Archives

The team of Community World Service Asia and PDMA conducted a meeting with the families of food assistance project implemented in district Tharparkar.

Community World Service Asia has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) in Sindh. The core components of the agreement focus on:

  1. Disaster Risk Reduction and Response
  2. Advocacy on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction
  3. Quality and Accountability

Through this agreement, PDMA Sindh and Community World Service Asia will consort together on strengthening disaster risk reduction and response mechanisms in the province and advocating and acting together on climate change adaptation, emergency response, and relevant recovery activities to help Sindh’s disaster affected communities.

Ajay Kumar, Assistant Director Operations of PDMA Sindh, with his team, conducted a field visit to oversee the projects in Sujawal, Badin, and Tharparkar districts this August. The team first visited a community-level Emergency-Operating Center (EOC) and met with the Disaster Management Committee (DMC) established in Rahim Dino Thaeem, a village in Sujawal. The committee briefed the functions of the DMC and Emergency Operation Center. Ajay Kumar suggested that the EOCs needed to be linked with each other as well as connected with the district EOC through a wireless system.  Community World Service Asia assured to work on the suggestion and analyzed how this would further strengthen the role of the EOC in the community.

PDMA Sindh team then visited Community World Service Asia’s Food Security and Livelihood project in Abbas Thebo, Badin. There, their team along with our staff, me the farmers, enrolled in the project supported, Farmer Field School (FFS). FFS promotes sustainable agricultural practices. It examines most appropriate methods of irrigation water use, role of Macro and Micro Nutrient trends in plants growth, weed management, land preparation, sowing methodology, demarcation of acres, and determining seed quality.

Abbas Thebo farmers shared that the involvement in FFS has enhanced their working capability in the agricultural fields.  Approximately 12,000 fruit and forest trees have been allotted to and planted by the farmers, and kitchen gardening kits were distributed to women-headed households. Farmers participated in different festivals including the Farmers Festival recently held in August and took part in exposure visits to increase their knowledge on the subject.

The team’s next stop was at Baghtani village in Chachro, Tharparkar where they met drought affected families supported by PDMA Sindh in 2015. The Baghtani community still remembered the team members and praised the organization for visiting the village again. They told PDMA Sindh that its’ food assistance, given every seven months during the drought in 2015, helped the villagers survive the peak of the drought season. The food rations received were sufficient in quantity for their families. The community these days is very grateful to the rains they have received as it has brought their rain-deprived homeland some relief.

Upon the end of his visit, Ajay Kumar expressed,

“I commend the efforts of Community World Service Asia’s field team and the opportunity given to me to meet communities that have benefited from the various projects. It was nice to observe the enhanced capacity of communities in disaster risk reduction, early warning, sustainable agricultural farming, and strengthening of community institutions. This will all ultimately help communities to depend less on external support.”

Nisar Ahmed Memon, a 43 years old headmaster at the Government Boys Main Sindhi Chandia School, in Sujawal, Sindh, has always been passionate about bringing change through education. With this resolve, he joined the field of teaching in 1992 and has since then been engaging children to learn through play and active learning.

Community World Service Asia visited our school in 2015 introducing the DRR component under the Christian Aid supported project. I was instantly interested in the idea as it was a new concept and people in a rural area like Sujawal were not aware of disaster management before. We shared our profile with the team and a Disaster Risk Reduction Training was organized. Two DRR trainings were held for two consecutive years starting in 2016. Fifty students participated in each training. Participants were taught to analyze and build on knowledge to identify and prepare for major disasters and on how to cope afterwards. These skills were particularly important given the large-scale flooding that Sujawal experienced in 2010 damaging many of our houses, crops and savings.

The training focused on six disasters; earthquake, fire, flood, heavy rainfall and cyclone. Sessions on measures to take pre, during and post the various disasters on minimizing its destruction and the after effects were conducted. Being the first training of its kind, teachers and students at Nisar Memon’s school showed keen interest and enthusiasm in learning through group and drill activities.

As an outcome of the training, DRR groups were formed at the Main Sindhi Chandia School. With six groups in total, two students from each class were selected to represent as members in the groups.  The groups have been divided as Flood Group, Cyclone Group, Fire Group, Earthquake Group, First Aid Group and Planning & Coordination Group and each group has a representation of fifteen to twenty students. A faculty member is assigned to each group to supervise them. These groups then train other students on specific DRR practices so that the knowledge is shared with everyone in school. Every week, these DRR groups brief students of a selected classroom on possible natural hazards and the measures that need to be taken. A drill activity is conducted as a demonstration for the students to clearly understand the measures, use of equipment and their role if any such emergency situation arises. All students get the opportunity to equally participate in the drill activities, enabling each student to apply their knowledge on DRR to real situations.

We encourage students to share their learning at homes as well which enhances their understanding and strengthens their involvement in the community. In addition, the whole school, including teachers and students, are aware of the six main disasters and the measures to be taken. This is a great achievement for us as an institution because in rural areas this kind of skill development is not generally found.

In school curriculums, the topic of natural disasters is touched upon under the subject of Social Studies but that does not provide students with DRR related knowledge or skills. Nisar Memon has introduced drill activities as part of the teaching curriculum supporting the Social Studies lessons on disasters.

After covering the chapters on natural disasters, the teachers then engage students in drill activity of the disaster taught, which allows students to develop a complete understanding of the disaster and of the measures that need to be taken when it occurs,

explained Nisar.

A DRR Carnival was organized to provide an opportunity to young children to present their DRR work. The main purpose of the event, celebrated on 25th May, 2017, was to engage teachers and students from different schools to hear about their experiences; how they implemented DRR in their schools and how it contributed to making their schools safer.

Our students participated in the event with great enthusiasm. They prepared plays and skits to perform at the carnival which displayed various disasters and the role of men, women and children in tackling these disasters to reduce loss.

A total of five hundred guests, including students and teachers from various schools, government officials and other stakeholders, actively participated at the event. DRR themed paintings made by students of GBPS Main Sindhi Chandia, Sujawal were also on display.

The active headmaster, Nisar Memon, also participated in a four-day training on Emergency Preparedness and Contingency Planning which was conducted to train government and other relevant institutions staff on effective DRR methods.

Falak Nawaz from National Disaster Management Authority Pakistan, lead facilitator at the training, conducted an effective and productive training which enhanced our knowledge on international strategies for Disaster risk reduction and contingency planning. We were briefed on the difference between contingency planning and disaster risk management planning. In addition, we were oriented on the importance of contingency planning.

Students in rural areas readily welcome whatever new learning opportunities they are offered as it allows them to further enhance their knowledge, intellect and skills.

We have displayed a school map in the school which shows different exits and placements of various equipment that are to be used in times of various disasters. We have hanged bottles filled with little sand outside some classrooms. In case of no warning, the movement of the bottles will indicate earthquake or strong winds of cyclone. This way the teachers and the students will be able to take immediate measures required for the safety of all. In addition, fire extinguishers are placed in the school premises and their locations displayed on the school map. We want to ensure maximum safety of our students therefore we implement brief revisions of the map and drill activities on a weekly basis as well. We have also installed emergency bells which will ring at the time of the disaster to alert everyone in the premises.

Students are trained to react accordingly to different disasters and escape routes are identified. The disaster groups are actively involved with students on how to respond to emergencies on a weekly basis. This has enriched the knowledge and developed DRR skills of around 850 students in the GBPS School.

In future, these children will grow up and be in different places. If any disaster occurs, they will be able to protect themselves and the communities around them. This thought motivates me everyday to further work on this cause,

expressed Nisar contentedly.

With more of these trainings and DRR activities conducted in school, the interaction between teachers and students has increased, strengthening their relation and building student-teacher trust. Many students at the school were afraid of their teachers at first and were hesitant to express themselves. After participating in the training and drill sessions, students have become more expressive and vocal with the teachers, making the learning environment in school more friendly and productive.

I am happy to announce that our enrollment has increased from 723 to 850 students in just a year. Our students and teachers have shared their learning and experiences at homes and communities. This has raised our standard of learning which has attracted many parents to enroll their children in our school. The families completely trust us with their children.

Recalling the floods in 2010, Nisar shared that most of Sujawal drowned in the floods. By the time the flood warning was announced, many women and children had already drowned in the rising waters as preparedness measures were not in place and there was no awareness on DRR.

As the schools reopened after the flood water receded, families feared to send their children to schools. The interest in education decreased due to the overwhelming fear of the floods. Similarly, they feared of other disasters like earthquakes and cyclones hitting their homes and villages. This DRR initiative has increased the confidence of students as well as their families. They are fully aware on how to react when a warning is announced and at times of emergency situations.

Lives are secured and that is a great improvement on its own. We have started a continuous process as these children will grow up and have families one day. They will share their knowledge with their children. This initiative will save lives of generations to come,

beamed Nisar.

As part of developing the syllabus for the Post-Graduate diploma in NGO Management, faculty from universities and colleges of Punjab, Peshawar and Sindh (Jamshoro) along with representatives from the provincial social welfare department and Community World Service Asia staff came together for a three-day consultative workshop in Lahore this August. The key objective of the workshop was to discuss and agree on the main contents of the teaching guideline for each of the modules taught under the NGO management course and develop clear action plans for the course.

The interactive and discussion filled workshop facilitated by Takeshi Komino, Deputy Director and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Expert, Community World Service Asia, had a participation of twenty academia practitioners, fifteen women and five men. These included University Professors, Assistant Professors, Lecturers and college teachers, from across Pakistan.

To support universities in teaching about humanitarian and development practices (based on field work) and empower them on tools and approaches used by development professionals, Community World Service Asia succeeded in developing partnership with two Universities i.e., University of Peshawar and University of the Punjab. Both of these universities are among the oldest institutions in Pakistan. In both the universities, the Department of Social Work has been assessed to being very similar to the work of the aid and development sector.

Community World Service Asia then initiated the process of supporting both institutions in designing this new post-graduate diploma course through a six step process leading to the launch of the degree. Peshawar University already launched the degree in February this year and received an overwhelming application response from graduate students and some NGO practitioners. While, University of Punjab aims to start offering the course in December this year and University of Sindh plans to initiate it sometime in their 2018 semesters.

This workshop is part of the technical and consultative support that Community World Service Asia is providing to the academia in assuring that the degree fully meets its objective of familiarizing students with the fundamental concepts of NGO management and its project implementations, its role in bringing about social change through explaining the various dimensions in which it works. The next step in this process is to conduct a Training of Trainers on “Creative Facilitation Skills” to further strengthen the capacity of faculty members teaching the various course modules.  This is planned to be held in Peshawar University this October.

Academia Insights:

  • Sonia Omar, Assistant Professor, Social Work Department, Punjab University

    “This course is really a need of the hour as far as the significance of this degree is concerned, considering the situation in Pakistan. We are a developing country; we cannot always rely on the government alone. Therefore, we have to support and encourage NGOs and the university and academia needs to take a step ahead. We must add specific development and aid practice related programs to our departments and courses. These will help future practitioners and those who are already in the field. It will also help those who want to establish NGOs to serve the people of the country.

    This three-day workshop really helped in building the right curriculum for the NGO management course. We are expecting that the drafted curriculum will be further refined. We at Punjab University really intend to start the degree within 6 months. I am sure we will be getting a great response from the students.

    Community World Service Asia has been very facilitative through our collaboration. When so many think tanks from NGO sector, academia and social welfare departments working together always ends in very positive outcomes.”

  • Sumera Farid, Teacher of Introduction to NGOs Module, Social Sciences Department, Peshawar University

    As teachers, this course has been very interactive with a lot of participation from students. For students, this course has been very interesting and new. They have all been very enthusiastic, sometimes critical and very active in discussions. It has been more of a two-way learning process for us. With teaching this course, we really felt like we’re contributing a lot in the learning process of students and youth. The exposure visits and special lectures that we have included as part of the modules acts as developing linkages for these students and helps to set a foundation for future professional careers for students. We organised a visit to the Drug Addiction Centres and lectures from representatives of Social Welfare Departments as part of the first semester. Admissions for fall semester have also been announced for new students for this degree and we are expecting many applications.”

  • Bashir Khan, Deputy Director, Social Welfare Department (KPK) & Visiting Faculty at Peshawar University.

    “I am teaching the students of this Diploma course on social legislation policies in regards to the non-profit sector. Most of the students in the course have social sciences background, and only few who are actually NGO practitioners, so this is a great learning opportunity for them. This is mostly new information for them and many students have joined this course with a hope to be employed in the private social/development sector with knowledge of this additional information. Today, we are here at this workshop to review the course modules and revise and design the course to best fit the understanding level and requirements of students.”

     

  • Farhana Noreen, Human Rights Teacher, Social Sciences Department, Peshawar University.

    “I am teaching the Human Rights modules to students in this degree. We received more applications from new under-grad students for this diploma course. Therefore, we have started the modules and subjects from the very basic level. The teachers for this course have been given 30% flexibility on teaching methodologies which is great. Students are very enthusiastic to learn as they are eager to join the NGO sector. As part of the course, we organised exposure visits of students to the Ministry of Human Rights as practical learning. This aspect of learning has been very effective and of great interest to students.

    As one of the inputs for this workshop, we do feel that some of the modules of the course need reshuffling in terms of where to be taught in the semester timelines for it to be more effective.”

  • Mohammad Arshad Abbasi, Assistant Professor, Social Work Department, Punjab University

    “NGO management and leadership is a new concept in Pakistan. A large number of organizations are working in the NGO sector but very few of them have the expertise skills and are academically qualified to work on social issues and in the humanitarian/development sector. This diploma has been designed to equip our students with the skills, knowledge and expertise on how to work with NGOs, specially on enhancing skills on developing project proposals, fund-raising and on human rights issues and the various laws and policies related to NGOs. I hope that our students will get maximum benefits through this diploma. Furthermore, this diploma program will assist in developing expert and trained human resources that will ultimately play an important role in the NGO sector and in improving the sector. The consultation by Community World Service Asia and their technical and financial assistance has played a key role in developing the curriculum of this degree program. And time to time, training and exposure opportunities provided by them have helped us a lot in refining and finalizing the course contents and to get it approved by the concerned authorities.”

  • Waheed Akbar, Lecturer, Social Work Department, University of Sindh in Jamshoro.

    “As far as my department and our university is concerned, this is a very helpful course for the future of our students, given that they will get this sort of professional knowledge through all the modules included in this one-year diploma. I think this will be a milestone in our department and as well as for students of social work in this area. During this course and after completion, students will be equipped with specialized knowledge and skills and their capacities will be enhanced. Our university will be creating resources for the development and humanitarian sector of our province.  The NGO management diploma is also offered to professionals who are already working in the field, though many of them don’t have the exact NGO academic qualification. Therefore, this will be an added platform and capacity building opportunity in the form of a certified degree for them.

    This consultative workshop gave us a chance to share and learn a lot of knowledge from faculties from universities from Peshawar and Punjab. Through this workshop, we aimed to polish and develop the syllabus, we discussed new ideas and possibilities. We also realized that there are some specific and technical areas in the course, for example social entrepreneurship or financial management etc., that we as faculty need to build our own capacity in as well to teach the students. For this we seek opportunities to enhance and build our own competencies to make this degree a sure success.”

It is unfortunate to realise that many countries in the world are still not investing enough in prevention and preparedness of disasters.. From a development perspective, disaster risk reduction is vital for building a more equitable and sustainable future of vulnerable, at-risk communities. Investing in prevention and preparedness is vital to the systematic efforts of increasing disaster resilience.  In this very attempt, Community World Service Asia works towards disaster risk reduction (DRR)as a cross-cutting theme in all its programming to strengthen the resilience of rural communities. Recently, we facilitated an exposure visit of a group of volunteers from Indus Resource Centre (IRC), Dadu to experience some DRR related activities executed in Thatta by our project staff. Eighteen participants visited the Emergency Operation Centres (EOC) set up by us, in three separate villages..

The Indus Resource Center team commenced their visit from Achar Khaskheli Village where a meeting was conducted with the Women Enterprise Group (WEG). The artisans of the WEG shared their experience of receiving a training on Community Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM)which was very helpful to them during the 2015 floods. The team was further taken to the Emergency Operating Center in Nooh Waliro Village where Mr. Hanif Nooh Waliro, the Local Support Organization’s President, gave a briefing on the process of the formation of the Community Organization (CO), Village Organization (VO) and the Local Support Organization under the livelihood projects. He added,

“strong efforts are put in the development of the village by the members of these organizations and the people of the village are appreciating the progress made through different activities.”

At Phul Jakhro Village, the team visited the Emergency Operating Centre where Phul Jakhro, LSO President, shared his thoughts about the productive utilization of the equipments used at the centre during emergency situations. The EOC’s shelter was also visited where a questions and answers session was held and the queries of the team were effectively addressed. Phul Jahkhro also briefed the visitors on the information charts they have put on the walls. A fire drill was performed by the Phul Jakhro community where a manual siren call was made and a woman called for help on a mega-phone. The community people reached at the scene with buckets and fire extinguishers, carried rescue efforts and extinguished the fire.

Qurban Ali Mallah, President LSO Union Coucil Gozo shared that they are grateful to Community World Service Asia for hosting such a fruitful exposure visit.

“The interaction with business women from the WEG reflected empowerment and confidence building. The EOC and the installed equipment were new for them at this level therefore they learnt a lot.”

In another occasion, Rashid Chandio, IRC representative, said that,

“women participation was laudable. The trainings on DRR have really brought magnificent changes into their lives.”

Rukhsana, an IRC volunteer, added that they would replicate such activities in their area to increase women participation.

Sheherbano belongs to Haji Talib Bijoro, a small village in Thatta district, Sindh, Pakistan. At just 18 years of age, Sheherbano has already been working as an information secretary in her village, facilitating various NGOs who work with the community there. Passionate about working towards the betterment of her village, she spoke about her participation in the recently held three-day disaster risk reduction (DRR) training.

“In the beginning when Community World Service Asia came to our village, they discussed how they were going to work with us for the betterment of our community and our village. We learnt so many things about fires, storms, floods and earthquakes. They informed us about the different measures we could undertake to keep ourselves safe during floods and fires,” she said.

Talking about the precautionary measures to take during disasters, Sheherbano said that while she and her fellow villagers were previously unaware and uninterested, participation in the training had changed their perspective and they had become interested in learning about preventative measures.

“In case of a flood, as soon as we hear about it on the radio news, we should take the elderly and the children of our village to a safer place. I also learnt that we should keep our valuables with ourselves and in case of an emergency, we should find a place which is above the ground level to keep ourselves safe,” she added.

Sheherbano is eager to spread this knowledge with her family and friends in neighbouring villages as well. She said that weddings or other village ceremonies are good opportunities for her to tell her friends about her learning at the training conducted by Community World Service Asia staff in Haji Talib Bijoro.

When a fellow villager told Sheherbano about a fire that broke out in their village, she shared her knowledge on the actions and precautionary measures one should take as she had learnt during the DRR trainings. She shared the causes behind fires breaking out and spreading fast and how to effectively and immediately contain it with her neighbours and community members.

Students and teachers participated actively in a walk/rally, in district Sujawal, organized by Community World Service to mark the importance of Global Earth Day.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Every year, Global Earth Day is celebrated across the globe to call for action against harmful environmental practices and to help spread awareness about protecting the Earth’s natural environment. To mark the importance of this day and the cause it represents, Community World Service Asia, with support from Christian Aid, pledged to plant 4000 trees in various localities of districts Thatta and Sujawal in Sindh. The team collaborated with Plan International, Action for Humanitarian Development (AHD) and Voice of Youth Group to make this possible.

Titled ‘One Family, One Tree,’ the campaign ran for an entire week  (18-22 April) and was inaugurated by chief guest Mr. Abdul Latif Brohi, Assistant Deputy Commissioner , who planted a tree at the DC office in Thatta. Over the five days of the campaign, trees were planted by men, women and children in schools, government offices, roadsides and villages. Youth volunteers and teachers also participated in the activity.

Community members from Union Council Bijora, District Thatta, put evacuation drills into practice as they gather on the high ground of the embankment, constructed to protect the area from flooding.

Community World Service Asia has conducted DRR trainings for 858 community members in UC Bijora since 2013 as part of the Livelihoods project supported by Christian Aid!