Yearly Archives: 2017

The Training of Trainers (ToT) on the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) was conducted in Bangkok, Thailand, from the 28th of November to 1st of December, 2016 by Community World Service Asia.

A total of 24 trainers including 17 men and 8 women from 11 countries and 15 different organizations actively participated in the training.

 The ToT was lead by Trainer Uma Narayanan (independent consultant), and co-facilitated by Rizwan Iqbal representing Community World Service Asia. Guest speakers, Jeremy Wellard, Regional Representative Asia, International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA), and Anoop Sukumaran, Regional Representative of Act Alliance both introduced the role and focus areas of their respective networks to the participants during the opening session of the four day ToT.

“Civil society space in Asia is greatly reduced these days. And so again we need to come back to these same opinions of being able to absolutely justify the work that we do, to ensure that we can communicate about it in the right terms, to ensure that the level of work that we do is understood to be in the best interests of the people, for the people, and with people at the centre. And that is the core of the CHS, the core of the way people talk about their work these days, 

stated Jeremy while also highlighting  the adherence to CHS as key to achieving getting closer to “people at the centre”,in a global process such as the UN’s World Humanitarian Summit.

In his keynote speech at the opening session, Anoop Sukumaran, Regional Representative, Asia and the Pacific, ACT Alliance, rightly questioned,

“Why are we talking about accountability? Why are we talking about setting standards? Why is it important to ACT? It comes down to the basic aspect of what gives us credibility, what gives us legitimacy to say we are providing humanitarian response and what is the basis on which we are doing that. And the question basically is, Accountability to whom? It’s not just the accountability of the money you get but most importantly the people you serve, and you are not serving them from the outside, you have to be part and parcel of understanding that the services that you provide that you are with the community. It is not an act of charity you are doing; it is the right of people to have support and help. And that is one of the elements of you being accountable to the people you serve.”

On the first day of the training, definitions of humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, independence and neutrality, their importance, and how they can be applied, with the help of dilemmas faced in the application of the principles were explicated. Participants identified best practice strategies for applying the principles, along with key element of relevant and appropriate response based on real needs. Each day was opened with a session planned and led by pairs of participants, where they reviewed and reflected on the previous day’s learning, by involving all participants in exciting Q&A sessions or exercises.

Followed by the participant led review on the second day, a “Workshop within a workshop” approach was taken by the facilitators to discuss the stakeholders of the international relief system in greater depth and detail.

A participant led session was also conducted on Commitment 5 of the Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability, where the participants were divided up into groups of six, where topics like Complaint Response Mechanism

were explicated by Subhashi Roy from Lutheran World Relief India, Youmeng Chiv Danish Church Aid Cambodia, Uma Narayanan, and Rizwan Iqbal were held, in which the teams strategized different approaches for joint CRM. At day end, participants anonymously shared challenges and offered solutions on coordination and collaboration among the various stakeholders involved in humanitarian action.

Uma Narayanan led a session on different learning styles of trainers through the KIDA model on Day 3: a Japanese theory that provides one or a combination of tendencies in individuals, such as being activists, reflectors, theorists or pragmatists.

The focus of the third day was on building the skill of participants as trainers, rather than the technicalities of CHS. Participants learnt new methods of how to assess their learning style and motivation methods for different audiences by defining their own learning tendencies through an interactive session. Quick relay rounds were conducted by three teams of eight; they participated in a fun competition, where they listed different creative methodologies of training; such as power walk, fish bowl, storytelling, and world cafe. They also learnt about teamwork, and its importance, where participants came up with innovative ideas to get tasks done collectively in the most efficient and effective manner.

The last day focused entirely on eight different sessions of 40 minutes, planned and prepared by participants on eight selected, different CHS commitments. At the end of each four minutes session, which was guided by Uma and Rizwan, a conclusive and constructive discussion on what could have been done better, and what was executed perfectly was also shared. This was a healthy strategy to receive both positive and negative feedback on the methodology from each other, and helped in contributing diverse views by people from different backgrounds and cultures. Zainab Qaiser, representing the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), KPK in Pakistan,

shared a case study on how inappropriate service provision can lead to sexual exploitation of women. She recommended proper planning, setting of an effective security mechanism and implementation of a thought out exit strategy to ensure the execution of Commitment 3 of the CHS .

The training particularly helped in highlighting the importance of Quality and Accountability in humanitarian and development work.

All member organizations of ACT are bound to follow the ACT Quality and Accountability Framework (QAF), which underpins certain international mandatory standards, CHS being one of them. ACT member organizations, including Community World Service Asia, hold positions in the CHS board to ensure widespread compliance of this Q&A standard. It is therefore, a proud achievement to highlight that four ACT member organizations, Danish Church Aid, Lutheran World Relief, Norwegian Church Aid and Lutheran World Federation, have taken a leap in ensuring their commitment to the CHS as they participated in this four day ToT.

The ToT came to an end with a closing ceremony, where each participant was awarded a certificate of participation, along with some souvenirs. Everyone shared their key learning’s that they took from the ToT over the past few days, and also highlighted their new-found motivation to inspire and lead in their respective organizations and countries to expand the impact of and influence of CHS.

In just a short time, social media has become a ubiquitous mainstay in the lives of people. Popular platforms have rapidly grown to hundreds of millions of users, and the adoption of social media platforms has no end in sight. This social media “revolution” has changed the traditional monologue into a two-way dialogue with individuals, communities and other stakeholders.

Social Media for Humanitarian Aid and Development

Despite the rapid growth of social media, many organizations, especially non-profits are not equipped with enough capacity to manage a successful social media campaign. Recognizing these challenges, Community World Service Asia conducted a workshop on Social Media and Advocacy titled “Social Media Mastery for Development Organizations” which was designed to introduce participants to the multi-dimensional world of social media, its various tools and available platforms, and how to develop an effective social media strategy. The focus of the workshop was on strategy, planning, and content development and at the end, group projects were conducted which incorporated all the key features of the training.

The trainer, Saad Hamid is a digital innovation and design consultant who is currently serving as the CEO of DEMO which helps individuals, organizations and communities solve problems through design and digital interventions. Saad has extensive experience in the digital, design and innovation landscape and has worked with IDEO, UNICEF, UNHCR, UKaid, Invest2Innovate, TED, Google, WEF, Upwork, Mobilink and World Bank. Saad is also an Acumen fellow.

The “Social Media Mastery for Development Organizations” workshop aimed to familiarize participants on how best social media tools can be leveraged for outreach pf project and engagement for advocacy.  The participants were introduced to a range of websites and social media initiatives taken by individuals, small non-profits, and large charities. This session was interspersed with a comprehensive session on how to develop a social media strategy. The components covered were; basics of branding, how to build brand awareness, how to personalize outreach on social media, adding events to social causes and embracing social media to build relationships. After this, a series of best practices for using social media were discussed.

The participant base was varied, with some having a lot of experience working on social media while others had no exposure at all. It was challenging to manage expectations of such a diverse group with varying skill sets. However, mixed groups proved to be good for group exercises. Participants learned not only from the trainer but from other participants’ knowledge and experiences too.  Based on the highly positive feedback received from this training, Community World Service Asia has planned a second, advanced level Social Media and Advocacy Training in May 2017.

Project management competencies are now an integral part of many public and private sector jobs. However, good project management skills are rare and there is a growing realization and need for effective planning and management of projects. Developing the capacity to plan and design sound projects is crucial to the implementation of effective policy-driven programs.

Project design is an early phase of the project where a project’s key features, structure, criteria for success, and major deliverables are all planned out. The aim is to develop one or more designs which can be used to achieve the desired project goals. Stakeholders can then choose the best design to use for the actual execution of the project.

As part of Community World Service Asia’s response to the demands for more support on awareness raising and capacity building for aid and development workers, a four-day training on Project Design was conducted from November 8th to 11th, 2016 in Islamabad. Waqar Haider Awan was the lead trainer for these sessions. His field experience in development, capacity building and policy development sector provided him with a clear understanding of the current issues in designing successful projects for livelihood, youth development, human rights, civic participation, good governance and child/women’s rights. Moreover, Rizwan Qazi, co-facilitated the training, being a Community World Service Asia representative.

This four day course provided participants with a solid foundation on Project design. It aimed to assist organizations in designing high quality projects as per international requirements and to implement, monitor and evaluate them according to international standards as well.

Twenty three participants from range of local NGOs, CSOs, government bodies and cultural institutions took part in this training. Many of them planned to utilize the knowledge and experience gained through the training towards identifying the needs and supporting minorities in Pakistan. The tools gained during the training will be practiced in project development and proposal writing activities of the community.

Participants were very enthusiastic about the training and the topics discussed; the interactive nature of the training, the opportunities given to link theoretical concepts with their existing experience, showing examples and collecting examples from participants, group and individual works actively engaged the group in the training. The training was successful in generating interest of the participants in applying their knowledge for the community’s benefit at large. Thus, one of the most important results of the training being an increased motivation and enthusiasm for community development projects and recognizing the importance of Project Cycle Management in proposal writing activities and its implementation thereby.

Gul Hameem Khan, a participant from CHEF International appreciated Community World Service Asia’s efforts in bridging the gaps in their skill sets and catering to the ever-evolving needs of the development sector through organizing trainings on specific topics like these. Rabia Sabri, the chief guest and Membership & Partnership Coordinator of the Pakistan Humanitarian Forum (PHF), highlighted the importance of writing a good proposal for the sustainable growth of an organization. She praised the content covered during the workshop and hoped that this training would be beneficial to the organizations in widening their donor base.

Mithal, Village Organization member, sharing her story with the participants.

Women living in rural communities play a critical role in contributing to rural economies of both developed and developing countries. The International Day of Rural Women highlights, both, the contribution that women make in rural areas, and the many challenges that they face. According to FAO’s The State of Food and Agriculture 2010-11, in most parts of the developing world women participate in crop production and livestock care, provide food, water and fuel for their families, and engage in off-farm activities to increase their families’ livelihoods. Needless to say they are also responsible for caring for their children, the elderly and the sick in their families.

On October 15th 2016, Community World Service Asia celebrated International Rural Women’s Day in collaboration with the Local Support Organizations and the Village Organizations in village Dodo Esani Jhakro, Union Council Bijora, Sindh, Pakistan. The Local Support Organization and Village Organization invited Muhammad Umar, chairman of the Union Council, as the chief Guest at the celebratory event.

A theater performance focusing on sexual reproductive health and gender based violence was the opening show of the event. Through the play, the women of the village conveyed a strong message highlighting the challenges faced by women in rural societies and everyday lives.

Razia, wife of Suleman, a member of the Village Organization, shared her success story in a narrative story form on stage, at the event with the participants. She recounted how the women of her village were not aware of the high demand of their handicrafts in the urban market earlier and sold them at cost price. The vocational training center set up in their areas changed the lives of many women in the village, including her own she shared, by enhancing their skills and building linkages with the rural and urban markets. She confidently added that she now has great knowledge of product development and she is earning well through the orders she is receiving for her handcrafted goods.

Mithal, another member of the Village Organization, also shared her story about how women in their village were bound and dependent on male family members as the men in their village did not allow the intervention of women in their decisions or matters.

“The initiation of the livelihood and skills development projects implemented by Community World Service Asia has empowered many women in my village, especially myself. I confidently take part in the decision-making matters and suggestions given by me are seriously considered by the men in my family and village now. Being a woman is a terribly difficult task here, since it mainly involves dealing with men.”

Hussain Bux, president of the Ranta village organization, defined the affirmative role of women and agreed on the fact that the respect of women in societies like theirs has increased due to the awareness building and trainings on gender based violence.

The chief guest, Muhammad Umar, appreciated the positive role all the stakeholders played in organizing an event like this one. He said,

“These efforts will bring a productive and positive change in the society, focusing primarily on women. It will boost their confidence and encourage many women to step out to improve their standards of living and support their families.”

This celebratory, yet informative event was attended by a total of 54 people from five villages namely Phul Jhakro, Ranta, Wasayo Mallah, Dodo Esani Jhakro and Nooh Walro. There were many women participants from many villages as well who actively participated at the event.

Group Picture

Low productivity in agriculture is a pressing challenge in the developing world. To improve food security and increase agricultural incomes in Pakistan and neighbouring developing countries, farmers need to start adopting and using new farming techniques and tools. As part of one of our humanitarian programs, Community World Service Asia organized an exposure visit to the Sindh Agricultural University, for participating farming families of Union Council Pangrio and Khairpur Gambo of Tehsil Tando Bago, Badin district in Sindh. A total of 171 participants from 17 targeted villages along with project staff participated in this four day exposure visit in November.

Dr. Ismail Kumbhar, Director at the University and Training Coordinator and Professor of Agricultural Education Extension, saw this as a great opportunity for farmers from remote areas to be familiarized with farming innovations and modern agricultural research work. He believed that this initiative will give these farmers an opportunity to meet experts who could enhance their knowledge regarding agriculture and livestock management. Dr. Ismail also highlighted the issues faced in Sindh in the field of agriculture, such as shortage of irrigation water, irrational use of agrochemical, lack of extension services, high input rates and low prices of farm produce in Sindh, especially in District Badin. “To ensure the food security of the future generations it is vital to be self-sufficient in agriculture productivity through sustainable agriculture practices rather than waiting for tangible support from government or other institutions,” said the Professor.

He further added, “Being away from extension services and innovations, our farmers are laggard and believe in unconventional practices due to which they are becoming weaker by the day. There is a need to educate the generations and equip them with new and improved scientific farming practices.”

The farmers visited the General Laboratory and Beverage Unit of the University’s Food Technology Department where they were briefed on the importance of nutrition, use of iron for blood formation, zinc for hair falling, natural and artificial methods used in food preservation, pickle making, and natural preservations methods. The farmers found the beverage production unit very interesting as methods of improving shelf life of bakery and milk products were also explained. The visitors were also acquainted with the processes of water purification in reverse osmosis plant, mixing of sugar, adding carbon dioxide and color in a chilling unit.

Seeds samples of sixty different crops were examined by the team at the Agronomy Museum. Pictorial views of traditional and mechanized agricultural practices, models of agricultural implements and village aping were displayed at the museum.

Dr. Imtiaz Nizamani, Assistant Professor at the University, introduced the visiting participants to the students working in the Integrated Pest Management laboratory and explained how to make culture media for rearing purpose and artificial rearing of biological control agents. The participants had an opportunity to see egg parasites, trichogramma and green lacewing insects, and their use in biological pest management and how to control their infestation.

The various diseases that attack farm animals and the preventive measures taken to protect them were explained to the farmers at the department of Poultry Management, Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Sciences. Participants expressed a keen interest and inquired about the different common diseases and their remedies and techniques to improve lactation of their animals. They were introduced to the role of insects in integrated pest management and pollination at the Insect Museum. Various life stages of insects and pests and the dangers of chemical pesticides was also shared with them during their visit.

The information rick visit expanded the knowledge of the farmers in Badin on areas of livestock management and dairy technologies. The participants were given valuable advice on progressive farming, housing of farming animals, feeding and cleanliness of sheds which they will use and implement in their daily work and will pass on to many future generations.

Saadiqua, representing the apparel brand Taali, in a group photo with rural women artisans after coordination meeting.

People often do not mind paying more for handcrafted products as each product is unique and a piece of art skillfully manufactured by individuals. Every product has an individuality and a story behind its making. However, these stories are often unheard and untold as there is a huge gap between the producers of these handicrafts and the consumers who truly appreciate and value these products. To bridge this existing gap, it is vital to build rural and urban linkages so that both communities could benefit from the heritage that still lives in the midst of a culturally rich province that is Sindh.

To achieve this, seven meetings were conducted with various well known Pakistani fashion designers to link them with 670 rural artisans belonging to districts Umerkot & Thatta of Sindh. The Textile Institute of Pakistan (TIP) and the Indus Valley School of Art & Architecture (IVS) facilitated these meetings from the designers’ end. The designers included Rizwan Baig, Saadique from Taali, Sana Khan Niazi from Paimona, Warda Saleem, Shahroz from Vibgyor Fashions, Masood from Afroze Collections and Samiya from SWANK- all prominent names in the national fashion industry.

These meetings were conducted at TIP city office, IVS campus and Country Inn hotel in Karachi city. The designers appreciated the high skill levels of these experienced artisans and were truly impressed with the quality of work they displayed. Rizwan Baig, Wardha Saleem, and Shahroz gave an open invitation to the artisans to visit their workshops to explore bulk production and learn new ways of finishing products.

Other designers, Saadiqua, Masood, and Samiya expressed their interest in purchasing some of the finished products from the artisans’ brand Taanka and planned to market it within their existing customer networks. The designers joined Taanka’s facebook page and hoped to visit the KIOSKs set up in the urban malls for the launch of their product volumes in 2017. On the other hand, Rizwan Baig, Wardha Saleem, Sana Khan and Shahroz showed their enthusiasm towards working with the artisans by giving them their own design samples for prototype production.Rizwan Baig also offered two day workshops in both Umerkot and Thatta before the artisans could start working on their designs. Similarly, Wardha Saleem & Shahroz committed to providing raw materials such as fabric and anchor for the production of their handcrafted samples.

The framework and format of the project was much commended by the visiting designers as it ensured the most important factors of product production such as quality assurance, timely provision of products and effective use of raw material. This is all ensured through the Quality Assurance Supervisors and Sales & Marketing Agents assigned at village levels whose capacity is constantly built throughout the project. The designers also acknowledged the confidence and improved communication skills of the rural artisans who could now converse confidently in Urdu with them.

All these meetings are clubbed in the buyer index developed under project and more meetings will be set up by relevant project staff as a follow-up of agreed plans with them. The artisans are expected to deliver as per the demand of the designers and will successfully build and sustain effective and smooth working relationships with these key players of the national fashion market.

Community World Service Asia organized a Crafts Festival to promote the handicrafts produced by rural women artisans of Sindh and to introduce Taanka, a brand launched to retail handcrafted products of women artisans from Sindh to national and international urban buyers.  The festival was celebrated on November 26-17, 2016 at Dolmen Mall, Clifton in Karachi. It was attended by a large number of people who appreciated and praised the exquisite range of products made by the artisans of Thatta and Umerkot.