Stories

Program participants

A Women Farmers Festival was organized by Community World Service Asia at Darbar Hall in Jhuddo under the Promoting Sustainable Agriculture project, supported by PWS&D and CFGB, in Badin, Pakistan. More than three hundred women farmers attended the festival that took place on July 5th this year. Eight guest speakers (all women),  representing various local and international organizations, and bringing with them a wide array of expertise and skill, shared their experiences, learnings and advice with the women farmers  attending  the event.

The Festival aimed at:

  • Providing an experience sharing and peer learning platform to local women farmers on Nutrition and Kitchen Gardening interventions
  • Developing collaborative relations and linkages among communities,  CSOs and NGOs, government departments  and community based organizations working in the area
  • Building awareness on climate change impacts and global food security and nutrition challenge among local communities

Shama, Agriculture Extension Officer, Community World Service Asia,  introduced the organization and shared the plan and outcomes of the Promoting Sustainable Agriculture project to ensure food security in Badin.

A little bit of Fun

An interactive theater play was performed by the Parbhat[1] theater group at the festival. The theme of the performance was food security, nutrition, kitchen gardening and tree plantation. The performers not only highlighted the importance of a balanced diet, the need for special mother and child health care and ways of sustaining kitchen garden at times of water shortages, but also strongly emphasized on the perils of climate change and the role of progressive agricultural practices in mitigating its impacts.

Local primary schools’ students entertained the audience with original poetry and humour story recitations, singing folk songs, and traditional dance performances. School-going children of Prem Nagar village  performed a tableau focusing on the importance of food security, nutrition, tree plantation, environment, education and home gardening. To give a breather to the audience from the main theme in focus, students of the Ram Public School charaded an exclusive play highlighting the Sindhi culture and its social bindings prevalent in the province.

Attendees of the festival participated in various entertainment activities such as  musical chairs, eating competitions and more. The winners were also awarded gifts.

Exhibit Corner

Models of Low Cost Drip and Pitcher Irrigation for sustainable kitchen gardening were displayed by the CWSA team. At the same stall, IEC material on nutrition, kitchen gardening, nutritional value of Moringa and other project interventions were also displayed.

Local women artisans also displayed their vibrant handicrafts for sale  at the festival.

Other non-profit organizations working in the region were also given an opportunity to set up stalls, displaying local handicrafts and pictorial presentations reflecting their own project activities, at the festival.

Award Ceremony

Distinguish guest speakers were presented with Traditional Chunri (Local scarf). All the children who performed at the various activities at the festival were awarded with appreciatory gifts. The festival was seen as a bridge that addressed the existing gaps between community members, local farmers and government officials and a big leap towards enhancing agricultural development in Sindh.

[1] A local theater group in Badin.

Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them.
Paul Hawken – American Environmentalist

Emerging or smaller organizations often work within informal organizational structures due to lack of financial and human resources. This commonly results in fewer staff members performing multiple functions. With this sort of multi-tasking, it is imperative that key employees of such organizations are equipped with basic skills on managing human resources, operational and financial functions of the organization to ensure consistent efficiency and productivity. To support small and medium civil society organizations and local NGOs to achieve this level of efficiency and quality management, Community World Service Asia conducted a capacity enhancement opportunity through a four-day workshop on Organization Management this July.

What did the workshop aim to achieve?

  • To develop functional understanding of Organizational Management skills
  • To equip participants with the knowledge of the latest trends and techniques in Organizational Management
  • To familiarize participants with the concept and practices of Human Resource Management
  • To Identify ways and approaches for effective resource management (Multi-Tasking)

The prime focus of the training was to strengthen the capacity of local level organizations directly engaged in community mobilization and on-ground development initiatives. The key topics covered were Organizational Sustainability, Management Style in Different Cultures, People Management, Art of Planning and Implementation and Applied Tax Compliance. A total of twenty-four participants from fourteen different organizations took part in the workshop.

Applying Innovation in Training methodology

Once the participants for this training were selected, they were fully taken on board with the conceptualization, designing and activity planning of the training itself. Through an e-meeting, they were all asked about their expectations from this training and what they actually wished to take back from it. At this meeting, participating organizations particularly highlighted the need to include dedicated sessions on Applied Tax Compliances, Linking CHS with organizational management and Shrinking Space while working in sensitive environments. For these sessions, experts were invited to share their learnings and experiences in their specialized fields.

A baseline survey was also conducted to assess the limitations and priorities of all participants prior to the training.

Sessions of the Workshop:

Linking CHS with Organizational Work:

There is a growing demand to adopt to international standards and protocols. Donors are pursuing the agenda for linking the organization policies, procedures and practices with international standards for quality and accountability. Local level organizations have shown deep interest in the pretraining stage to understand Core Humanitarian Standards and its significance for organization working in Pakistan.

Community World Service Asia being focal partner of Sphere and an active member of CHS Alliance helped organizations in the workshop understand the importance of CHS and linking it to organizational management. Rizwan Iqbal and Sana Basim, in-house Trainers, briefed the participants on how to link CHS nine commitments with organizational policies, procedures and practices.

Shrinking Space to Operate for NGOs:

The biggest challenge NGOs in Pakistan face is the shrinking space to operate. The problem associated with this is the lack of information about the factors behind the shrinking space. This is another area where CWSA is vigorously engaged. Karen Janjua, Associate Regional Director (Strategy and Partnership), was the guest speaker for this session. She shared the global and national factors behind the shrinking space like the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations to counter terrorism funding and newly introduce national legislative measure for this. She also shared the importance of working together and need for positively engaging with government. The participants appreciated the step of Community World Service Asia in introducing them to national and international legislations and how to improve the situation.

Applied Tax Compliance:

There have been a lot of changes in tax and financial protocols for NGOs by the state in Pakistan. According to the participating NGOs, they face the problem of identifying tax rates, deducting taxes and filing returns. Hira Saeed from the Finance department in Community World Service Asia, briefed the participants about the FBR tax reforms in recent times and their implication on NGOs sector. She also shared the tax slabs for different categories.

Applying the Blended Learning Approach:

Practicing the blended learning approach, the facilitators’ team divided the participants’ group into two. The first group was asked to develop a short presentation on their organizational sustainability model, while the other group was asked to present  their management structure as part of the session on Management Style in Different Cultures on day 2 of the training.

Since participants from same organizations were assigned different groups, each participating organization was able to share their sustainability model and management structure by the end of the session. The purpose of this activity was to promote peer learning and sharing of contextualized best practices through open discussions, one-on-one talks and formal presentations among various organizations.

Outcomes:

Participants developed organizational action plans, chalking out the roadmap for implementing the learnings of the training and the post-training support they would require towards the end of the training. They all requested to share their respective action points within their organization before agreeing on the final points. This was agreed upon and a follow-up questionnaire was decided to be shared among all training participants to complete in liaison with their line managers and senior management.

Chaudary Shafiq, Commissioner at the National Commission for Human Rights, participated as  chief guest at the closing day of the workshop. He commended the significant role played by national and local organization in Pakistan towards highlighting the issues of the underprivileged and underserved communities in Pakistan.

Women were mostly busy with home chores, grass cutting and field work during harvest seasons and men were commonly engaged in agricultural activities and small local businesses,

shared Yar Mohammad, a forty-one-year-old resident and General Secretary of the steering Committee in Dibh village, Umerkot. Yar Muhammad is a teacher at a local school located in his village. He has been teaching since over a decade now and firmly believes in education being an important indicator for progressive change in communities and societies.

I strongly promote education in my house. My eldest son is completing his Masters’ degree from Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad and my daughter, whose younger than him, is completing her Bachelor’s degree in Arts, privately,

proudly narrated Yar Muhammad, “

Girls here continue their higher education but they do so privately; living in a conservative society, we do not send our daughters to far away cities alone. There are no colleges or universities anywhere near in the area that we live. However, seven of my children, including my four sons and three daughters have attended and continue to attend academic institutes, except for my youngest one, as he is very young yet.

In April of 2017, Community World Service Asia expanded their livelihoods project, supported by YCare and UKAID, to Dibh village in its third year of implementation. In a meeting with the elders of the village, the livelihoods team briefed the attendants on the project’s goals of enhancing the artisan skills of women and linking them with buyers and markets, increasing gender-based awareness and empowering women with decision-making capacities.

Being part of the initial meeting, and understanding what the project aimed to achieve, I thought of it as a very dynamic initiative for women as they rarely get opportunities of capacity building and exposure here. They naturally have a talent of stitching clothes and if this skill is further developed, they will be able to earn good money as well,

 expressed Yar Muhammad,

There were some men who did not agree initially as they believed it was against our cultural norms to allow women to work openly and travel to other cities for exposure. However, as an elder of the village, the people trusted my decision to invite this project in the village. Most importantly, men in the village collectively thought that this initiative will improve the standard of living of the people here.

A Steering Committee consisting of fifteen members was initially formed as the first step towards implementing this project in Dibh. The committee members included eight men and seven women Mandar, Yar Muhammad’s brother, was elected as President and Nasreen, a residual of Dibh, as vice president of the committee.

In our first joint meetings, we learnt about the basic rights of women which we were unaware of before. Inadvertently, we discriminated against women and overlooked the countless contributions they make in our households. All the members actively agreed to promote women rights and to involve them in decision-making processes of the village. These meetings are often conducted once a month but if there is an important issue to be resolved then we come together after 15 days as well.

A vocational center was successfully established in a room in one of the houses in Dibh village. This room was voluntarily contributed to be used as a vocational centre by one of Dibh’s residents.

Some men opposed the idea of skill building classes and discouraged establishing the vocational center. The steering committee held meetings to change the minds of these men and to persuade them towards supporting this development and positive change for the village people. As a result of the steering committee’s relentless efforts towards raising awareness on the rights of women and the benefits of the project, twenty-eight artisans successfully enrolled for classes at the vocational center and are enthusiastically working and learning there currently,

 added Yar.

Moreover, we also invited other community members from neighboring villages to join the center and informed them about the skill building component in the livelihoods project. We held a meeting with the residents of Bheel, a Hindu community, to encourage them to send their women at the center for skill building as well. Today, four artisans from Bheel attend the center as well.

Nazia, Vice President of Steering Committee, happily shared,

I am an artisan in the vocational center as well. We have been earning a good income from the orders we receive. Seeing our confidence and vocal skills in the decision-making processes, men have started to trust us more. Many of us run the budget of our households as the men give the monthly budget in our hands and trust us to manage the expenditures accordingly. The women have become so responsible and are able to save most of their earnings. They are also able to purchase gold jewelry and clothing for themselves and for their daughter’s dowry. For the healthcare of women, most of the men pay for the medical expenses. The women prefer to keep their savings for times of emergencies.

Kiran, an Enterprise Development Officer at Community World Service Asia informed us, saying,

Dibh village has had the highest earning through orders in this year of the livelihoods project. They have earned approximately PKR 400,000 (Approx. 3500 U$D) since the establishment of the center which was in May 2017. The artisans in this village are very hard working and fast in their stitching skills.

The village of Dibh faced severe water scarcity and supply issues as there was no direct water to the area. 

Women had to walk half a kilometer to fetch water from a well. All villagers saved money to construct a water pipeline, which enabled a direct water supply to the village. Now, the women do not have to travel long distances to fetch and carry the heavy containers back home. The members of the committee also work together in resolving other similar matters of residual families; but only when the concerned family requires the support of the steering committee,

 shared Yar Mohammad.

Living in a Muslim community, it is not easy to raise voices regarding social issues, especially, concerning women as we were told by Yar Mohammad.

With the support of the elders of the village however, we were able to organize gender awareness sessions and theater performances. The performances have brought about great change in the rigid mind-sets of the villagers. Awareness was raised regarding the importance of education, especially for girls, and discouraged the tradition of early and childhood marriages. There were many families in Dibh who did not send their children to schools. As a result of the theater performances, I am happy to add that all the young girls in my village attend school regularly now.

Earlier, most young girls were married at the age of fifteen years or whenever earlier a suitable proposal came for them. Parents rarely considered the age difference or the young age of the girls.

The burden of responsibility put on the young lives weakened their health and energy level. The continuous gender sessions helped build awareness and discouraged early marriages. Many people today still live with a very rigid mind-set and do not agree for women to work side by side with men. I think women should be able to work but within certain limits. I do not agree with the empowering of women concept as it is in the west, but they should not be kept locked in houses either. They must practice their right to be educated, to grow as a person and to develop their skills and knowledge,

confessed Yar.

In Dibh, decision-making processes were run by men. Women were less vocal and were dependent on the men to make the final decision in any matter, event or conflict. Meetings with steering committee members have built the confidence of women to speak up and share their opinions with the group.

Women need a platform and a source of encouragement to come forward. Today, gladly, men and women hold joint meeting to resolve the matters of the village. Moreover, women are now more confident and motivated towards life. They take the matters of their health more seriously as compared to before. Before this initiative, the women often adopted traditional remedies to cure health issues. But this has changed. They attend the nearby health facility to avail professional advice by the lady doctor and get proper treatment,

narrated Yar Muhammad.

We did not speak much before. Most of our days were spent in home errands and taking care of children. During the harvest season, women were engaged in field work for as long as eleven hours a day. It was a tough job and we hardly earnt a maximum income of PKR 200 a day (Approx. 4 U$D) and really not worth the hours spent in the harsh conditions in the fields,

said Nazia.

Sariyat, an eighteen-year-old girl’s parents did not agree to send her to the vocational center. As an unmarried young girl, her mother thought it was better for her to be engaged in home chores,

Nazia further narrated. The women members of the committee, including Nazia, met with the family to convince her parents. The family agreed. Sariyat joined the center as a member of the Women Enterprise Group (WEG) and is now working hard on the orders she receives at the center.

We are currently saving money as a committee to purchase a water machine for our village. This will benefit the village immensely as it will provide water to the village frequently. I have great hope for the development in our village. The skill development training has given our women a platform to further continue their work and support their families in future,

shared Yar Mohammad.

The artisans from Dibh have worked on many orders they got from buyers in Umerkot city, local markets and on Nida Azwer’s, a famous urban fashion designer, order. This WEG has received really good feedback from buyers as the work pace and quality of work has been market competitive,

shared Kiran on a positive note,

I gave them an order which was a month’s work of embroidery and stitching. The artisans collectively worked so fast that they completed the order in seven days. I was surprised to see the end product as the artisans never compromised on the quality of the handicrafts. The artisans aim at completing their orders soon so that they can receive other orders. They are truly ambitious and progressive.

The 2016-17 annual schools census report for the province of Sindh, launched by the provincial education department, encompasses an array of parameters that assess academic standards, enrollments and other services of schools in Sindh. One of the many interesting features of the report is the statistics it shows on the number of government schools in the province, which indicate a yawning variance in the number of primary and  higher secondary level schools. According to the census, 89.9%, of the total 42,383 schools in Sindh provide only primary education.

Schools that provide education beyond primary level only amount to 6%, i.e., 2,241 schools in the entire province. More specifically, there are 1,719 secondary schools and 291 higher secondary educational institutions in Sindh. The Umerkot district only hosts 141 middle to higher secondary schools, while there are 1,887 primary schools in the district; providing education services to 92,416 students in the district. In comparison, the students from class six to college level total about 25,000, which is less than 30% of the strength at the primary level.

Education in Umerkot:

The Sindh government has recognized over 42,000 schools in Sindh. It is difficult to manage and supervise all the schools and to ensure that they all provide quality education with their limited resources. However, the education department is involved in various reforms to upgrade the education system in Sindh,

shared Muhammad Luqman Noori, District Coordinator, Local Support Unit, Education Department. Luqman Noori has been working in the education department since 2013. He confirmed that the Sindh government had initiated an Education Management Surveillance System. In this system, the data of all the school registered in the district is collected and saved online. The system is updated annually and most of its data is currently available online.

Moreover, a model school concept has also been introduced to ensure the effective manageability of over 40,000 schools in the province. According to this model, the education department has identified 4,560 schools; those that have a reasonable enrollment, more than two teachers and at least two to three rooms in a building. The education department is working actively on further improving the infrastructure and education quality of these selected schools to gradually improve the education status in Sindh. Out of the 4,560 schools, 151 schools are established in Umerkot.

To promote girls education, a stipend system is introduced for girls studying between grades 6th to 10th. All girl students are entitled to a stipend of PKR 3500 per annum, upon enrollment in any local village school. This activity has encouraged girls to continue their studies through middle and high school. Despite these reforms and other initiatives undertaken by the education department, there is still a long way to go to meet international standards of education in the province.

The ratio of school going girls in the city is higher as compared to that in interior villages of Umerkot. The main reason for the low number is cultural and social barriers. There is a lack of awareness and the rigid mind-sets of rural villagers do not allow girls to be independent and bold which they think they will get with being highly educated,

expressed Dwarko Mal, District Education Officer, Primary School Umerkot.

Dwarko further explained the common practice of early age and child marriages prevalent in many of the villages in the district and other areas of the province. With such customs still predominant, young girls are burdened with countless household and family responsibilities, leaving no time or priority to education and other ambitions.

Majority of the girls here only study till 5th Grade also because there are hardly any  elementary and high schools in many of the villages here. Parents are very reluctant to send their daughters to travel long distances to attend middle or high school due to security and cultural issues. Some parents believe that the sole purpose of a young girl’s life is to be married and to take care of her husband and children. There is a dire need for awareness building for parents to overcome such thinking and allow girls to avail higher education.

 Dwarko also pointed the overall shortage of girl schools, especially in the rural areas of Umerkot, as a major contributing factor to low girls enrollment in the area. Additionally, the over numbered vacant teacher positions have lead to a high shortage of teachers in the existing primary and high schools.

When teachers are retired, their vacancies are rarely filled. For this reason, some schools do not have appointed teachers.

The Girls’ Education Project:

The Girls Education projectⁱ (GEP) was initiated in Thatta and Umerkot districts of Sindh, Pakistan, in 2016, with an aim to improve access to and quality of education for girls.

The GEP team was in close coordination with the Sindh Education Department since the initial stage of the project. We have been involved in all stages of the project; selection of teachers, selection of schools, participation in training events and summer camps. One of the most productive activities were the teachers’ trainings conducted under the project. Not only did they train the teachers on new teaching methods, they monitored the performance of the teachers and the schools to effectively evaluate the impact of the new learning and how it is benefitting students and schools. The teaching material provided in the trainings to the teachers also motivated them to continue applying the new initiatives that they had learnt. The learning kit included colored chart papers, stationary, a dictionary and a globe. Most schools in rural areas lack resources, hence these learning kits encourages teachers and students towards being more motivated and creative,

 narrated Luqman.

Dwarko Mal and Luqman Noori were invited to some of the closing ceremonies of the teachers’ trainings. At these events they observed the increased confidence and innovation of  teachers during group presentations and practical activities.

The training provided a professional and comfortable environment to both men and women participants. Teachers delivered presentations with confidence and the response of other participants was very encouraging. The new teaching techniques adopted by teachers have created student-friendly classrooms where students participants openly without any hesitation,

 said Dwarko Mal,

The new methods of teaching through practical activities will inspire students towards learning as children learn fast when they enjoy studying.

We now support and welcome initiatives focused on child-centered education. The learning outcomes of this method are great  and we have witnessed the growth in teachers and students after the camps and trainings. Enrollment has increased in targeted schools and students are more regular. Teachers have become more observant and friendly towards the students. The traditional role and mind-sets have changed and new teaching techniques have resulted in positive outcomes. The behavior and attitudes of teachers have become child-friendly which has encouraged students to perform better in classrooms. Teachers are now playing a supportive role rather than an authoritative,

added Luqman positively.

This project does not focus on girls’ schools; but it focuses on girls as individuals and productive minds.

The most beneficial aspect of the project was that it included both girls’ and boys’ schools,

 added Luqman excitedly,

I encourage initiatives as these that support communities by providing resources, services and opportunities instead of just giving cash assistance. The money is mostly taken by the parents and not utilized as planned. The resources, skills and opportunities provided through this project directly affect the students which results in increased learning, increased enrollments and healthy student development.

Steps Ahead

The new management appointed in the education department is in the process of hiring Early Childhood Teachers (ECTs). Only women are encouraged to apply for the position. Advertisements have been published with the intention to hire professionally qualified ECTs. This is a positive change and a step forward to implement the early childhood education law in Pakistan,

proudly added Dwarko Mal.

According to Luqman, the teacher trainings have to be a continuous process.

Time and teaching methods are changing frequently on national and international levels. With time, more innovative and unique teaching methods and tools are being introduced. For this reason, the trainings of teachers become mandatory to sustain the quality of education.

 Through the project we have seen that extra curriculum activities motivate students to attend schools and retain an interest in education. Local academic competitions and events such as camps, art or debate competitions, allow students to groom their personalities and exhibit their talents.  However such opportunities are rare in rural villages of Umerkot.

Extra-curriculum activities will encourage students to come to schools and will make parents proud to see their children involved in local or even national academic competitions. All of this requires resources though, which many of these local schools lack. The procedure of accessing resources and support from government funds is very lengthy and time-consuming. Therefore, i will request for organizations to support schools with our coordination and collaboration. If the government and humanitarian organizations work together, change will come fast with fruitful outcomes.

ⁱ Improving Access and Quality of Education for Girls in Thatta and Umerkot project is implemented by Community World Service Asia and supported by Act for Peace.

Group photo of Community World Service Asia project staff with the representatives of participants of the consultation meeting.

Community World Service Asia’s (CWSA) Quality and Accountability team organized a consultation meeting with selected representatives and officials of the academia community of Pakistan to explore the existing practices of student engagement in field work and to initiate the process of designing a comprehensive guide on “Field Work Practicum”. Field Work Practicum is part of the course work of Social Work Department of Pakistani Universities. This involves field work for practical exposure and experience for a certain period of time. The practicum enables students to connect their theoretical curriculum with practical field work. Universities in Pakistan lack guidelines about student placement, role of external and internal supervisors, ethics and norms for students to learn before going to field, scope and limitation of engaging students with organizations, gauging students’ performance and allocating grades for specific subject area. CWSA will facilitate these Universities in developing guidelines which will support the Social Work Departments with well-defined parameters, roles, responsibilities and plans for student engagement and field work.

The meeting held on June 23rd was attended by eleven faculty members from three universities, including University of Sindh, Jamshoro, University of the Punjab, Lahore and University of Peshawar (UoP). The broader aim of the consultation was to identify the existing practice of field work and form a core team responsible for drafting the guideline and developing a detail plan of the “Field Work Practicum Guide Development”.

Dr. Ibrar, Assistant Professor at the Social Work Department, UoP, welcomed all the participants of the meeting and shared the agenda of the day, while, Khurram Saeed, Community World Service Asia representative, facilitated the consultation and explained the process required to work on the guidelines.

The existing practices of academic field work and challenges faced by students and supervisors in its initial stages of implementation were shared by all participants. Arshad Abbasi, Lecturer at University of the Punjab and Waheed Akbar, Lecturer at University of the Sindh, Jamshoro particularly explained the informal mechanism used by their respective universities for field work and various challenges associated with students and supervisors due to informal arrangements. Some major challenges highlighted were the lack of proper plans, clear objectives and follow up mechanism for student performance, role of internal and external supervisor in coaching and mentoring of students and forms and formats for different levels (Objective setting, student plans, reporting and student assessment).

Each of the three participating universities shared their existing practices and challenges through presentations followed by a Question & Answer session. Participants further shared solutions to challenges faced in field work activities with each other and discussed steps to develop the first draft of the guidelines.

Rizwan Iqbal, Community World Service Asia staff member, explained the Core Humanitarian Competency Framework (CHCF) to the participants and how the CHCF can contribute to the development of competency-based student placement programs. In a group exercise, each participant briefly studied the core competencies and identified important features to be incorporated in the program and the practicum. The CHCF was found to be useful and applicable by most of the academia members present at the meeting.

Nominations were requested to form a core committee to begin work on the different stages and drafts of the field work practicum guide. The core committee will receive nominations from universities by the end of July.

Dr. Ibrar formally concluded the session and appreciated the vigorous participation of all the participants and their valuable contribution at this initial stage of development of the field work practicum guide. Nasira Nasreen, Lecturer, Peshawar University, shared,

I am quite impressed by the idea of developing the field work practicum guide as students face challenges from departments and immediate supervisors when conducting related activities. This guide will help improve the processes of field work, resulting in productive outcomes.

 Waheed Akhtar, Lecturer at University of Sindh, Jamshoro highlighted the importance of the meeting

as this experience sharing gave them an opportunity to learn new practices to improve their field work exercises and activities. A standard document will further clarify the processes for students and relevant departments, which will allow efficient and smooth working.

Bacha Rehman, father of six, runs a small grocery shop in Karora town, near his home village of Serei Kana in Shangla, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province of Pakistan. He has been running the shop for nineteen years now. With his parents living with him, Rehman has ten family members (including his own wife and children) to support and provide a livelihood for. To meet the dietary needs of his large family, Rehman grows maize, vegetables and animal fodder on a small piece of land he owns. His wife and him also own three goats, two cows and some poultry as a means to provide for their family.

In late 2015, an earthquake struck parts of Serei Kana and other villages, destroying Rehman’s house among many others.  He reconstructed his small house using cement blocks with RCC1 pillars for the main walls and wooden RCC beams for the roof. The roof was further secured with CGI2 sheets, rafters and then covered with mud and soil. This sort of construction came as a new trend in the area and soon became a common practice here especially after the area was hit with recurring natural calamities such as the earthquakes in 2005 and 2015 and the heavy rains leading to floods in 2010.

Serei Kana, however, has only one water pipeline that provides water to twenty-three houses. The water supply through this line is quite limited and inconsistent, making it insufficient to meet the needs of these many households. To add on, this main supply line has been leaking since it has not been well maintained over the years, resulting in an unnecessary wastage of gallons of precious water.

With Shangla receiving less rain and prolonged drought seasons (from September to end of February), the district experiences perpetual water scarcity.

We barely received five gallons of water per day to fulfill our daily needs. This water is used for drinking, cooking, washing dishes and clothes, to water the crops and the livestock. This was naturally insufficient to meet the needs of ten family members living under one roof.  To ensure that our water needs were somewhat fulfilled, we would walk to a stream that was quite far away from home to fetch water. It was almost an entire day’s travel if we walked to it with our livestock for them to drink from there and then return,

 shared Rehman. 

Rehman was very concerned about the dismal water conditions in their village. The other villagers and him were unable to devise a long-term solution for the water scarcity situation on their own. After much thought, Rehman thought of storing the rain water that stands still on his CGI roof and is ultimately wasted, to reuse for actual consumption. He quickly shared this idea with a local carpenter, who agreed to working on it and soon created and installed a “rain water harvesting” system on the CGI roof of Rehman’s self-built house. Collecting the water from the roof was thus initiated and was a sensible solution but storing the water still remained a major challenge. Purchasing large barrels for water storage was a large additional and unaffordable expense for Rehman.

Community World Service Asia initiated an Integrated Emergency WASH and Shelter support project for the earthquake affected families in District Shangla in August 2016. Under its sanitation component, Rehman fulfilled the beneficiary selection criteria drafted for the project and was selected as a participant for construction of a new latrine. Under the project, material for complete construction of a new latrine along with cash for work labor was provided to him.

Rehman constructed a latrine in his house. He managed the material in a way that he built a RCC roof along with a water storage tank to store rain water on top of the latrine. The water tank measured 6×6 square feet and five feet deep. The rain water collection system installed on the CGI roof was directed to the storage tank, with a valve being fixed with the tap and pipe line of the storage tank to control the water supply. The construction of a rain water collection system was Rehman’s own initiative. He used the material, which was left over after the construction of the latrine, provided by Community World Service Asia.

Rehman and his family now have a constant supply of water in their house, fulfilling all of theirs and their livestock’s daily needs.  His innovative storage system has inspired many fellow villagers who plan to replicate and install the water harvesting system on their CGI roofs to overcome water crisis.

The water is used for all purposes including cooking, drinking, livestock, washing clothes and dishes. Once the tank is filled with water, it is enough to last a month for my family. The water is mainly stored to last us during the drought period.

With the support of Community World Service Asia, I was able to install a latrine and a water storage system. I now have a cleaner and hygienic environment at home and there is less shortage of water. The construction of the storage system cost me half the actual price as I did not purchase cement and other raw materials myself, 

 admitted Rehman happily,

My family was provided with a hygiene kit as well, which included two plastic cans with a lid and one water pot (lota). The cans helped the family to carry and store drinking water in a safe way to avoid risks of water contamination. The frequency of having diarrhea and fever has been considerably reduced in our family. Soaps and sanitation cloths were also provided in the kit.

 Health and hygiene sessions were delivered to Rehman’s family as part of the project interventions as well. These sessions included awareness on maintenance of cleanliness in latrines and households and the importance and correct method of washing hands before and after meals and general guidelines on keeping their surrounding environment clean and safe. 

We are more aware of germs transfer and its preventive measures. I feel the difference as my children look fresh and healthier. It is very important to maintain domestic hygiene as it protects us from various diseases and illnesses. Moreover, my wife and children utilize water according to our needs now, avoiding wastage of water,

 affirmed Rehman.

1 Reinforced Cement Concrete

2 Corrugated Galvanized Iron

The health team was trained on new treatments to combat to malaria.

To ensure that the most deprived and vulnerable communities in the region receive the best kind of support, it is vital that the staff involved in humanitarian and development initiatives is well-trained. Community World Service Asia strongly believes and advocates for this and continues to provide and organize capacity strengthening and enhancement trainings for its staff and partners. As part of this resolve, we recently conducted two refresher trainings for our staff implementing our health project, financially supported by PWS&D[1] in Afghanistan.

The trainings were facilitated by the Laghman Provincial EPI[2] Management Team (PEMT) staff, Regional EPI team and EPI supervisor of Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA).The first training was a six day course (from June 23rd – 28th) on Immunization programs which was participated by six Female Community Health Supervisors (FCHS), responsible for vaccination in the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health centers (MNCH) set up under the project. The aim of the training was to update the vaccinators on changes introduced in EPI guidelines and strategy on vaccines.

EPI is one of the core elements of a Basic Package of Health Services (BPHS) and is considered a priority activity that must be provided by all health facilities, of the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) in Afghanistan. The six FCHSs were trained on providing vaccinations on ten preventable diseases, including Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tuberculosis, Tetanus, Polio, Measles, Hepatitis, Pneumonia, Flue and Diarrhea. The benefits, side-effects, dosages and schedule of administration of vaccination were defined and explained. During the training, the participants were thoroughly briefed on the EPI strategy and objectives and the various Health Management Information System (HMIS) tools. The health workers’ skills on providing new vaccines, its policies, and on the cold chain system and its reporting were further enhanced through this training.

Khatima, a FCHS at the Aziz Khan Camp health facility quoted,

We learnt about new available vaccines including the Rota virus and pneumonia vaccines. Our skills on giving vaccinations were improved and our knowledge on new changes made in the MoPH policy was developed.

The second training, held from June 26 to 28, 2018, focused primarily on malaria. The training refreshed the health team’s expertise and knowledge on the new treatment protocols and case management of malaria patients. Malaria is an endemic disease in Afghanistan which is more common in eastern provinces of Afghanistan. It is highly prevalent in Laghman province. In 2017, there was an outbreak of Plasmodium Falciparum (PF) and Plasmodium Vivax (PV) cases in catchment areas of PSMNCH health facilities. It was one of the top ten diseases reported by PSMNCH health facilities that required more focus on preventive measures. Based on the high prevalence of the disease there was a dire need to further strengthen the health staff’s capacities on its case management. The participants enhanced their skills on new treatments and case management of malaria, its diagnosis and its reporting.

The training was very useful and we learned how to diagnose and treat different cases of malaria. The new changes made in MoPH, regarding the treatment protocol, was informative and important for us to help perform better at our jobs. We have come to know new techniques on how to treat PF and we will continue to treat Malaria more effectively through the new learning we  have received at this training,

 shared Sami Ullah, Nurse at the Ghaziaba health facility.

Khushal, PEMT supervisor of Laghman, added,

The health staff is hard-working and wants to provide good quality health services to the people of Afghanistan. The training has helped cover the gaps identified in the last supervision visit conducted by the PEMT staff. Participants of the training have built a good understanding on new MoPH policies on vaccination and new treatments to combat malaria.

[1] Partnership for Strengthening Mother, Newborn and Child Health project (PSMNCH) is implemented in Afghanistan by Community World Service Asia, with the support of Presbyterian World Service & Development (PWS&D)

[2] Expanded Program of Immunization

More than 335,000 undocumented Afghans have returned home to Afghanistan since the beginning of January this year due to diverse push factors, including deteriorating protection space in Pakistan and Iran. Abdul Raziq is one among the thousands, who came back to his homeland from Pakistan in September 2015. Twenty-six years ago, the then five-year-old Abdul migrated from Marawara district of Kuner Province in Afghanistan to Pakistan with his family. In Pakistan, they settled in a Kacha Abadi1 in Rawalpindi where his father and brothers earned an income through general labor in nearby areas.  Soon after, young Abdul also joined them as a laborer in a brick factory and earned a daily wage of PKR 2,000 (approx. USD 17). The family was living in a mud house of five rooms in the kacha abadi and was making ends meet. At the age of twenty, Abdul got married in Pakistan and is now a father to five children; three daughters and two sons.

In August 2015, the police launched an unannounced operation against the Katcha Abadi and we were given very limited time to collect our belongings and were asked to return to our native lands. They had to clear the area immediately,

 added Raziq sadly,

We returned to Afghanistan. We were however unable to return to our native hometown, Marawara in Kuner Province as there were ongoing protests and political conflicts in the area. Instead, we settled in Haji Baqqi desert in Khiwa district in the Nangarhar province.

Living in seclusion, about eleven kilometers away from the centre of the Khiwa district and nearly twenty-one kilometers from Jalalabad city, Abdul’s family was deprived of many of life’s basic amenities and services. Haji Baqqi had no local markets, schools, clean drinking water sources, health centers, agriculture land or local transportation services. It was just a piece of barren and isolated land. Travelling to the nearest healthy facility would cost AFN 3000 (approx. USD 42). Abdul’s family was cut off from anything that resembled a normal life. And in such circumstances, they could not even afford to fall ill.

In April 2017, Community World Service Asia’s Mobile Health Team in Afghanistan visited Haji Baqqi. The team conducted a thorough check-up of Abdul’s family and two of his youngest sons were vaccinated as well. They were also checked for symptoms of malnutrition which was ruled out, but they were likely to be diagnosed for it if they did not adopt a healthier diet.  The family received health and hygiene sessions and a diet chart to follow for intake of healthier food to improve their health. Abdul’s wife, who conceived late in 2017, also received antenatal care during the mobile team’s visit.

The health team was very cooperative and efficient in providing health services. I realized the importance of the health of mother and child and took better care of myself. I ate clean vegetables, pulses and took my vitamins timely. Moreover, the health and hygiene session has guided our family on the importance of living in a clean and healthy environment. The hygiene kit provided by the health team, consisting of water containers with lids, soaps and cleaning cloths, has helped in developing a good practice of keeping ourselves and our home clean,

 shared Abdul’s wife happily.

Community World Service Asia has been providing health services through mobile health units to repatriated and temporarily displaced communities in Afghanistan. Through our humanitarian health projects, we try to ensure that health services reach the most vulnerable and inaccessible returnee families at their door stop or in their village. Our health facilities include health centers and mobile health trucks that provide free consultations, free medicines, ambulance facilities for critically ill patients, antenatal and postnatal care and vaccination for mothers and children. Our health program has assisted 178,140 returnees and uprooted communities since 2016 Five hundred families have received hygiene kits and 31,500 individuals have been sensitized through hygiene promotion sessions. More than five hundred families have also been provided tents and blankets through our humanitarian initiatives, supported by Japan Platform and PWS&D, for returning families in Afghanistan.

An unprecedented 68.5 million people around the world have been uprooted from their homes, UNHCR reports. Nearly 25.4 million of these displaced communities are refugees, more than half whom are under the age of 18. First marked in 2001, World Refugee Day is held every year on June 20th. On this day, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) states,

tens of thousands of people around the world take time to recognize and applaud the contribution of forcibly displaced people throughout the world. The annual commemoration is marked by a variety of events in more than 100 countries, involving government officials, humanitarian aid workers, celebrities, civilians and the forcibly displaced themselves.

According to UNHCR’s statistical yearbook published in 2018, there are 22.5 million refugees recognized globally, of whom 17.2million are under the UNHCR mandate. Turkey is on top of the hosting countries, hosting 2.9million people followed by Pakistan, which has hosted 1.4million people. Syria is the top most country where 5.5million of their people have taken refuge in other countries. More than 2.5 million Afghanis are living as refugees in other countries.

The sufferings and challenges faced by returnees are similar to or in some cases even worse than that of refugees. As a registered refugee, one is at least ensured basic rights such as food, shelter, health, water and sanitation by hosting countries. Whereas in the case of most returnees, the support provided to them is not enough to cover the needs of a complete family. Community World Service Asia is committed to helping refugees and returnees and providing hope for a better life. Our projects provide health assistance in Laghman and Nangarhar Provinces of Afghanistan, with continuous support to returnees through the provision of food and non-food items.

1 A kind of a shanty town where homeless and underprivileged people live in temporary huts made from wood such as branches of trees and roofs made of tin foil.

Group Photo of the training participants of "Leadership Development for Managers" in Sindh.

Most managers in local organizations are often not given many opportunities of professional training or grooming on enhancing leadership skills. These particular skills are crucial to achieving planned goals and to bring the best out of a team in any management role. To fill this gap and to further strengthen the role of managers, second-line leadership, and  staff in supervisory roles in local NGOs or CSOs, Community World Service Asia organized a four-day workshop on Leadership Development, under its Capacity Enhancement Program in Mirpurkhas, Sindh, Pakistan. The training, organized in early May, was participated by twenty-seven professionals from eleven local level organizations in Sindh.

The training, which was in a “workshop” format,  focused on introducing the various leadership styles recognized globally and strengthening management skills and professional competencies to lead and guide teams and individuals. Some of the key sessions of the training included “Difference between Leadership and Management Skills”, “Community types and style”, “Transactional Analysis and Coaching” and “Mentoring Skills”. Participants understood the difference between a good leader and a good manager and what characteristics stands them apart. An activity which aimed at identifying and mastering the five steps for team building helped the participants to reflect upon the critical stages of team building and how to facilitate the process. Referencing to real life challenges faced in work environments when attempting to conduct team building activities, this session was particularly relevant for most participants.

Transactional Analysis was a new approach introduced in the training. The session analyzed the social transformations of organizations. With the help of this session, the participants further built their knowledge on the various types of social transactions and how to avoid arguments or cross communication with colleagues in future.

Participants recognized the importance of mentoring and coaching towards developing second-line leadership and how vital it is for staff in managerial roles as it aids in limiting the risks of internal and external challenges faced by organizations.

Sohail Muhammad Ali, the lead trainer for the workshop applied interactive and participatory approaches throughout the training which allowed participants to be consistently engaged and active throughout the sessions. Participants voiced their concerns and opinions openly during the four-days workshop.

Participants’ Voices:

“This was a unique training experience. To me the difference between western and eastern communications style was a new thing. We are always engaged in communication without knowing our style of communication, its pro and cons, strengths and weaknesses and limitations. The discussion on different communication models really helped me understand the different backstopping I personally face in my work. Now I can analyze my style of communication and work for further improvement.

Asad Chachar, Jagarta Social Welfare Organization (JSWO)

“Training for Leadership Development for Managers was very informative. I learnt new approaches and tools including Transitional analysis, Emotional intelligence & trust building. These tools are indeed helpful in understanding the note of emotions, language style, communication type and understand what others want to communicate. Words alone do not give you the complete message. You have to understand the emotions and communication style of others to fully understand their message. Previously, we only focused on words which often created problems as there was no clarity or clear message. I am very hopeful this training will be helpful for me in my professional career and personal life”

Allah Dino Khoso, field office, Badin, Sindh, Community World Service Asia

“I am relatively new to this sector and this training really helped me to understand the dynamics of management and leadership skills.  The environment was very comfortable and it provided a culture of sharing and acquiring new skills together. The facilitator of the training was proactive in delivering the sessions. He possessed in-depth knowledge and shared good examples on the training subject. The workshop was very interactive and everyone was engaged throughout the training”

Beenish Mahak, Nishat Welfare Organization

“We do say that leaders are born with leadership skills, however through capacity building programs, these skills can be developed among second line management as well.  The culture of mentoring and coaching in the organizations builds a strong bond for staff within the organization. It increases their commitment and spirit to achieve higher targets and attain long term objectives of the organization. This is one of my key learnings from  this training.”

Fozia Kashif, Participatory Village Development Programme

Farmers' group photo with Agriculture Research Officer, Ubaid, at Ayub Agriculture Research Institute Faisalabad.

An exposure visit to Faisalabad of twenty-seven farmers and seven project staff from Badin, Sindh was conducted from the 10th to 12th of May this year. The group visited the University of Agriculture and the Ayub Agriculture Research Institute in Faisalabad. A field excursion to the Gatwala Forest Park in the city was also completed. This exposure visit provided the farmers of Badin an opportunity to observe, understand and learn the various and advanced activities carried out in these state of the art agricultural institutions. Most importantly this visit aimed at bridging the linkages between on-ground farmers and leading agriculture research institutes.

Dr. Abdul Wakeel, Assistant Professor at the University of Agriculture in Faisalabad, welcomed the participants on the 10th of May and gave a brief introduction of the institute and its work to them. Farmers were taken to the university’s nurseries where they observed a variety of plantations and different experiments aimed at enhancing the productivity and yield of crops in process.  Dr. Asif Tanveer delivered a comprehensive and informative session on sustainable agriculture practices at the Agronomy Library at the institute which was followed by a questions and answers session with the farmers from Sindh. Many queries of the farmers were addressed and they were encouraged to implement the learnings to expect better outputs in their fields back home.

Similarly, the next day, Dr. Abid Mahmood, Director General Research at the Ayub Agriculture Research Institute (AARI) in Faisalabad oriented and briefed the farmers group on the on-going researches and latest breakthroughs the AARI and its sister institute and substations have achieved. The Agriculture Research Officer and member of monitoring and evaluation and Quarantine committee at AARI, gave a thorough explanation of the sister institutes and substation of AARI. The farmers were made aware of the many services they could avail from the AARI institutes; such as acquiring seeds of new varieties and plant saplings, seeking recommendations for better productivity and being provided with copies of relevant IEC material.

Dr. Dilber and Dr. Khalid, Scientific Officers at AARI, informed the participants about rearing of beneficial insects, including Tricograma and Phenacoccus aceris, which play a key role in pest management during their visit of the Integrated Pest Management Laboratory. They were also made aware of the advance production technology available for different vegetables at the field site where a variety of crops were produced.  At the field area where cereal crop is produced, the farmers were updated on the development of Hybrid seeds, advanced production technology of a range of cereal crops and the availability of newly developed seed varieties at economical prices. After the AARI and on their last day in Faisalabad, the team from Sindh visited the Gatwala forest nursery and park where they explored different species of fruit, forest and ornamental plants.

The exposure visit enabled farmers from different communities to interact with and learn from each other, allowing them to view practical examples of successful integration of sustainable practices in farming communities like their own. This platform provided progressive farmers to expand their knowledge and skill by visiting agricultural sites where new technologies and techniques are adopted. The farmers learnt and understood a variety of different available methods utilized to increase and sustain their income.

Farmers’ Learnings:

I have learnt about farming of spreading tomato varieties in tunnel. I will practice this farming technique at my own field by making tunnels with available wooden logs to generate maximum revenue in scarce water conditions. I appreciate the efforts of Community World Service Asia for providing this learning opportunity to explore innovative crop production technologies.


Ishtaq Ahmed from Muhammad Ali Patafi village in Khair Pur Gambo, Badin, Sindh

I was excited to see the different high yielding varieties of vegetables and more contented to learn that we can get quality seeds of these vegetable at our door step at very reasonable prices.I am thankful to the livelihoods team for linking us to these national level institutes. We can learn much more in future for better and updated agricultural practices for productive outcomes.


Khalique Zaman from Ghulam Hussian Lail village in UC Pangrio, Badin, Sindh


This project is co-funded by the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) and Presbyterian World Service & Development (PWS&D). Special thanks to the government of Canada for supporting this project.