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Group photo of all participants of the Disaster Preparedness and Contingency Planning Training Course.

Considering the susceptibility of the Sujawal District in Sindh, Pakistan, to natural and anthropogenic disasters, a lot of work still needs to be done to promote and streamline disaster risk reduction (DRR) approaches and activities among the local communities. Contingency planning in the wake of natural disasters in this newly established districts needs to be developed and improved.

To make the communities of Sujawal, and other disaster prone areas of Pakistan, more resilient to onset, recurrent disasters Community World Service Asia conducted a four-day training on Emergency Preparedness and Contingency Planning in Murree. The training held in June, was participated by nineteen representatives from line Departments of Sujawal, Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) Sindh, Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) KPK, National Disaster Management Authority Pakistan (NDMA) and Health and Education Departments.

The training aimed to enhance the skills and capacities of government staff in responding effectively pre, post and during emergencies (disasters) and to prepare the communities for such situations with effective and immediate contingency planning. The key agenda of the training aimed  to equip local authorities, who are focal points in their respective regions, to be well prepared for and respond to disasters, and mitigate its’ damages, efficiently and promptly. The training enabled the organizations and their staff to review their existing plans and make improvements where required.  It provided an opportunity to provincial institutions to share information and best practices among each other to promote mutual learning and extend cooperation.  The lead facilitator, Falak Nawaz, from Network of Disaster Management Practitioners (NDMP), explained the  project objectives and the process involved to ensure implementation of activities and plans. He encouraged participants to be proactive and raise questions during the training and urged them to exhibit ownership to make such workshops successful at district levels.

The standard terms and concepts developed by the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) were introduced in the session on “Basic concepts and terminologies using in Disaster management”. These were taught through a group activity using charts and pictures of a Disaster Risk Management (DRM) cycle. The participants were oriented on global, regional and national environments of disaster risk situations. A historical timeline of past disasters and its impacts on local, regional and global levels were briefly explained. Examples of The Greatest Eastern Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan, 2011, were cited and discussed.

A detailed session on contingency planning was conducted. The participants were briefed on the importance and uses of contingency planning and its differences to disaster risk management planning.

Towards the end of the training, a formal closing ceremony, which was chaired by Director Operations, PDMA Sindh was held at which all participants were awarded certificates. The DO appreciated the efforts made by Community World Service Asia towards disseminating knowledge and skills amongst government officials of PDMA’s, NDMA, academia and district administration of Sujawal and urged the participants to take lead in disaster management activities at local levels through close coordination among each other and the communities.

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

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

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

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

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

voiced Kainat excitedly

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

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

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

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

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