Yearly Archives: 2024

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Thursday warned that extreme heatwave conditions would persist across parts of Sindh and Punjab in June, with temperatures likely to remain above 48 degrees Celsius.

The authority’s National Emergency Operations Centre said that Umerkot, Tharparkar, Tando Ala Yar, Matiari and Sanghar districts in Sindh are expected to be affected, while in Punjab, Rahim Yar Khan and Bahawalpur are most likely to experience heatwave conditions.

In its advisory, NDMA also said that from May 31 to June 5, dust storms, gusty winds and light rain are also likely to occur in the upper regions of the country.

Extreme Weather Conditions

On Thursday, harsh weather conditions persisted across the Sindh province, even though temperatures dropped in most cities.

The Met Office recorded the maximum temperature in Jacobabad at 50.5°C, followed by Dadu at 49°C . Except for Karachi, which barely missed the mark with a high of 39.5°C and 63 per cent humidity, all other cities in the province registered temperatures above the 40 degree-mark.

Severe heatwave conditions persist across most parts of the province with daytime maximum temperature being 6-8 degrees above normal in Dadu, Kambar Shahd­adkot, Larkana, Jacobabad, Shik­arpur, Kashmore, Ghotki, Sukkur, Khairpur, Naushahro Feroze, Shaheed Benazirabad districts and 5-7 degrees above normal in Sang­har, Hyderabad, Mitiari, Tando Allah Yar, Tando Moha­mmad Khan, Mirpur Khas, Umerkot, Tharparkar and Badin districts.

The heatwave conditions are likely to persist till June 1st.

Warning the authorities to remain alert and take necessary measures, the NDMA advisory urged citizens to stay hydrated, avoid outdoor activities between 11am and 3pm.

Many labourers from remote areas travel daily to cities for work, but the current heatwave has severely disrupted their livelihoods pattern and led to worsening health conditions. The extreme heat makes commuting difficult.

The heatwave has also impacted people staying at home, as inconsistent electricity and lack of cooling options limit their ability to cope with prolonged heat stress. The ongoing hot and dry weather is stressing water reservoirs, crops, vegetables, and orchards, while also increasing energy and water demand, which is difficult to manage during the current crisis.

Community World Service Asia’s Response:

Community World Service Asia (CWSA), in collaboration with district authorities, has established a heatstroke centre/camp at the District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital in Umerkot. The CWSA team initially launched their services by providing cold drinking water, conducting awareness sessions, and referring heatstroke patients to the DHQ. These awareness sessions are delivered directly to pedestrians, patients, and their attendants, messages to prevent heat strokes and raise awareness on precautionary measures are also broadcasted over speakers for public awareness. Every day, more than 1,000 people visit the centre to quench their thirst, as there is no fresh water facility available nearby to them. People not only come to drink water but also carry some back for family members or relatives who are hospitalised at the DHQ. So far, 20 critical patients have been referred to the emergency department after receiving initial treatment.

The CWSA health team has set up heatstroke corners at each public dispensary operated by CWSA to manage emergency cases and serve patients visiting from nearby villages seeking urgent medical services in the extreme heat. The team provides cold drinking water, first aid, ORS, and glucose sachets to visitors seeking medical care.

With additional support, CWSA also plans to establish three heatwave facilitation centres for three months in Umerkot district which will offer clean, cold drinking water, juice and shaded rest areas. Each centre will have generators, pedestal fans, stretchers, necessary furniture, basic medical equipment, and medicines. Two Lady Health Visitors (LHVs) and two medical technicians will rotate among the centres. The paramedic staff will perform emergency procedures such as checking blood pressure, administering medications, clearing airways, and initiating IVs if necessary. They will also apply cold bandages or towels to reduce body temperature. Critical patients will be referred to the nearest healthcare facility, with transportation provided.

These centres will also distribute informational, educational, and communication (IEC) materials to raise awareness about heat-related illnesses. The centres will operate throughout the peak summer months until the end of August.

Contacts:

Shama Mall
Deputy Regional Director
Programs & Organisational Development
Email: shama.mall@communityworldservice.asia
Tele: 92-21-34390541-4

Palwashay Arbab
Head of Communication
Email: palwashay.arbab@communityworldservice.asia
Tele: 92-21-34390541-4

Sources:
Relief Web
NDMA
Pakistan Metrological department
Dawn

We are pleased to announce that the Regional Humanitarian Partnership Week (RHPW) – Asia Pacific 2024 will take place from 10th to 12th  December 2024 in Bangkok, Thailand. Last year, over 280 participants from 200 organizations participated in the regional event. 

The theme of this year’s is “Sparking Global Change through Local Solutions in Humanitarian Action. The Concept note of the RHPW 2024 is here

RHPW is a joint initiative of the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA), Asian Disaster Risk Reduction Network (ADRRN), Community World Service Asia (CWSA), and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). RHPW aims to bring together humanitarian practitioners, academics, the private sector, and donors from various sectors across the Asia-Pacific region to exchange best practices, foster collaboration, and strengthen partnerships for effective humanitarian programming and service delivery to affected people.

We invite you to mark your calendars and Register for this important event. 

For organizations to share Expressions of Interest (EOI), please follow this link to submit your form.

Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has issued a heatwave alert for most parts of the country, especially for Punjab and Sindh provinces.

“It is forecasted that heatwave conditions are likely to develop over most parts of the country, especially Punjab and Sindh from May 21 and likely to advance into severe heatwave conditions from May 23 to May 27,” announced NDMA on Thursday.

The forecast delineates three separate heat wave spells. The initial spell is expected to persist for two to three days, followed by a subsequent spell lasting four to five days towards the end of May. Temperatures are anticipated to further escalate up to 45 degrees Celsius in June. The NDMA spokesperson has cautioned about the likelihood of a third heatwave spell in the initial ten days of the month, which could last for 3 to 5 days.

The NDMA underscores that heat waves will impact both human and animal populations, necessitating proactive measures before the onset of the anticipated heatwaves nationwide.

During the second heatwave, which is anticipated to persist for four to five days, the impact is expected to be felt particularly in Tharparkar, Umerkot, Sanghar, Badin, and Khairpur districts of Sindh.

Reflecting on past experiences, Pakistan encountered its worst heatwave in 2022, as highlighted in the 2022 report by Amnesty International. The report underscores the lethal repercussions of extreme heat, especially for more vulnerable communities and populations such as children, the elderly, individuals with disabilities, and those with chronic diseases.

Heatwaves exacerbate health conditions, leading to heat strokes, cramps, and aggravating pre-existing health issues such as diabetes, ultimately culminating in fatalities or accelerated deterioration of health.

Warnings have been issued by the provincial and district governments in Sindh, Punjab and KPK provinces of extreme weather in coming days and have advised people to take precautionary measures such as drinking plenty of water and avoiding direct exposure to the sun. The government is seeking assistance from humanitarian organisations in establishing heatwave camps/centres where affected people may find shelter and cold water, as well as receive basic first-aid treatment.

Community World Service Asia’s Response:

Community World Service Asia (CWSA), in partnership with district authorities, plans to establish four heatwave centres or camps in Umerkot district. These include one central site in Umerkot city and three additional camps near health facilities already supported via CWSA projects: Government dispensary Ramsar, Government Dispensary Jhamrari, and Government Dispensary Cheelband. These camps aim to offer basic services such as first aid, shelter, seating, clean drinking water, and juices to vulnerable individuals in the area, including pedestrians exposed to the sun and at risk of dehydration. With the expected rise in heatwave occurrences, CWSA will plan to expand its efforts to provide similar assistance, as well as first-aid treatment and public awareness campaigns in areas where it maintains operational presence.

Contacts:
Shama Mall
Deputy Regional Director
Programs & Organisational Development
Email: shama.mall@communityworldservice.asia
Tele: 92-21-34390541-4

Palwashay Arbab
Head of Communication
Email: palwashay.arbab@communityworldservice.asia
Tele: 92-21-34390541-4

Sources:
Relief Web
NDMA
Pakistan Metrological department
The Nation Newspaper
The Dawn Newspaper

When: 24th – 25th May, 2024
Where: O’Spring, Murree
Language: Urdu / English
Interested: Click here to apply
Last Date to Apply: May 15, 2024

Rationale:

In today’s rapidly changing humanitarian landscape, it’s crucial for organisations working at local and national levels to stay updated and aligned with international standards to effectively support people and communities affected by crises and vulnerabilities. The Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability (CHS) provides a framework for organisations to ensure their actions are guided by principles of dignity, respect, and accountability. As the CHS has recently been updated to version 2024, it is imperative for organisations to understand and adapt to these changes.

Our workshop aims to provide participants with a comprehensive understanding of the revised version of the CHS and its requirements for the organisations. By equipping participants with the knowledge and tools necessary to implement the CHS effectively, we can enhance the quality and accountability of humanitarian response efforts at the local and national level,

Aims & Objectives:

By the end of the workshop, participants will be able to:

Understand the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) 2024 edition:

  • Familiarise participants with the nine commitments outlined in the CHS and their significance in humanitarian action.
  • Provide an overview of the changes and updates introduced in the 2024 version of the CHS.

Create Awareness of the Enabling Environment for CHS Implementation:

  • Explore the necessary organisational culture, values, and approaches needed to support the systematic application of the CHS.

Strengthen Engagement with Stakeholders:

  • Explore methods for effectively involving stakeholders in decision-making processes and promoting their active participation in finding solutions to crises.

Develop Action Plans for CHS Implementation:

  • Support participants in developing concrete action plans for implementing the CHS within their organizations.
  • Provide tools and resources for monitoring progress and evaluating the impact of CHS implementation efforts.

By achieving these objectives, the workshop aims to empower participants to embrace the CHS as a guiding framework for their organisations’ humanitarian activities, thereby improving the quality, accountability, and ultimately the outcomes of their interventions.

Methodology:

The “Blended Learning” approach developed by CWSA over decades of experience will be used in this
workshop. The approach will be participatory and needs based in nature. It shall include the selection of
participants from various organisations at various levels, and the development of content and methodology will be based on the needs of the participants. Experienced and knowledgeable trainers/practitioners will be engaged and will help participants develop action plans, conduct follow-up refreshers and will provide coaching and mentoring support.

Number of Participants:

20 – 25 participants will be selected for the workshop. Women staff and those with disabilities are encouraged to apply. Preference will be given to participants from organisations based in underserved areas. Applicants will be informed by May 15th, 2024 about their confirmation status.

Selection Criteria:

  • Mid or senior level managers in a civil society organisation, field staff of large CSOs or CSOs
    with main offices in small towns and cities.
  • Commitment to apply learning in their work, including dissemination of learning within
    their organization.
  • Willingness to pay a Training Fees of PKR 15,000/-. Exemptions may be applied for CSOs with
    limited funding and those from marginalised groups. Discount of 10% on early registration by May
    8th, 2024 and 20% discount will be awarded to women participants.

Community World Service Asia (CWSA) is a humanitarian and development organisation, registered in
Pakistan, head- quartered in Karachi and implementing initiatives throughout Asia Pacific. CWSA is a
member of the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) Alliance, a member of Sphere and their regional partner in Asia and also manages the ADRRN Quality & Accountability Hub in Asia. For more details visit our website: www.communityworldservice.asia

If you wish to participate, kindly register here

Advisory Session conducted for SWD Staff on Regulatory Compliances and the Process and Procedure of NGO Registration on EAD E-Portal at Faisalabad on 22nd August 2022

In the world of social welfare, collaboration among stakeholders is essential for effective humanitarian, development and advocacy delivery and the meaningful safeguarding of crisis and disaster affected communities. A successful model of one such collaboration is the partnership between Community World Service Asia (CWSA) and the Social Welfare Department (SWD) in Punjab that has been working towards strengthening social welfare interventions throughout the province since 2021.

Under its Capacity Enhancement Program (CEP) aimed at assisting Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in strengthening their capacity on institutional growth, CWSA has been supporting the SWD since 2021 in facilitating legal registration requirements and in obtaining funding from international sources, through the Economic Affairs Division (EAD). To further expand this work, CWSA is now partnering with Social Welfare Departments in not just Punjab province but also in KyberPakhtunkhwa (KPK) and Sindh on three key areas: revising and implementing NGO policies, building the capacities of both CSOs and SWD staff to fulfil registration criteria, and creating tools for organisational assessment, registration, and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) processes.

Through workshops, advisory sessions, consultations and learning meetings, this collaboration has strengthened the SWD’s infrastructure, aiming to create a fairer and more inclusive system for social protection.

Planning Meeting held on 6th February 2024 with Mr. Mudassar Riaz Malik (Director General SWD Punjab), Mr. Safdar Abbas (Deputy Director NGO’s) and CWSA Team for the establishment of a NGO Help Desk Facility at SWD Lahore Office.

Equipping Changemakers: Capacity Building for CSOs and SWD

Under CWSA and SWD’s joint work, a series of trainings covering a wide array of subjects, ranging from Project Cycle Management and Proposal Writing to specialised areas like Social Mobilisation Skills and Techniques and Essentials of Humanitarian Practices through Mainstreaming Quality and Accountability into Programming are planned and conducted. These workshops have been designed to arm humanitarian practitioners with the skills and knowledge necessary to navigate the registration process on the EAD E-Portal successfully. Participants emerged from the sessions with a solid understanding of humanitarian principles, strategies for incorporating quality and accountability into their work, enhanced report writing abilities, and leadership skills aimed at achieving Sustainable Development Goals. These trainings are not just educational; but are empowering, enabling participants to make meaningful contributions to humanitarian, development and advocacy efforts.

“The training on Social Mobilisation Skills and Techniques proved to be highly interactive and comprehensive. The reviews and responses during the activities provided us with greater clarity, resulting in a thorough understanding of social mobilisation. The detailed explanation of the problem tree and objective tree enabled us to identify and address problems effectively.”– Uzma Saleem, Women Zone Welfare Society.

CWSA’s Quality and Accountability (Q&A) team tailored several training sessions specifically for the staff of SWD focusing on areas like Quality and Accountability for Project Cycle Management and navigating the EAD E-Portal and Challenges Faced by NGOs.

“I am deeply thankful to CWSA for hosting an insightful workshop that broadened our understanding of implementing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including the roles played by the state, private sector, and CSOs. The training was rich with interactive sessions and group activities, fostering a comprehensive grasp of the SDGs, their indicators, and targets.” – Ijaz Orakzai, CAMP.

National Round Table Meeting conducted at Lahore on 13th May 2022 with Seniors Officers from SWD Punjab, SWD Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Social Welfare Training Institute and Economic Affairs Division to discuss the formulation of Provincial NGO Policy/Guidelines and strategies to streamline NGO registration process at the provincial level

Beyond Training: Personalised Support Through Advisory Sessions

The collaboration also offers personalised support to NGOs and SWD staff through advisory sessions. These sessions focus specifically on navigating the legalities of NGO registration on the Economic Affairs Division’s (EAD) E-Portal.

A total of nine sessions have been held across various districts in Punjab, including Faisalabad, Rahim Yar Khan, Bahawalpur, Gujranwala, Lahore, Sargodha, and Rawalpindi. The SWD Punjab plays a crucial role by facilitating these sessions and inviting local NGOs to participate.

These advisory sessions prove highly valuable for CSOs. So far, participants have gained a clear understanding of the E-Portal registration process, including what documents are required, application completion procedures, and any potential challenges that might arise. This personalised guidance empowers CSOs to navigate the registration process efficiently, increasing their chances of securing legal recognition and accessing foreign grant funding.

Bridging the Gap: The NGO Helpdesk and a Smoother Registration Process
Recognising the broader challenges faced by NGOs across Pakistan, further steps have been taken to streamline the legal registration process. A key initiative to do this effectively was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between CWSA and the Economic Affairs Division (EAD).

Following this, CWSA set up an NGO Help Desk within the Economic Affairs Division, aimed at clarifying procedures for NGOs and easing the administrative delays that often hamper the MOU acquisition process. With the launch of EAD’s online E-Portal for NGO Registration in 2022, CWSA contributes by providing human resources to assist in uploading data for existing NGOs onto the portal. The establishment of the NGO Help Desk proves to be a significant aid for NGOs fulfilling regulatory compliance and registration processes with EAD and Social Welfare Departments (SWDs). The help desk has been particularly effective, with 64% of NGOs reporting that they received valuable follow-up support during their registration processes with SWD and EAD. Additionally, 80% of NGOs that participated in capacity-building workshops successfully met all regulatory compliance requirements for their registration and EAD MoU applications.

Certificate Distribution Ceremony for Advisory Session conducted for NGO and SWD Staff on Regulatory Compliances and the Process and Procedure of NGO Registration on EAD E-Portal at Bahawalpur on 6 June 2023

Empowering the Social Welfare Department: Collaboration and Progress

Safar Abbas, Deputy Director, SWD Punjab, acknowledges the critical role CWSA has been playing in enhancing policy frameworks and operational guidelines at both the federal and provincial levels. Through active discussions and engagements with relevant authorities, CWSA has been instrumental in updating the NGO Policy of 2013, effectively disseminating the revised policies among NGOs and Social Welfare Departments via advisory sessions, seminars, webinars, and roundtable discussions.

The collaboration has led to the revision of the SWD’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), aligning them with current needs and international best practices. This includes the development and notification of updated SOPs for NGOs, alongside orientation sessions for SWD officers in KPK, ensuring a robust and practical framework for operational efficiency and compliance.

Between February 2021 and September 2022, CWSA conducted 11 webinars on key topics such as NGO Registration via E-Portal, Regulatory Compliances, and the SOPs/Policies of EAD and SWD, engaging 677 participants from 562 organisations. From March 2021 to June 2023, a number of seminars were held across the provinces of Sindh, Punjab, and KPK, focusing on registration processes, compliance, and the role of responsible civil society organisations.

Roundtable discussions brought together NGOs, SWD officials, and other stakeholders to tackle prevalent issues, leading to significant progress in policy alignment and procedural uniformity across provinces. These dialogues have set the stage for closer collaboration in drafting provincial NGO policies and streamlining e-registration processes.

Key achievements from these discussions include the drafting of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between CWSA and SWD KPK, symbolising a formal commitment to ongoing partnership. Additionally, these meetings have opened channels of communication and coordination between the Social Welfare Departments of Punjab and KPK, with SWD Punjab offering its support to KPK in developing its NGO E-Portal and sharing updated NGO SOPs.

In its continuous effort to enhance visibility and advocacy, CWSA has also supported the Social Welfare Training Institute in Lahore by contributing to its Biannual Newsletters and developing a comprehensive ‘Step by Step Guide for Registration with EAD E-Portal’. This guide is now available in English and will soon be translated into Urdu, further improving its reach and access among all stakeholders.

Beyond its collaboration with CWSA, SWD actively works towards fostering a broader collaborative environment, engaging with other governmental bodies like the Economic Affairs Division (EAD) and the Charity Commission. This collective effort creates a unified and efficient framework for enhancing service delivery and improving operational practices. By facilitating meaningful discussions among EAD, Social Welfare Departments, the Charity Commissions, and other key stakeholders, CWSA has been a catalyst in the development of Provincial NGO Policies/Guidelines. These efforts ensure a harmonised legal framework for NGOs, eliminating redundancies and inconsistencies in regulatory requirements.

Another key outcome of these discussions is the agreement on standardised compliances and the integration of approval processes. The innovative step of linking the Social Welfare Department’s e-portal with that of the Charity Commission has notably streamlined the NGO registration process. This integration facilitates a more efficient, transparent, and user-friendly approach to NGO management and oversight.

Looking at the Future

“These engagements have not only fostered a culture of learning and improvement but have also significantly enhanced the efficacy of social welfare initiatives. By working together, these departments and organisations are better equipped to address the needs of the affected communities, optimising the impact of our efforts towards social welfare and community development,” states, Safar Abbas as she highlights the value of this partnership, underscoring the importance of exchanging best practices and leveraging collective experiences

“There is still a need for uniform compliance across all NGOs to ensure consistency, transparency, and effectiveness in service delivery,” shares Safdar, “Such standardisation can enhance accountability and improve the overall impact of NGOs on society. The SWD can play a significant role in establishing uniform compliance by acting as a regulatory body that develops and enforces compliance standards.”

The collaboration between CWSA and the SWD exemplifies the transforming power of partnerships in driving social change.

Lal Ji, his wife and three children of village Umeed Ali Chandio just outside Nabisar (Umerkot district) live in a very neat, well-kept, almost picturesque home. He is a landless farmer who works eight acres of a landlord’s holding and shares the proceeds with the owner. But he blindly followed farming procedures unchanged for centuries. He cites the example of how millets, guar and mauth lentils were sowed all together in the same plots despite each having a different ripening time.

“When the first crop was ready and we harvested, we damaged nearly half of the remaining unripe species underfoot and with the sickle. That was the way passed down to us by our elders and it simply did not occur to us that planting each specie in separate plots could double the yield of those ripening later. It had to be the staff and trainers of this organisation (Community World Service Asia (CWSA)) to teach us how to do the right thing under!” says Lal Ji.

Asked why it was like that and why he or other farmers did not think logically to increase their yield, Lal Ji simply shrugs and says that was the way of the elders. “But now we are awakened and I am myself surprised how such a simple thing eluded us,” he adds.

If that ancient practice put Thar farmers at a disadvantage, the periodic disasters added to the deterrent. In 2021, Thar was invaded by a pestilence of locust. That year Lal Ji had invested PKR 40,000 (Approx. USD 143) in the eight acres he was farming. This sum had all been borrowed from the landlord and when the locusts wiped out every last bit of green from his fields. He went under debt and had to live by selling off some of his livestock. The year that followed was hardly any better. If there was no locust, the summer rains failed and once again Lal Ji kept body and soul together by disposing off some more of his livestock.

The beginning of 2022 brought in succour. The multi-purpose cash grant, agricultural and vegetable seeds together with training under CWSA & DKH’s food security and livelihood support, smoothed the bumpy road Lal Ji was treading. His excitement about learning to plant millets, guar and mauth in different plots is still viable two years after learning this evident truth. The cash grant helped him pay off his debt and the year when the rest of Sindh was drowned out by the worst deluge known in living memory, his fields in the troughs of the dunes did well with the natural irrigation.

In December 2023, he recounted how he had harvested 400 kilograms each of millets, guar beans and mauth. The millets he kept for his family while the rest he sold. However, being the judicious man that he is, Lal Ji retained enough seeds for his 2024 summer plantation.

Another thing that Lal Ji and the others learned in the training was that selling the harvest wholesale fetched better prices. Earlier they would be approached by the bania (Indian caste consisting generally of moneylenders or merchants) from town who would offer the farmers a price for the standing crop. Since these poor farmers did not have the means to truck their harvest to the market, they reluctantly accepted the offer even when they knew it was fifty percent below the market price. Those who did not, would harvest and pack 40-kilogram sacks to haul to market by donkey as and when they required cash. Though they got marginally more per kilogram than selling the standing crop, the price was still below the market rate.

The training taught them to work cooperatively. In late 2022, when the separately planted crops were nearing harvest, the bania arrived with his offer only to be disappointed. He was told that this time the farmers were to bring their goods to him. And so, Lal Ji and five others filled up their sacks, hired a pick-up truck and hauled the harvest to the market where they sought the best buyer. The profit astonished the group. Once again Lal Ji is amazed why they had not thought of this simple mechanism by themselves.

It takes motivation, a bit of awareness raising and the freedom from worry for communities to think of the future. Following the first CWSA intervention, the village organisation repeatedly beset the District Education Officer and got a regular teacher for the village school who, they insisted, must be a local person and not from another district. This was to ensure interest and regular presence. The teacher, a Nabisar young man, now attends school daily.

Meanwhile, Lal Ji sends his two sons and daughter to the school in Nabisar town. They walk the three kilometres to and fro. For pre-teenage children that’s a tough walk through the sand, but Lal Ji says that the produce of the kitchen garden has added so much vigour to their lives for the children to even be tired when they return in the afternoon. “They also take PKR 20 each for something to eat from their school tuck shop,” says the man.

Sixty rupees daily sounds expensive and Lal Ji says he had always given his children this daily allowance. In days of adversity, he borrowed the sum from the village shop keeper. Now he gives it out from his own purse.

Almost breathless in his narration Lal Ji moves on to the boon of hydroponic agriculture. It is the greatest discovery in Lal Ji’s vocabulary. He shows off his trays of young maize seedlings and narrates how he has already fed one round of this miracle to his three goats even as the second is ready for cutting. The two goats that are in milk have markedly increased yield and his wife is able to give the three children half a glass each with breakfast.

A few houses away, young Bilawal is a livestock keeper with thirty goats who had long supplied the village with dairy products. He too has hydroponic trays in a shed for his livestock and has already fed his livestock three rounds from them. He says his four trays are too few for his stock and plans to increase them to twelve.

“Earlier I got not more than 250 ml of milk a day from each goat. This hydroponic feed is always available, even in the driest part of summer. And now my goats yield twice as much milk,” recounts Bilawal. From the five to six litres of milk from ten lactating goats he produces yogurt and clarified butter (ghee). While the yogurt is used at home, the ghee is a cash produce.

Bilawal says that livestock feed was always a problem during the drier months of summer. As a result, milk output almost dried up during those times. But since he has discovered hydroponic gardening, his goats are yielding very well. If things go well, Bilawal hopes to add a couple of buffaloes to his stock before the end of 2024.

It seems the livestock farmers of village Umeed Ali Chandio have hit the lode.

Sorath lives in village Thantrai, a thirty-minute bus ride from Umerkot, with its schools and colleges. Yet she is a farm labourer and has never received any formal education. So is her husband. But her daughter and three younger sons all attend a primary school about two kilometres from the village. Though she now feels it should have been that way for her as well, but even for her children it was not always like this.

Why, only four years ago, like every other woman, Sorath too was against sending her daughter to school. For one, it was a bit of a walk from home and then girls were not supposed to be educated ‘lest they get strange ideas in their heads’. As well as all that, as farm labourers, she and her husband rarely got work every day and their monthly average income was never above PKR 5000 (Approx. USD 18). That would have been too little to maintain four children’s education despite school being free.

Rewind three years into the past and one finds Community World Service Asia’s social mobilisers visiting the village. The awareness raising sessions that followed had a deep impression on this apparently very clever woman. Here was talk of the equality of genders and of the ability of women to do anything that a man could and yet also give birth which man could not. Here she heard that it was because of all this that the girl child had the same right as her brother to be educated.

“I thought to myself that I have been illiterate all my life and therefore condemned to being a farm labourer who spends full summer days picking cotton for a mere PKR 300 (Approx. USD 1). Why does my daughter have to be similarly handicapped?” says Sorath. After the first couple of sessions with the social mobilisers, Sorath took her daughter to school where she learned that without the children’s B Form1 as issued by the National Database and Registration Authority, the children could not be enrolled.

That was the first thing Sorath and her husband went after. Armed with that document the girl who, in the words of her mother, ‘just growing old helping me with housework’ was put in school. Sorath now became the sole crusader in Thantrai for the cause of girls’ education. She went from door to door exhorting parents to step out and do the needful. Those who mouthed the ancient ‘wisdom’ of denying girls education were sharply rebuked and presented with the example of her own daughter in school. She taunted parents for planning their daughters’ future to be just as their own past and present had been. Unrelenting in her canvassing, Sorath soon had forty girls from her para (precinct) of the village in school.

“My daughter is so happy about her education, she is up early and dressed long before it is time to walk to school. She gets her brothers ready and then goes around the para coaxing the other girls to hurry,” says Sorath. Unsurprisingly, the girl who started late is already in Grade 3 and doing well.

In acknowledgement of her school enrolment campaign, the District Education Office organised a seminar in Umerkot where Sorath was a delegate. But on stage, she experienced a bit of a stage fright and did not say as much as she would otherwise in community consultations and her door to door campaigning. Nevertheless, the officers in attendance saw the fire inside and resolved to take her to the provincial seminar in Karachi. Sorath says she had never even been to Mirpur Khas and was in a state of sheer fright that she would be lost in the city. Even though no one from her family had ever been to the city, she planned to take her husband, father-in-law and her three sons to help her navigate the big city. It took some considerable effort by Nusrat, the CWSA social mobiliser, to assure her that all would be well because she would be with Sorath. In the end, her husband only accompanied her.

Once in the city, Sorath and her man, despite being chaperoned, were alarmed. The tall buildings, the speeding traffic, the endless bustle of the sea of humanity were all new to them. Seeing the signs on the roads, Sorath says she thought of her daughter who would have been able to read for them and know which way to go and a wave of satisfaction swept over her for having done the right thing in sending the child to school.

Before she was called on stage, a short documentary about her life in the village was screened. Only three days earlier, a team had arrived with an ‘airplane’ (drone) to film her at work around the home and now the whole world was seeing how she, a simple farm labourer, spent the days of her life. As she was called to step onto the stage, fright took hold of her. But once behind the lectern, that fear dissolved, and Sorath spoke of how CWSA social mobilisers had altered her view on the need for education for the girl child. And that she became the first mother in the village to send their daughter to school.

She spoke of her tireless campaign around her village for families to procure the B Form for their children without which they could not be in school. And she told the audience how she had virtually harangued women to not be afraid of their daughters’ education. In the end she demanded of the provincial education minister to provide her village a school – one that was preferably secondary level. The applause was respect and appreciation Sorath had never known before. One hopes that the minister’s promise of seeing to it that the village had a school was not drowned out in the din of clapping.

Back at home, she went around telling the others what the big city and its even bigger ocean looked like. Why, she was the first one in the village to have taken this trip. And if like her these women ensured their children’s education, they too were likely to make a similar trip sometime in future.

Sorath recounts that the girls who attend school can clearly be told apart. They have neater appearances, combed hair and they carry themselves with more grace than their peers who have not yet started school. Harchand para, on the other side of the village, still has most girls out of school and that is now Sorath’s target. “There are at least sixty young girls there who I want to see in the classroom,” she says. Sorath has heard girls whispering that they want to be like the visiting social mobilisers of CWSA and she tells them they can be all that and more if they attend school. She admits it was this very strategy that got parents and girls of her own para to seek education.

“I know college education will be expensive. But no matter how long and how hard I have to pick cotton and hoe the landlord’s fields, I’ll do it and see my daughter through to the highest level of education she wants to attain,” says Sorath.

One can see that this is not just an empty boast. It is clear that Sorath’s connection to her land and her commitment to fostering growth is not just in crops, but in the minds and lives of the girls in her village.


  1. Child Registration Certificate (CRC) ↩︎

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We are thrilled to announce that Community World Service Asia’s Regional Director is elected on the International Council of Voluntary Agencies’s (ICVA) board this term. This marks a milestone for ICVA as it hosted its 19th General Assembly!

During the General Assembly significant decisions were made. The Strategic Priorities 2025-2027 were adopted, amendments to the ICVA Statutes were approved, and the principles and standards were reaffirmed. Additionally, a new Board and Chair were elected. Ms Nimo Hassan, Somali NGO Consortium, was elected as the ICVA Chair. The new board will lead the ICVA membership forward in the next three years.

Together, with ICVA, we’re committed to making humanitarian action more principled and effective by working collectively and independently to influence policy and practice.