Yearly Archives: 2020

Shop and markets have been closed since the lockdown in Umerkot.

By the third week of March, most offices, market places, malls and schools all across Pakistan were closed down as a precautionary measure in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic that had hit the country.

It was a good decision to close everything,

says Bharat Kumar,

I feel more secure and protected while working from home, however, it is not easy. The strict lockdown in the city has left streets deserted and the markets empty. No one is to be seen in the streets. It is not a comforting sight.

The district administration and security departments are making all efforts to ensure social distancing is implemented through announcing lockdown and placing barriers at different points on the roads. It is disappointing to see how some people are still not taking this situation seriously. They are going out without wearing masks or gloves. The police however is playing an important role in sensitizing the people whenever they see them not wearing protective gear.

Social media is also full of information spreading awareness and precautionary measures against Corona virus. So, there is sufficient information for people to understand the risks and the right preventive measures. However, it is difficult to see children not playing outside or families not meeting their relatives or friends. We hope that this situation settles down soon and people can move around freely like they used to.

People working in the labor force, earning daily wages for their families have been the most affected in this situation of lockdown. They are unable to find work which does not allow them to earn money. It is especially difficult for them to make ends meet.

As a humanitarian worker, I have never felt more helpless. This feeling of being unable to help those in need in these gravest of times is strange and frightening. To make myself feel more useful and to help people in the slightest of ways, I joined the Corona Relief Committee, which I was nominated to as well. This small committee is a community-based group that is to serve my community.

The Corona Relief Committee, created by the Deputy Commissioner of Umerkot, is facilitating government bodies with the corona emergency response in selection of isolation and quarantine centers in District Umerkot. They are also supporting with providing pre-relief assistance to marginalized communities through mobilization sessions and distribution of relief packages.

We are trying to stay at home as it is the safest option. But at this point I am ready and waiting to help everyone who is affected by this crisis I feel proud that I am prepared to perform any task appointed to me by my organization to help those who have been affected by this difficult situation.

Dear Partners and Friends,

Community World Service Asia (CWSA) is organizing a webinar, titled: Q&A Standards in COVID19 Response in Pakistan on April 22nd to provide an opportunity to humanitarian professionals in the country to be familiarized and sensitised on the use and application of Quality and Accountability approaches while responding to emergencies like COVID-19.

Basic Information:

When: April 22nd, 2020

What time: 11AM to 12PM PST (60 minutes)

Language: Urdu

Where: Online link to the webinar will be shared with registered participants via email

Who is it for: Humanitarian and development practitioners working in or with hard-to-reach areas, NGOs, and INGOs involved in COVID19 response in Pakistan

Event description:

We are all affected by the global Covid-19 pandemic, in different ways. The need is to shift the approach and become part of the response to it. This requires more commitment towards Accountability to Affected People.

Organization working in Pakistan are facing multiple difficulties like access to communities, staff safety and providing efficient and timely response.

Community World Service Asia (CWSA) is a humanitarian and development organization, registered in Pakistan, head-quartered in Karachi and implementing initiatives throughout Asia. CWSA is member of the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) Alliance and a Sphere regional partner.

Sphere and the CHS Alliance recently released guidelines on how the Sphere Handbook and the CHS can help guide humanitarian practitioners in responding to the COVID-19 outbreak. CWSA has translated these guides into Urdu and  have made them available on their website.

CWSA is hosting a webinar to share information and guidelines on using and applying Quality and Accountability Standards while responding to the COVID 19 crisis in the country.

The webinar will help explore;

  • The different Q&A tools available to help guide your response;
  • Ways to develop key messages on raising awareness on COVID-19 among the most vulnerable populations

This hour-long webinar will also highlight key CHS commitments that are relevant to a crisis response of this nature. It will also introduce and explain the Sphere and Coronavirus guidelines, outlining the fundamental principles and the relevant standards from the Sphere Handbook’s WASH & Health sections that are crucial to a successful and holistic intervention.

Register here if you wish to participate: Registration – Q&A Standards in COVID19 Response

Presenters

Kausar Bibi has many years of experience in the development and humanitarian sector specifically on developing, managing and implementing both development and emergency response projects. Kausar has hands-on experience in conducting, organizing, coordinating and designing capacity enhancement support on different thematic areas. She also has expertise in Child Safeguarding, Gender, Education and Quality & Accountability in humanitarian response.

Asif Aqeel is an experienced researcher and writer and is often considered the voice of the aid and development sector in the mass media. His specific area of expertise is “Marginality & Exclusion” with a focus on marginalized communities and groups. Asif holds an MSc in Sociology and MA in Public Policy and Governance and has long been active in raising a voice for and supporting the rights of the underprivileged segments of our society.

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to sudden changes in the world. Restrictions at various levels has affected the humanitarian sector to operate for an undefined period. As in any humanitarian response, there is a need to continuously uphold accountability to the affected populations. The Sphere Secretariat and the CHS Alliance recently released guidelines on how the Sphere Handbook and the CHS can help guide humanitarian practitioners in responding to the COVID-19 outbreak. Community World Service Asia (CWSA) organized a webinar on 9th April 2020 to introduce these tools and its use, particularly in the context of Asia.

The webinar was mainly participated by CWSA’s regular partners in Pakistan and in the region. Almost hundred staff from NGOs, INGOs and local organizations from Asia, Europe, Middle East, America and Australia attended the webinar who had a background in programme, support functions as well as senior management roles.

The session, led by Uma Narayanan, highlighted key CHS commitments that are relevant to a crisis response of this nature. It introduced and explained the Sphere and Coronavirus guidelines, outlining the fundamental principles and the relevant standards from the Sphere Handbook’s WASH and Health sections that are critical to a successful and holistic intervention.  In addition, the standard on mental health care was also emphasized.

Participants shared the need of such sessions as the implementation of precautionary measures is weak in the region and organizations need to sensitize communities following the Sphere Standards and Guidelines for effective response.  Other participants raised concerns in relation to engagements tools, psychological support, gender inclusion in the situation, remote monitoring and evaluation, safety and security of field staff and effective planning to be adopted in the current situation.

The virtual session also focused on familiarizing participants on the aspects of advocacy, contextualization and coordination. The webinar stressed on the needs of effective advocacy, contextualization of information and support required in the situation of COVID-19. To overcome challenging situations during the pandemic, participants were encouraged to increase coordination and collaborations with humanitarian and development organizations and networks in their respective countries and in the Asia region. This includes activating existing Accountability Learning Working Groups to focus on contextualization of CHS Standards and Sphere Standards to suit their respective country needs.

It is observed that there are a number of groups and individuals who have not been provided any help as yet. Organizations who do not have proper guidelines for response are unable to provide efficient and effective help and for this reason, sessions like these will be helpful to equip humanitarian organizations to respond effectively and fulfilling the needs,

said Syed Moazzam Ali, consultant on humanitarian action. Him, along with others, further echoed the economic challenges that the pandemic has resulted in the region.  Businesses are shutting down and people at large are suffering due to the scarce resources, which is a contributing factor to the need for psychosocial support.

Participants also highlighted the need to ensure inclusion of all members of society, especially senior citizens when planning psychological support projects or activities.  During discussions in the webinar, there was agreement on the community engagement approach for emergency response projects for the crisis and the need for compliance of all organizations on safety of field staff and provision of protective gear.  Effective use of technology as a key factor in reaching out to communities in remote areas was also emphasized.

Shama Mall, from CWSA, shared a dedicated page  developed for information sharing that provides links and resources developed by the various, global, health, development and humanitarian actors on COVID-19 on CWSA’s official website.

Having promoted Quality and Accountability (Q&A) during emergency response to the Pakistan Earthquake, TDPs[1] in Pakistan, South East Asia Tsunami, Nepal Earthquake, Typhoon Haiyan, Community World Service Asia is looking at ways to continue its own learning journey during this challenging time and promoting Q&A in the region by exploring different means to reach the target audience.


[1] Temporarily Dislocated persons

The Lady Health Worker and Community Mobilizer conducting a session on COVID-19 and sensitizing community to reduce the spread of the virus in Umerkot.

Community World Service Asia’s (CWSA) Health and Livelihood program teams initiated awareness sessions on prevention and safety from Coronaviruses 19 for the communities that they work with in the region. These sessions were planned and conducted in coordination with local government health departments, community Health Management and Village Health committees

Citing the COVID-19 pandemic around the world, the health teams are raising awareness as part of a larger effort to drive social change and prevent the further spread of the virus in the countries. The health sessions on coronavirus focused on limiting movement, avoiding small or large gatherings and maintaining hygiene and good sanitation. The teams ensured to use informational educational material translated in local languages and delivered the sessions, in local languages too. Communities were thoroughly sensitized on the signs and symptoms of the COVID – 19 and the precautionary measures to be taken individually and as communities.

Children, woman and families were particularly advised on the safest and most thorough ways of washing hands with soap and use of alcohol-based washes and sanitizers and the need to wear masks and staying home and away from all public contact and travel.

A total of thirty-two awareness sessions with staff, health workers and communities have been conducted by CWSA’s program teams so far.

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Dear Partners & Friends,

We all are facing difficult times due to the COVID 19 pandemic. The COVID 19 presents unique challenges in relation to understanding of the humanitarian organization and their capacity to respond. In the current situation, our collective commitment to accountability to affected people will be more important than ever.

Both the Sphere and Core Humanitarian Standard Alliance (CHSA) have come up with important information for strengthening principled humanitarian action for responding to the current crises. Community World Service Asia (CWSA) is organizing a Webinar: Q&A Standards in COVID19 Response on April 9 at 11 am, to provide an opportunity to humanitarian professionals to learn about using Quality and Accountability approaches while responding to emergencies like COVID-19.

The webinar will guide humanitarian practitioners on using Q&A tools in their response and will help develop key messages to raise awareness for the most vulnerable populations affected by the COVID-19.

We look forward to your Registration for this webinar. Please find attached more details on the webinar.

Click here to download Brochure

Thank you,
Best Regards,
CWSA Team

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‘Theory of Change’ (ToC) has emerged as an important planning tool for development projects in the last decade. With its application not limited to technical use, it provides users guidance to analyze and develop political and management choices. Experts recommend ToC as a tool for political literacy that supports organizations with adopting a reflexive approach towards development.

The ToC facilitates organizations with effective project implementation and with mapping its change processes and its expected outcomes. It is often used in conjunction with the log frame approach as it forecasts expected processes and outcomes that can be reviewed over the time. This allows organizations to assess their contributions to change and accordingly revisit the theory of change. It also helps staff in clarifying and developing the theory as per the needs of the organization or its projects.

Community World Service Asia organized a four-day residential training on ‘Building blocks of Theory of Change’ which was participated by twenty-one humanitarian and development practitioners from eight national organizations. The training was led by Harris Khalique, who is a leading practitioner, advisor, speaker and trainer in the area of social development and human rights. He is the Secretary General of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and a senior fellow with Revets Learning Inc. The training was co-facilitated by Zeeshan Novel, who is also a development professional and rights campaigner with specific expertise in project management, capacity building, emergency response planning, policy research and advocacy.

Held in Murree, the training adopted an interactive methodology, based on practical exercises to achieve effective learning. The initial sessions focused on the basic concepts of ToC, why organizations need it and introducing its essential components. Participants understood the concepts of Result Chain Logic, Developing Impact, Output and Impact Statements and Situation Analysis, its causes and effects.

In a group activity, participants were sensitized about cause and effect through the problem tree exercise where they were asked to identify the problem statement and its results through the result chain concept. Through this exercise, participants learnt to identify the impact of the problems and how to overcome them. The ToC as a strategic planning tool was put forward where its implementation mechanism and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems were studied in detail.

Participants’ Learning:

“The training was very informative and relevant to our needs and expectations. The basics of ToC were thoroughly covered in the training and we, as participants, were able to learn each step to create a theory of change in detail through the participatory approach adopted by the trainers. The group activities helped us get a firm grip on the ToC as per our organizational needs. The management team was cooperative and helpful throughout the four days in Murree.

The training has enabled me to develop a beneficial and convincing ToC for Read foundation which I will construct on my return.”

Zain-ul-Abideen (Deputy Manager) Read Foundation -Islamabad

“As an M&E Manager, I am leading the M&E and program development activities of the organization.  In this regard, the training was much needed to enhance my learnings.  I was confident to develop the ToC plan for our organization when we were asked to on the last day of the training.

The training involved the participants in practical activities which made learning successful in terms of knowledge building.”

Shah Fahad, M&E Manager in Center for Electronics Research & Development (CERD)

“I aim at developing a ToC for my organization when I join back. The training has provided us with relevant guidance on developing an effective ToC to make the activities of the project productive and make change a reality.

The sessions were highly interactive for which I would like to appreciate the CWSA Team. The most interesting aspect of the training were the live discussions between the groups. In conclusion, the workshop was very conductive with excellent and well-designed presentations and discussions.”

Sadia Yousafzai, Project Coordinator in Center for Electronics Research & Development (CERD)

“The practical work and exploration of new things along with developing discussions were all really useful and effective. I believe that the ToC will benefit us by exploring organizational projects and other development initiatives. The guidelines and templates shared in the workshop were efficient and helpful in our field of work.”

Erum Baloch, Country Program Coordinator in Secours Islamique France (SIF)

Sixteen years old Dhelan Kumari, is the only girl of her age in village Khunhar, who continues to attain education and attend school to seek higher education. She is currently in 11th grade.

I got engaged when I was only 15 months old. My fiancé is from a different village but is of an equal status as my own family so our parents planned to wed us when we would turn 12 years.

Dhelan’s parents have six children and she is one among their five daughters.

My husband, Jumoon, is a farmer and earns a small income of PKR 300 daily. All my daughters are married except Dhelan. She is the youngest of all. Dhelan has always been enthusiastic about going to school and bringing more meaning to her life,

said Dhelan’s mother, Lakshmi.

During one of her school activities, Dhelan got the opportunity to attend and watch a theater play organized by one of the local landlords in Kunhar.

It was a play by a local theatre group called Purbhat[1], on early child marriages. It was my first experience attending a play and I got to learn so much about the prevailing issues that were never discussed with us before. I learned the challenges a girl faces when she is married at a very early age. She is unable to complete her studies; she is unable to cope up with the new family which results in a lot of challenges for young girls and their families. Moreover, she is never happy that way.

After attending the theatre play in early 2019, Dhelan’s drive to prioritize her education grew even more and she wanted the same for all the other girls in her village.  One day, Dhelan grew the courage to talk to her brother and mother on the issue and they both supported her with this cause and helped her spread awareness on the importance of education for girls and the disadvantages of early marriages.

Dhelan’s dedication and energy motivated me to support my daughter and help her in achieving her dreams,

shared Lakshmi.

Although she faced a lot of retaliation from the village community, Dhelan was determined and committed to work for her cause. She wanted to create awareness among young girls and highlight the adverse consequences of early child marriages. She wanted to emphasize on the importance of education for girls and prove that girls are no less; they have equal rights as men and should not be suppressed.

To Dhelan’s advantage, a theater group was formed in Khunhar village and was named ‘Khunhar’. Everyone from the village was encouraged to join the group, especially young girls and boys. Dhelan showed her interest in joining the group. Ashok, the president of Khunhar’s Steering Committee came to Dhelan’s family and recommended Dhelan and Lakshmi to join the theater group to inspire other women and girls of the community.

My uncle discouraged us and tried to stop me from joining and participating in the theater plays. He said this will bring disgrace to the family and my in-laws will not approve of it as well. However, the support of my family made me strong and gave me the courage to take the step of joining the Khunhar Theater Group,

 shared Dhelan.

Dhelan was relentless. Her mother Lakshmi and she joined the Khunhar Theater Group along with eight other members from the village. This theater group is the first ever to be formed at a community level along with three others in Umerkot. As part of the group, each member is paid a stipend of PKR 1000 for every play they perform.

Dhelan’s education expense is covered by the stipend we earn through the theater group.

said Lakshmi.

Dhelan wanted to continue her studies and did not want to be wedded off soon. She was lucky to have a family that supposed her. Her mother stood by her side,

Education is very important whether it is for a girl or a boy. It teaches you the difference between right and wrong and not the difference between a man and woman. No one can take away the knowledge you gain in your lifetime and that can be your highest achievement in life. I wanted Dhelan to be an educated girl and lead a better life. Dhelan shared with her brother that she did not want to get married and continue her studies instead. I want to see Dhelan in a better position as well, rather than just being a housewife and a labor worker in the fields. We talked to her in-laws and insisted on postponing the marriage. Dhelan’s brother also encouraged her fiancé to continue with his studies so that they could build a better future for themselves together. As a result, the marriage was postponed and no date for the wedding is decided as yet. Dhelan continued her studies and is now in 11th grade,

 shared Lakshmi happily.

My college is in the city which is a twenty minute walk from home. I am also taking computer classes in the evenings. I topped the board exams of standard eight, nine and ten in Umerkot. I aim to top again in standard 11. On the weekends, I give free tuitions to young girls in the village. I want to do as much as I can for women and children, not only in the village, but in all of rural Sindh. The plays we perform are aimed at ending child marriages and encouraging girls’ education. Many people in the community have become aware of the negative consequences of early marriages. They put an end at child marriage when they witness any,

firmly concluded Dhelan.


[1]  A local theater group in Umerkot