Yearly Archives: 2020

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Zohra, a student of class four, is an intelligent girl who studies well and has been a class monitor from the day she joined school due to her remarkable academic and extra-curricular performance. A few months ago, Zohra’s teachers observed that she had started being irregular in school and when one teacher, Naureen, asked her why, she started crying but did not say why and left school abruptly that day.

Zohra often spoke about becoming a doctor after completing her education. She had such great dreams for herself. I was worried about her and wondered how and why such a good student would lose interest suddenly,

shared Naureen.

Zohra stopped coming to school one day. After waiting for a week, I called Zohra’s mother but she did not agree upon meeting me or any of the school faculty. I waited one more week and called again and this time I insisted for her to meet me.

Her teachers shared Zohra’s excellent performance results with her mother and asked her the reason behind her leaving school suddenly. Zohra’s mother was very happy to hear of her daughter’s performance in school and of her being assigned the class monitor. She heard this information for the first time. Since most parents in rural areas have little interest in the education of their daughters, she had never bothered asking about how her children performed at school. But to know this now, she felt very proud.

After repeatedly being questioned by the teachers, Zohra’s mother replied,

We have six children and all of them have dropped out of school. My husband has been diagnosed with cancer and is unable to work anymore. His was our only source of income. We can barely afford food to eat for the family, therefore paying for our children’s school fees has become unthinkable. Moreover, we feel that educating girls is not that important anyway because they will be at home washing dishes and cooking food eventually. In this difficult situation of ours, my daughters will stay home and will manage household chores while my sons will find work on daily wages.

Listening to Zohra’s mother, her teachers expressed sympathy but still tried to encourage her to send her daughters to school.

Many families here are living in challenging conditions but we have to deal with these issues and cannot let them impact our children’s future.  It is difficult to totally eradicate our issues but we can still educate our children so that they have a better future.

It was difficult to convince Zohra’s mothers who was burdened with the family’s responsibility and was facing many challenges at home but she agreed at last.

Fine, the girls can continue their education but who will bear the educational expenses. We have no money to anymore.

The teachers assured Zohra’s mother that the school will take care of the monetary expenses of their daughter’s education.

A day later, the teachers spotted Zohra and her sister present at the morning assembly in school. They were overjoyed to see them and to realize that their efforts in convincing their mother had worked.

A School Management Committee (SMC), has been established in Zohra’s school under the Education project [1]implemented in the district. These SMCs are set up to increase the participation of communities in the functionality of their local schools and improve education quality and strengthen accountability to the principles of positive learning environments and inclusive education.

Along with mobilizing public awareness on the importance of education for children and girls, the SMCs also work towards enhancing parents community participation in the school and provides mechanisms for more effective management. The committee also monitors the teachers’ attendance, school enrolment trends and builds awareness amongst parents on the long-term benefits of education for their children. Teachers are also part of these SMCs. Zohra’s teachers,  including Naureen, are members of her school’s SMC. As part of the SMC, they have also been trained on ‘Positive learning Environment’ which focused on teaching members the significance and ways of ensuring inclusiveness, promoting gender equality and providing access to quality education to all children. Naureen has played an important role in bringing Zohra back to school to ensure that she is provided consistent access to quality education.


[1] Early Childhood Care and Education Project-July 2018-June 2020 in Collobration with Act for Peace and Ausaid and support of Presbyterian World Service & Development (PWS&D)

We were taught to carefully choose our mode of communication to effectively influence communities in a positive way and bring real change.

Reehana, Easy Approach Community Organization (EACO), Pakistan

Reehana participated in a training titled “Essentials of Social Mobilization” held in Lahore under Community World Service Asia’s Capacity Enhancement Program for local humanitarian and development practitioners in Pakistan. The training took place in August 2019 and was participated by twenty-eight staff members representing eleven civil society organizations from across Pakistan. Participants strengthened their knowledge and skills on concepts of mobilization and influencing, conflict resolution and policy development in the four-day workshop.

Employed with Easy Approach Community Organization (EACO) as a Program Manager for ten years, Reehana is actively engaged in community mobilization and management of Community-Based Organizations[1] (CBOs). She is responsible to ensure smooth implementation of projects through providing guidance and support to field staff and monitoring and reporting on the project. With over 15 years of experience in the development sector, Reehana has worked with various local and national level organizations in different capacities and found this training to be one of the most enriching personal development experiences in her career.

When I saw the contents of the ‘Essentials of Social Mobilization’ training I could not wait to attend it. The content was related to the work we are doing in EACO, therefore, I believed that the learning would be fruitful in terms of strengthening influence and bringing change in the communities we are working in,

 shared.

I have taken part in numerous trainings focused on Microfinance, Leadership Skills, Human Resource Management and Social Mobilization. But I was lucky to get a chance of attending this training workshop as the holistic approach incorporated by the CEP[2] team has been very interactive and high-yielding for me.

The two facilitators leading the training, Moazzam Ali and Nergis Ameer Khan, engaged us in developing content of the training resulting in the content being relevant to our work and nature of field activities. We also gave input in designing the pre and post training assessments to make the learning more effective and useful. The most interesting aspect of the training was identifying a need for a social mobilization policy and actually starting drafting one during the training.  EACO did not have a separate policy on social mobilization. Currently, EACO is working on the first draft of the policy and aims to take support of Community World Service Asia for review and recommendations for improvements.

After enhancing my own skills and building my own knowledge at the training, I organized a training for the fifteen field staff members of EACO. The learnings of my training with CWSA, were shared with all the participants and the team assured to implement the new techniques of mobilization in their field of work. The training provided insights on conflict resolution. Consequently, the field team arranged a community level meeting to resolve the conflict between two communities in Mohala Sadiqi Haidri Farooqabad in Sheikhupura district. There was no draining system for waste water. People in the communities were facing health issues due to the standing dirty water in the area. The conflict arose as the communities blamed each other for not constructing a proper drainage system. In the meeting, community members were mobilized to gather measurements for the pipelines to install the drainage system. The costs of installing the system were divided among the two communities and two members from each community were selected to collect the funds. The communities mutually agreed to invest jointly to build a better drainage system for both the parties to benefit from. The project of draining system was completed under EACO technical and partial financial support,

expressed Reehana.

The training allowed a systematic learning of social mobilization which consequently improved our quality of work. The communities we work in trust us more and are comfortable with our interventions. I will be happy to recommend such trainings to my colleagues and CBOs[3]as they are relevant to our work and are very useful in the humanitarian sector. These learning opportunities provide a platform to network and increase our capacities at the same time,

 concluded Reehana emphatically.


[1] Community based organizations (CBO’s) are nonprofit groups that work at a local level to improve life for residents.

[2] Capacity Enhancement Program

[3] Community Based Organizations

Pakistan has recently experienced a fierce desert locust attack. On February 1st, the Government of Pakistan declared the attack as a national emergency due to the presence of the prolonged locust swarms and the damages that they have caused to the agricultural crops and local rural communities in parts of Sindh and Balochistan. The locusts enter Pakistan from two sides; on the western front, the locust swarms enter Pakistan through Balochistan from Iran, while from the east, they attack through Indian Rajhastan in Cholistan and Tharparkar deserts.

Last year in March, the locust swarms entered Balochistan and further spread into the Sindh and Punjab provinces by June 2019. After summer breeding in Thar, Nara and Cholistan deserts of Sindh and Punjab, the locusts migrated to Indian Rajhastan deserts in July and re-entered Tarparkar in Sindh in October 2019.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (UN-FAO) anticipated that the locust infestation in Pakistan will persist throughout October and then will move into south eastern Iran and Sudan by mid November. However, the outbreak has continued due to moisture in the atmosphere, sandy soil and vegetation and favourable weather conditions ( caused by climate change) for the locusts to breed. This is not the first time for such an attack. Locust swarms have caused huge damages to Pakistan’s agriculture back in the 1950s, 1960s and 1990s as well. According to FAO’s senior locust forecasting officer, “locusts increase 20-fold every generation, which equates to roughly 8,000 times the number of locusts compared to the beginning. In search of food, locusts travel in swarms (of between 30 to 50 million) and can cover a distance of 150 kilometers to devour 200 tonnes of food in a day.”

After three years of arid conditions, the region saw pouring rains this season, recharging the wells and pushing up tall grass. The villagers sowed their crops and were looking forward to a bountiful harvest when the locusts struck.

The General Secretary of Sindh Chamber of Agriculture has announced that the locust attack this year has destroyed 40% of crops which include wheat, cotton, maize and tomato. The local communities feel that the locust attack has destroyed their standing crops. The area had received some rains in monsoon season, and though the rains were inadequate for the revival of all agricultural activities, it had still produced some pasture/grazing areas for livestock. These pastures have also been entirely damaged by the locust and has resulted in extreme food insecurity among local communities and their livestock.

The Government has taken action against this insect infestation over 0.3 million acres (121,400 hectares)  and aerial spraying over 20,000 hectares of land has already been done. “District administrations, voluntary organizations, aviation division and armed forces are all positioned into operation to combat the attack and save the crops,” shared by the Minister for National Food Security. In order to mitigate the effects of the locust attacks in future, Integrated crops and pest management (ICM/IPM) trainings are proposed to make the communities aware on pest management and on which crops to be cultivated and are less prone to such attacks.

Source
www.dawn.com
www.gulfnews.com
httts://expresstribune.com.pk

Contacts:

Shama Mall
Deputy Regional Director
Programs & Organizational Development
Emal: hi2shama@cyber.net.pk
Tele: 92-21-34390541-4 

Palwashay Arbab
Head of Communications
Email: palwashay.arbab@communityworldservice.asia
Tele: +92 42 3586 5338

Seventy-three-year old Kasi, from village Ranahar of Umerkot district, takes care and provides for her bed-ridden son and his family. She works for agricultural produce on their local fields.

While sharing her challenges and talking about her sufferings of recent years, Kasi could not help but reminisce about their better days,

Just a few years ago we were leading a very happy life. My son earned PKR. 15,000 per month as a tractor driver. His monthly income was sufficient to meet our family’s needs. However, those days were short-lived as our happiness turned to sorrow when my husband started experiencing frequent chest pains and fever and had to leave his job. Soon after, just four years from today, he was diagnosed with asthma and severe lung illness which could lead to chest cancer within years if not treated properly. With his job gone and barely any income, we could not afford his medication which further aggravated his illness.

Kasi added,

Our worries further heightened when our agricultural fields completely dried up. The drought had struck our lands.  I was not even able to collect a single grain from our field in the last two years.  Only my God knows my struggle and how I was trying to feed my family since the last two years. Not even our neighbours or relatives were able to help us.

On March 2019 Kasi and her family were selected as participants of a drought response project implemented by Community World Service Asia and supported by Presbyterian World Service & Development and Canadian Foodgrains Bank. Through the project, Kasi’s family, along with ninety more severely drought-affected families in Ranahar village of Umerkot received six rounds of food packages.

Before receiving this food assistance, I used to start worrying about what we would eat each day at the first light of dawn. Having even a single nutritional meal seemed to be a challenge each day. But thankfully, I do not need to worry about that anymore. The food provided to us has saved us from many sufferings. The quality and quantity of food provided is much appreciated by all of us.

Kasi is happy that her family and other families affected by drought in the area will be assisted with food supplies for the next six months. This support will be sufficient to feed the families until their own agricultural produce can be harvested in September.

The United Nations World Health Organization (UNWHO) standards state that a country should have at least a twenty-five percent forest cover to help conserve ecosystems that provide for all living things and also works as a barrier against disasters[1]. Forests play an important role in helping species, people and countries adapt to climate change. Sindh lags behind in reaching this standard.

According to the latest Sindh Forest Department data, the forest cover in Sindh has reduced to an alarming level of less than two percent, forcing an estimated one million people in the province to migrate to other areas in the last 30 years.

To mitigate climate change impacts and help reduce deforestation rates in Sindh, Community World Service Asia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) of Japan, and partners, have initiated a Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) project in Umerkot district of the province. As one of the project’s interventions, 334 women from eight villages were trained on effectively using a new technology of fuel-efficient stoves in their homes. The fuel-efficient stove is an energy system that has a positive impact on the ecosystem while providing basic cooking needs. The stoves are made of mud and straw. It enables cooking simultaneously on two burners and the flame can be controlled as per temperature required. As a result, it allows for less emission of smoke and less consumption of fuelwood. Thirteen of these training were conducted by women community mobilizers that oriented rural women on the use of the stoves and made them aware of its environment-friendly nature.

The trainings enabled the women in the communities to help reduce health risks associated with smoke emissions that women and children often experience while cooking on traditional stoves made of firewood. Consequently, it has reduced incidents of household fire that were caused due to uncontrollable firewood flames.

Cleaner environments and being provided cheaper cooking sources has been seen as a direct impact of these training and the increased use of fuel-efficient stoves.  The adoption of these stoves has significantly increased in the area since the training. Other women in the communities have also requested for training and construction of these stoves.

The utensils turned black when we cooked on traditional stoves using firewood. The fuel stove is a remarkable tool which not only saves time and fuel, but it endows relief in cleaning utensils. Many women in the community are requesting me to construct the fuel-efficient stove in their households. We are grateful to be introduced to these remarkable stoves,

shared Saleemat from Mandhal Thakar Village in Umerkot.


[1] https://www.dawn.com/news/1402307

Over the past two years, I’ve been growing, nurturing and facilitating women and leadership program in Pakistan and the region. It is without a doubt an extraordinary journey in every imaginable way. As a matter of fact, at the conclusion of each session, I feel that I have taken more than I have contributed…

To start, I have the opportunity to work with an incredible team who is really the life-breath of the program. I can attest to the fact that without the collaborative effort of many, the program is simply an idea without a soul. Bringing the program to life is not just about organizing, logistics, presenting certain topics and hoping that it resonates with women. It’s about understanding global trends, researching, reading, discussion with subject matter experts and more importantly ensuring that the content aligns with organizational values, beliefs, and culture. One can say that the program is organic and as dynamic as the women it serves. Moreover, this program, like its philosophy, is nothing short of a team effort between people with a common vision.

One of the most profound moments as a facilitator is to observe the evolution of each and every participant at the end of the program and beyond, which is nothing short of incredible. I am absolutely certain the moment each participant steps back into reality they will be agents of change not only in their own lives but those around them. Even if one feels that they have not gained something significant, it will be challenging to return to one’s daily responsibilities and accept the status quo. There is something to be said about sharing, listening and being present amongst others who face similar societal challenges.

A profound question, which many have asked me time and time again… How do I create the “chemistry” amongst total strangers in such a short period of time? The answer is simple: it’s about love for humanity, the belief in the capacity/capability of others and the importance of working together as women. I know that all my participants will have something to say about the program, take the knowledge they have learned and pay it forward, reflect, toil, write and read moving forward – all this regardless of socioeconomic status, employment, country, culture… In addition, participants know that I will always be there for them should they require advice, support or information regardless of where we are in the world. As such, the women and leadership program truly begins beyond the classroom.

It’s taken me over two years to coin what this program is about and how much it means to me. In short, the program has proven to have a profound impact on anyone who truly wants to embrace change and make a difference in their own special way.”

Connie Cheung brings a different kind of energy and approach to workshops in an effort to bring out the authentic leader in everyone. Connie’s career is grounded in emergency management. Through the years she has complemented her career by actively coaching, mentoring, and addressing issues related to workplace wellness, which include mental health and well-being. Her aspiration is to encourage people to embrace change and reinvent themselves. Connie facilitated two trainings, one regional and one national, on ‘Advancing Women Leadership’ in 2019, under Community World Service Asia’s newly-launched Women Leadership Program. Thirty-two humanitarian practitioners from nine countries attended the two five-day trainings that encouraged women to use existing gifts, skills, and talents to create change around them regardless of socioeconomic status or position in society.

Community World Service Asia’s Women and Leadership program has been developed to address the worrying degree of gender inequality in Pakistan.

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National level organizations are considered agents of change as they amplify community voices through awareness raising and networking. Consequently, they play an instrumental role in education and changing public opinion and often collaborate on initiatives to ensure that social development concerns of communities at local, provincial and national level are addressed.

To achieve effective sustainable change, NGOs must have the ability to plan and facilitate efficient communication processes that mobilize efforts at both the organizational and programmatic levels. Consciousness, relationship building and networking is key to enabling positive policy change in favor of marginalized communities.

Community World Service Asia conducted a five-day training on “Influencing for positive change” in Murree. Twenty-one humanitarian and development practitioners from local organizations across Pakistan, participated in the five-day residential training in December 2019. The lead trainer of the training, Aftab Ahmed Awan, is a development professional and Human Rights and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights expert with 15 years of experience in the field of development and Human Rights Programs Management, working with government, national and international developmental organizations. Currently he is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Society for Sustainable Development (SSD) in Islamabad.

The agenda of the training enabled participants to understand tools and approaches for influencing and making decisions towards sustainable change. The sessions enhanced knowledge on developing strategic approaches for the policy engagement. Participants were equipped with strategic communication plans to design campaigns for social change through policy reforms on local and national level. The training sessions applied a participatory approach, that included role plays, group exercises and discussions and kept participants engaged throughout the workshop.

The session on ‘Understanding and Contextualizing Influencing’ helped participants identify relevant stakeholders, set goals and define strategies to achieve their objectives. Influencing messages were the key highlight that tailored to specific target audiences in order to frame the issue and persuade others to support the network’s position. In group assignments, participants developed key messages for their relevant target audiences. The participants were asked to keep two key elements in mind while developing the messages, namely language and content. The content refers to the central idea of the message while language consists of the words, we choose for communicating our message.

Stakeholder’s analysis is important to build a consensus to support a network’s Influencing issue. The larger the support base, the greater are the chances of success. Group activities aided in strengthening networks to build alliances. These alliances aim to work together to achieve common goals.

Participants’ Voices:

 “The training on Influencing Positive Change was a great learning experience. Aftab, our lead trainer, an energetic and motivational person kept us engaged throughout the sessions. The participatory approach allowed us to engage, interact and learn from each other’s’ experiences.” Sardar Shahzeb Hanif, Read Foundation

“The resource person, Aftab, had a good grip on the sessions he conducted. The training was very engaging and interactive. The sessions on development of effective messages, risk analysis and mitigation strategies provided knowledge and ways to involve communities in the humanitarian actions.”  Ambreen Kanwal, Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO)

“The training was really thoughtful, and according to the needs and expectations as mentioned in the baseline and Training Needs Assessment. The activities during the training has advanced my knowledge on stakeholder analysis, behavior change communications, political analysis and monitoring and evaluation in the process of influencing for positive change.  The contents delivered during the sessions were well planned and informative.”  Dr. Muhammad Shafi, Brook Pakistan

The sessions provided ample information on policy analysis, developing effective communications skills and designing influential key messages to deliver during campaigns. The diverse group present at the training allowed experience sharing and productive networking.”  Zafar Malik. Aaghaz Foundation

“I am grateful to get this opportunity to learn and enhance my experience. The training materials were easy to understand and accessible. I am more confident now to plan a campaign for influencing and delivering positive messages for change. The sessions on power analysis, risk assessment and communication strategies have enabled me to plan campaigns on interesting topics and convey the right message. The action plans developed on the last day will help us utilize our learning and implement the tools we have learnt for effective campaigns.”  Zunaira Cheema, Youth Development Center, Punjab House

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Hereby we proudly announce Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary, Canada as our second official partner for the ”1st International Conference of Social Work” to be held from 03-05 March 2020.

ICSW – 2020 is now collaborated between Department of Social Work, University of Peshawar; Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary, Canada; and Community World Service Asia.

We believe this joint collaboration and among the three partners is just the first step in producing indigenous academic in the field of Social Work and would act as a game-changer in recognizing the Social Work Profession in Pakistan.