Church World Service-Pakistan/Afghanistan (CWS-P/A) in collaboration with Sphere Office Geneva for the first time conducted a Sphere Focal Point Forum from 15-16 September 2011 in Bangkok, Thailand.
CWS-P/A has signed a Memorandum of Understanding for partnership with the Sphere Project to promote and assist in implementation of Sphere initiatives in Asia. The forum was used to introduce the expected roles and responsibilities of CWS-P/A. Inputs were sought as to how CWS-P/A could add value to the agencies who are new to Sphere and who are already actively promoting Sphere in their respective countries.
One of the tasks in the MoU is to revive Sphere Focal Points system in Asia and assist in establishing Sphere Focal Points in countries where there are none. In view of that, the goal of the forum was to build and strengthen the Sphere Focal Point network in the region. Existing Sphere Focal Points and organizations that may potentially commit to be a Sphere focal organization in the future also participated in this forum. Participants highlighted the challenges of the Sphere Focal Point system and provided valuable input to Sphere Office Geneva to revise the existing ToR of the Sphere Focal Point mechanism.
The forum served as a platform for agencies to share their challenges and achievements in Sphere implementation while looking at possible bi-lateral and regional collaborations. The following organizations participated in this forum: Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies (Sri Lanka), Disaster Forum (Bangladesh), Indonesian Society for Disaster Management (Indonesia), Korea NGO Council for Overseas Cooperation (South Korea), Lutheran World Relief (Philippines and USA), Nepal Christian Relief Services (Nepal), Network for Information, Response and Preparedness Activities on Disaster (Bangladesh), Norwegian Church Aid (Laos), Sphere India (India), Church World Service – Pakistan/Afghanistan(Pakistan and Sphere regional partner),and Sphere Secretariat (Geneva).
Common collaborations at country and regional levels were identified as a way forward. CWS-P/A will initiate on-going information sharing among the participating agencies. More agencies are expected to join this network in the coming months.