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A group photo of the training participants

Community World Service Asia organized and hosted a four-day training on Project Planning for development and humanitarian organizations in the third week of September in Murree. The training focused on enhancing capacities of participants on project planning, its tools and their application, and donor-specific planning approaches and frameworks.

Thirty-five participants from eleven organizations including Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKDN), Helpage International, Malteser International, Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), Multan Discoes Trust Association, Sungi Development Foundation, Forum for Language Initiatives (FLI), AAR Japan, AWARD, The Punjab Educational Endowment Fund (PEEF) and Helping Hand for Relief & Development (HHRD) took part in the training. The training was facilitated by Zeeshan Noel, a development professional and trainer with expertise in project management, policy research and advocacy, and emergency response planning. Noel has been working in the development sector for almost ten years, and has been associated with development agencies, human/civil rights bodies, NGOs, and public sector offices.

Comprehensive project planning and effective compliance with the requirements of donor agencies is often one of the key challenges faced by humanitarian and development organizations. Many small and medium scale organizations in the region lack these formal skills or have very limited focus on this significant aspect of project management.  Whereas, it is the efficiency and effectiveness of  a project’s planning that determines its true success. Applying accurate planning tools help in the smooth execution of a project, continuous tracking of progress and towards readjusting implementation approaches at any stage of the project, needed to achieve the desired outputs.

The prime objective of the training was to create a conceptual clarity on the subject of and improve Project Planning skills, specifically in development phase of projects. This four days training was designed for mid-level managers with interest and prior experience in project planning and execution of development sector organizations. Participants, with prior basic knowledge on project planning and management, were selected for this training. Key concepts of pre-planning stage were introduced in the training, including understanding on Project Cycle Management (PCM), key results, problem tree analysis and Logical Framework Analysis (LFA). It helped the participants to thoroughly understand and provided a base for practically applying these tools.

On the first day, many participants were new to the concepts of PCM and Logical Framework Analysis, specially those who did not have any prior experience in the planning phase before. The timing of the training had to be adjusted and duration of some sessions had to be prolonged to make sure that all participants are on the same page and planned topics are fully covered. However, by day two the concepts were much clearer and actual practice on developing the plans was initiated.

By the end of training, all the participants were able to develop project planning and implementation tools for their organizations. Through group exercises, they developed problem tree analysis, LFA, Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), Performance Management Framework (PMF), Work plan and budget and costed work plan. In addition to the planning tools, M&E plans were developed and the concept of GSMART planning was also explained.

As a concluding exercise, an action plan for the participants was drafted in which each organization identified the gaps in their project planning and committed to introduce the newly learnt tools to overcome these challenges. Besides all learning, one of the key activities of the training was its fun night in which all participants, coming from different corners of the country, exhibited their cultures and tradition. They sang folk songs, danced and played games.

Muhammad Fazil Sardar, General Manager-Monitoring, Evaluation & Research, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF), participated as a chief guest on the final day of the training and awarded certificates to all the participants. Addressing the training, he talked about the importance of project planning tools especially problem tree analysis to identify the root causes.

Project planning tools carry equal significance in project cycle management and day to day life as well.

A seven-day workshop on the use of visual communication tools was organized for humanitarian and development workers at a training centre in Pakistan’s hill-station, Murree, this July. Twenty-two participants representing a mix of local non-governmental organizations and internationals ones took part in this residual training which focused on building their visual communication skills. Through this engaging training,  participants enhanced their capacities required to translate development and humanitarian related messages used for various purposes, such as educational, behavior change or advocacy and campaigning into visual language. Hands-on techniques on when, how and innovatively to use them were taught and practised.

Participants Experience:

  • A Third Eye

    “I came here to acquire new skills. Being a part of this training has given me the ability to now translate what I see and how I feel into visual imagery. I feel that the camera is my third eye now.”

    Sarfaraz Qamar (TIPU Foundation Pakistan)
    Participant

     

  • Learning Through Diversity

    “The highlight of my seven days at O’Spring was the opportunity to learn from such a diverse group of trainees. Diversity has so many layers: age, experience, themes, even geographic. Community World Service Asia brought us all together on one page, offering a chance to absorb so many perspectives.”

    Mehr Aftab Salma (Aga Khan Agency for Habitat, Pakistan)
    Participant

  • Role of Media in Development

    “I am really glad that I got the opportunity to be a part of this workshop. It met all the current needs of development sector and built our capacity to use the basic visual tools in our work. Now I can present visual stories more efficiently and effectively.”

    Saira Basharat (Community Support Concern, Pakistan)
    Participant

  • Essentials of Learning

    “The participants made this training an effective one: their eagerness to learn and their relevant yet diverse experiences in communications, made the learning process a wholesome one. I am happy that the participants did not allow their differences to come in the way of their learning.”

    Imran Lashari (Plum Studios, Ogilvy & Mather Pakistan)
    Trainer

     

  • Your Behaviour Matters!

    “Good behaviour leads to constructive learning. I observed that the participants of this group were helpful towards each other. Also, I have never seen such cameras and poses before. Where do you get them from?”

    Liaquat Ali (O’Spring)
    Support Staff

     

  • My duty, Your safety

    “I don’t make exceptions for anyone. I treat everyone who comes here for a training, the same. I have learned to ignore when someone gets upset with me or happy because only by staying true to my duty can I ensure your safety.”

    Asghar Khan (O’Spring)
    Security Guard

     

The success of rural development depends upon the willingness and active participation of the local community in the development process. To ensure such participation, NGOs carry out extensive social mobilization activities within communities to raise awareness on sensitive issues. Social Mobilization is a cornerstone for participatory approach in rural development and poverty alleviation programs as it aims to create a sense of ownership amongst the people by involving them directly in the decision making process. Acknowledging the strong need and importance of social mobilization, the Capacity Institutionalization Team at Community World Service Asia held a five-day residential workshop on Social Mobilization this July in a hill-station training center in Murree. This training was offered to community mobilizers, social organizers and staff members of mid to small NGOs.

Twenty-five participants from different religious backgrounds belonging to interior Sindh, Punjab and KPK provinces attended the five-day workshop. The participants came in with the expectation to raise unanswered questions and provide their input on Social Mobilization and its methods, as a part of the learning process. Techniques on effective leadership skills, communication skills, social analysis, problem analysis were taught through plenary sessions, individual readings, group discussions, group presentations, role-plays, energizers, presentations, and video clips. This learning opportunity provided the participants with crucial tools to recognize issues within a society and how to effectively address them. Muhammad Bilal, a participant said, ‘this training has given us a lot of knowledge regarding community development/participation and how to effectively use tools to successfully implement our project goals and activities.’

Syed Moazzam Ali, the trainer for the event, with an extensive experience of conducting trainings with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), government institutions, communities and educational institutions across Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh ensured that the training remained as interactive and participatory as possible. Moazzam has been associated with leading Rights-based organizations such as Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and Amnesty International.

The main focus of the training being “social mobilization”, it included in depth session on the definition of a community and qualities of a good mobilizer, tiers of social mobilization, problem analysis and social analysis. In addition, there were many subtopics under the broader category such as, “development”, which included definition and types of development and philosophy and approaches to participatory development. Another underlying topic was “cross cutting themes,” including concepts on caring about the vulnerable in the process of social mobilization and the role of suppressed minority groups such as women, children, people with HIV/Aids, trans-gender and disabled.  The participants felt that this was an excellent choice of topics as one participant Shazia Lal stated, ‘I had no idea what is social/community mobilization but specially learning and attending this workshop has deepened my knowledge and learning.’ Overall, the training has shown positive results, with 92% of the participants claiming that their expectations from the training were met. In addition, the post-test scores showed a 70% improvement in topic based knowledge compared to the pre-tests.

At the last session of the workshop, all participants were awarded certificates for successfully completing the five-day training; this also formally closed the training. In addition, Mr. Moazzam thanked Community World Service Asia for organizing this training, and gave his contact details to the participants for any follow-up questions on the workshop to ensure its sustainability.

Nazmeen, one of the participants, reflected, “After coming here, I realized that the concepts we are learning are very important for constructing our society.  It has shown me how I should live in a society and how to support others. Furthermore, the things we take for granted and sometimes ignore actually end up being harmful for the society. Alone we are nothing, we have strength in numbers and that support from people is what constructs a good society. This is what I have learned from this training. I am fully equipped with the basic principles of developing a society, and what our responsibilities are in building such a society.”

Participant Views

  • “It was my first residential training on social mobilization. I had a wonderful and useful learning experience. The training environment was comfortable with no fear of learning or questioning. I found this training different in two aspects; one, the language was easy and secondly, there was a use of variety of activities with a humble attitude by the facilitator. Though I liked all sessions but mostly I liked social mapping exercise while visiting field in Murree. We worked in groups on different tools. Furthermore the linkages with the networks we work with will strengthen by applying the tools of social mobilization we studied in thetraining,” shared Jennifer Joseph, CSC-Christian Study Center Rawalpindi.

  • “I have 15 years of work experience in Social Mobilization but I was not aware of the tools and proper methods of social mobilization. Coming to this training has taught me these. I have realized that change comes from within a person and when I go back I will conduct two days training with my team to further my learnings. The learning was effectives due to the humble and friendly attitude of the facilitator. I suggest that grass-root level organizations should be invited because they require capacity building and an opportunity to grow,” expressed Yasmeen Khkwani, Savail Welfare Society Multan

Theatre has always been an art form which is extremely effective in inspiring and uniting communities by engaging audiences through entertaining and thought-provoking performances and dialogues. Through this interactive form of entertainment, awareness on social issues is raised and possible solutions to prevailing problems are sought. Recognizing the strong impact of this artistic medium, the Capacity Institutionalization Team at Community World Service Asia held a seven-day residential workshop titled, Theater for Development this June in a hill-station training centre in Murree.

The workshop was attended by twenty-three participants from parts of Sindh and Punjab and aimed at building the capacity of these participants, closely working with local, vulnerable communities to build awareness on social issues through theatre.  Techniques on effective theatre plays for social advocacy were taught at the training while also providing participants a multidimensional experience of learning through theory analysis and behavior study of different age groups. This learning opportunity enabled them to explore the fundamentals of theatre, art of creating stories, improvisation with groups and how to inculcate issue based content into an effective theatre performance.

Sarfraz Ansar, Actor, Director and Vocalist, with a vast experience of 25 years and having conducted over a thousand theatre performances at national and international levels was the lead facilitator at the training.  While, Idrees Ali Khan, theater performer, puppet maker and cultural activist for the last thirty years was the co facilitator. Idrees Ali has an expertise of directing more than a hundred plays on social issues in partnership with leading civil society organizations. Both the facilitators were from Azad theater Pakistan.

The training contents were developed around three major themes; Essentials and Fundamentals for Theater – this theme included various components namely body language, communication, expression, rhythm, emotions, images, and trust building; the  second theme, Theatre Development, included a history of theatre, script writing, storytelling, improvisation for the street, challenges and opportunities and theatre techniques; while the final theme focused on production and performance with an emphasis on the importance of costumes, lighting, sets and  back stage design.

At the workshop closing session, Liaqat Ali Tameemi, Executive Coordinator of Doaba Foundation participated as the chief guest to distribute Awards and certificates among workshop participants and formally closed the training. He thanked and acknowledged the efforts of Community World Service Asia and the Azad Theatre Pakistan and stressed on a need for a follow up of this workshop to ensure its sustainability.

  • Tahira Azam, Doaba Foundation

    “We, the Doaba team, are very satisfied with the training, learning and especially with the quality of lesson delivery of resource persons. We see this learning as a great skill and we will use learnt techniques in our community work.

    We request Community World Service Asia to extend follow up support to us in its implementation at community level especially with young children as Doaba planned to establish children clubs to impart health and hygiene awareness in villages.”

  • Zulfiqar Ahmed, Deutsche Welthungerhilfe

    “This training increased my understanding of theatre and its role in communication and advocacy. It helped me to understand possible effectiveness of using theatre tools in our awareness raising on food and nutrition related problems in targeted communities under projects. I feel happy and confident after learning new theatre techniques.”

  • Shamim Munir Khan , Doaba Foundation

    “This training has increased my confidence. I have learnt various theatre tools such as script writing, activism, rhythm, communication and other techniques.”

  • Tasneem Bashir, Doaba Foundation

    I have learnt a lot from this training about tools of theatre play. It inspired me to learn advance techniques of Production, Direction, Acting, Script Writing and Puppet Show in future. It would be great if Community World Service Asia help us in providing specialized trainings like these.”

  • Islam, Indus Theatre Development Organization- Khairpur Mirs

    “I learnt basic techniques of practicing theatre for development. The training contents were need based, relevant and beneficial for a theatre activist. Physical and mental exercised executed in training have sharpen our imagination, observation and improved body knowledge.”

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.”