harsh, our strict attitude will further weaken the child and he or she will lose their confidence completely. In order to improve their capabilities, we must engage them more in practical activities. The low cost no cost material development session was very effective and informative. The material used to develop creative art will help increase the creative skills of students and give a boost to their enthusiasm level. Students enjoy working through playing, therefore, we as teachers have to engage them with us and develop a child-friendly classroom so that we can all gain positive results.” Azra Abbasi, Primary School Teacher (Class teacher of Grade 3), GGPS Qazi Maula School, Thatta

Participants assessing a new born child.

According to the Afghan Health and Demographic Survey of 2016, 5.5 percent of children under five years and 4.5 percent of infants die each year of preventable illnesses in Afghanistan. Though the death rate, compared to previous years, has reduced remarkably, it is still much higher as compared to other countries.

To reduce the infant and child mortality rate, many consistent efforts at the primary healthcare level are needed. Building the capacity of healthcare practitioners in handling of newborns, infants and children under five years at health facilities is identified as one such need. Conducting a training on Integrate Management of Newborn and Child Illnesses (IMNCI) is seen as one approach to meeting this need.

The IMNCI is a systematic approach to children’s health which focuses completely on the child, as a whole. This means not only focusing on curative care and diseases but also on the prevention of the disease for which the child is seeking medical attention. This approach was developed as a joint effort of the UNICEF and WHO in 1992 and approach was first implemented in Africa and then later adopted by other countries. Being trained on IMNCI is now a requirement of the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) Afghanistan, thus all its health partners are required to implement it in their health facilities. This vital approach to child health care facilitates health workers in improve patient assessments, diagnosis, case management and referrals. Based on its dire need in rural Afghanistan and in accordance to the MoPH requirement, the Partnership for Strengthening Mother, Neonatal Care for Health (PSMNCH) project prioritized to conduct IMNCI trainings in all its six health facilities.

The first IMNCI, seven-day training under the project was conducted for one nurse each from all the six health facilities in December 2017. Since the training required practical clinical exercises, it was held at the Nangarhar regional hospital and facilitated by the national IMNCI trainers (MoPH regional trainers). The training aimed at reducing mortality rates of newborn, infants and children under five years, by simply enhancing nursing skills through:

  • Improving case management skills of health-care staff
  • Improving health care services delivery
  • Implementing MoPH standards of IMNCI
  • Improving family and community health practices

The IMNCI is a standard package which is inclusive of a series of books, charts, and forms, which were all introduced and practised on during training. The training was divided into two sections; theoretical and clinical practices. In the theory sessions, the IMNCI books were read and discussed. Forms, charts and booklets were filled and exercised. While in the clinical practice, participants were taken to the Out Patient Department (OPD) and In Patient Department (IPD) for monitoring and delivering case assessments, diagnosis and management of related cases discussed in the theoretical sessions. Participating health practitioners were also taken to the pediatric ward of Nangarhar hospital where they discussed signs and symptoms, diagnostic steps and management of different cases included cold, pneumonia, diarrhea, severe diseases, baby warming and resuscitation of unwell babies.

Participants were enrolled in practicing various methods including:

  • Protecting newborn from hypothermia
  • Resuscitation of abnormal newborn
  • Usage of ambu bag
  • Hand-washing practices
  • Breastfeeding and examination of newborn babies
  • Assessment and diagnosis of child aged under 2 months and under 5 years
  • Assessment of danger signs and severe cases

The training delivered sessions on:

  • Universal precaution of newborn where it was discussed how a new born should be safely handled during the first time of their birth in relation to their cleaning, warming and positioning.
  • Routine care of newborns with focus on vaccination, breastfeeding, hygiene and clothing.
  • Alternative feeding methods
  • Case assessment, diagnosis, management and referral of child aged under 2 months children and 5 years

Nurses’ newly acquired knowledge from the training has enabled them to properly assess, diagnose and manage illnesses of newborn and children under five years visiting the health facilities in rural Nangarhar.

The IMNCI is vital for improving child health. The training has helped increase our knowledge on assessment and management of multiple diseases in children aged between under two months and five years,

shared Hanif, a nurse at Nawda Mora Clinic.

[1] Integrate Management of Newborn and Child Illnesses (IMNCI)

The buyer displays embroidery designs and color combination used on wall hangings.

As a small district in interior Sindh, Umerkot has a limited a market space for rural artisans to expand their handicraft business to be able to reach large consumer groups.  To expand this outreach, twelve Sales and Marketing Agents (SMAs) from among the rural artisans in Umerkot, were facilitated with a market exposure visit to Mithi and a two-day Capacity building Training. This exposure opportunity aimed at building artisans’ awareness on new market trends and consumer demands outside of Umerkot district and familiarizing them with product pricing, bargaining with middlemen and customers and creating market linkages that will enable a sustaining business environment for these  women artisans from remote villages of Umerkot.

Buyers at the Mithi marketplace warmly welcomed the SMAs from Umerkot and made them comfortable enough to display their finished products, the materials with which they were produced and prices at the foreign market. The artisans were overwhelmed with joy to see their traditional embroidered and appliquéd products being well-received and valued among buyers in Mithi.

Potential buyers and renown retailers of Mithi, such as, Nathoo Raam Block Printing and Handi Crafts, Mama Handi Crafts, Waswani Handi Crafts and another local entrepreneur, met with the Umerkot artisans and showed them their own products as well to give them an idea of the product cycle, latest market trends and best selling products. These experienced retailers further shared tried and tested, successful, marketing techniques with the artisans to enhance their business circle, networks and advertising skills. This was a new learning for the artisans and they openly welcome it as it would surely help in building their handicraft enterprises.

Most of the handicrafts salesmen in Mithi encouraged the SMAs to invest in producing new products by using locally available raw materials and fabric. One of the local entrepreneurs displayed his new range of products, including purses, handbags and pouches, made from shawls that are easily available in local markets, of different designs at his finishing unit and told them how popular these products were.

During the visit, the SMAs from Umerkot received an order of hundred cushions from a popular Mithi retailer, Loveraj Handicrafts. The artisans dealt with confidence and professionalism with their customer and assured him that the order given would be timely completed, with utmost attention to quality.

I gathered innovative ideas to strengthen and increase the work of rural artisans. We had limited access to buyers before. I am confident that our handicrafts will be sold in the urban markets in good price now.,

expressed Naz Pari, SMA from Village Talo Malo, Umerkot.

Facilitator from Health Net-Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (HN-TPO) training Community Health Workers on Controlling Malaria.

Under its’ Maternal Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) project in Afghanistan, Community World Service Asia conducted Community-Based Health Care (CBHC) trainings in across six of its sub health centers in the Badiulabad, Salingar, Shamuram, Ghazi Abad, Nawdamorra, and Surkhakan villages of Laghman province.  The trainings took place between 15 November to 9 December, 2017 and were attended by 23 men and 23 women Community Health Workers (CHW) in the target areas.

The main objective of these trainings was to train CHWs to provide quality primary health care services that would lower mortality and morbidity rates in the catchment areas. This goal was divided into three main targets:

  1. To enhance the target community’s access to primary health care services
  2. To enhance mothers’ access to MNCH service es, such as safe deliveries
  3. To enhance the community’s knowledge about disease prevention

A Female Community Health (FCH) Supervisor and male nurse from each sub health center facilitated the training in their respective health facilities. They training focused on teaching staff about:

  • Common disease, definition, signs and symptoms
  • Causes of common diseases
  • Diagnosis and treatment of common diseases
  • Rational prescription

Additionally, the CBHC curriculum was shared with the participants which covered various health topics regarding preventive and curative care. Description, diagnosis, treatment and medicines for common diseases have been explained in the curriculum.  Moreover, it includes prescription of various medicines and their side effects.

Participants in the training were taught on how to conduct health education at community level. In order to improve their prescription writing skills, they were trained on dosage and side effects of each medicine. The training enabled the CHWs to prescribe medicines based on the CBHC curriculum discussed with them during the training sessions.

Since Laghman province is an endemic area for malaria prevalence, in the last week of the training, a two-day session on malaria was coordinated with Health Net-Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (HN-TPO) who have extensive experience on Community Based Management of Malaria (CBMM). The session enabled the CHWs to properly diagnose, treat and refer malaria cases. During the CBMM session, the health workers were coached and were given time to practice their skills during the sessions; this included collecting blood samples, making slides, testing strips, and prescribing medicines to patients. Specific guidance on the Rapid Diagnostic test and how to prescribe a malaria positive patient using the Arthesoinate Combine Therapy (ACT) was also given. These skills learnt at the trainings were essential for the community health workers in providing high quality health services to vulnerable communities as they visit house after house.

We have always believed that childrens’ primary human right was to be fed and clothed,

confessed Zarmina, a 28-year-old mother of two daughters. Zarmina’s elder daughter is old enough to be sent to school but Zarmina felt it wasn’t as important to educate her daughters so they stayed home with her. The family of four lived a quiet and rustic life, farming for a livelihood, on their small plot of land in their village in Qala-e-Akhund of Behsood district, Nangarhar province. The mobility of women and girls in Qala-e-Akhund village, similar to many others in the area, is restricted to the boundaries of their village.

Our community firmly believes that girls and women were born to stay within their home yards, and it is dishonourable for them to go beyond that yard for education or work,

Zarmina affirmed. Though having accepted the cultural norms, it was with a faint heart. Zarmina herself did not agree with these customs and was not happy with her community’s low aspirations for girls and women.

Community World Service Asia conducted training on Child Rights and Gender Equality in Zarmina’s village in June 2015 as part of Girls Education Project Phase IV.  Zarmina, along with fourteen other women from her village participated in this training.

For just participating in the training, we had to meet and take permission of community leaders, religious bodies and Community Development Council (CDC) members. Although it was all worth it. We learnt about child rights, gender equality, child labour, and the negative impacts of early and child marriages, the rights of the disabled and about child protection.  This was the first time us women got the opportunity to learn and discuss our views on such sensitive topics. These topics were rarely spoken of in our communities. Therefore, to be aware of them and discuss them was very informative and mind-opening for us. It was after the training that we realized that it is our responsibility to enrol our children; boys and girls, in schools and support their education process,

shared Zarmina.

After taking the training, Zarmina and her peers started taking steps to convince their husbands to allow their school-aged children to attend school. In addition, Zarmina and three other mothers who had attended the training  established a Volunteer Education Committee (VEC). Through this Committee, they took on the role of teaching other women and community members what they had learned at the Child Rights and Gender Equality training. Through brief one to one meetings and home visits, the VEC encourages families in the village to send their children to school and educate them on the negative impacts of restricting children from studying and attending school.

Zarmina and other VEC members soon realized that more than 70 percent of the families in their village were against girls’ education because of the community’s negative perceptions about educating girls. They believed that there is no need to educate girls as they will be married some day and will take care of their families. Moreover, it was a shame for a father to send his daughter to school or work; hence girls would stay within the households. However, within a year and through consistent advocacy and determination, the VEC lowered this number to about 10-15%. The families that still hesitate from sending their children to schools  cite various reasons to do so. Some of these reasons include economic constraints, long distances to schools, and in some case children’s disabilities. Overall, Zarmina and the VEC have made commendable accomplishments in increasing enrolment levels of children in their village.  Something that seemed unthinkable was made possible due to the resilience and motivation of a few mothers.

A baseline survey was conducted in January 2016 in Mehterlam district, Laghman province and Behsood and Surkhroad districts, Nangarhar province. The survey covered 22 Girls’ High Schools in 22 villages in the said districts. According to the survey, 11 percent of the interviewed CDC members, village elders, religious bodies and community members and parents favoured girls’ education while 89 percent disapproved of it. As a result of the continuous awareness raising and one to one meetings of the VEC members with the community, the End line survey exhibited an 85 percent increase in favour for girls’ education. All groups expressed their approval in sending their children to schools, especially girls.

Zarmina proudly expressed,

I really feel proud that I have been effective in serving my community and convincing my people to send their children to school. The VEC members will most certainly continue meeting community people and working for this cause. We hope that one day there will be no child out of school, not only in our community, but in the entire country.

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