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In Pakistan, national organizations are playing a vital role in pushing for social development agendas by actively complementing the work of the government, media and other stakeholders towards achieving the ultimate goal of creating a progressive society. To do this and to effectively contribute to the country’s social and economic progress, it is necessary for civil society organizations (CSOs) to be equipped with the required knowledge and strong influencing skills.

As a key activity of Community World Service Asia’s Capacity Enhancement Project, a training on “Influencing for positive change” for local and national level organizations was organized to strengthen the skills and technical ability of CSO staff to implement advocacy and awareness raising projects and engage communities in the process more effectively.

The training was a five-day course and took place in Murree with a daily attendance of twenty-four participants representing five different national non-profit organizations.

Aftab Ahmed Awan, is a humanitarian professional with more than 15 years’ of experience in strategic direction, development and implementation of organizational policies and frameworks and resource mobilization, facilitated the sessions. Natasha Sajjad, Policy Advocacy & Influencing Specialist, co-facilitated along with Aftab.

Along the five-day course, participants learnt to differentiate between influencing and networking and were introduced to new and most effective tools and approaches applied to tasks and activities linked to influence.

To enhance participants’ knowledge on developing a strategic approach towards policy engagement and its communication, participants were engaged in designing real campaigns for social change through policy reforms. Through this exercise, they practically learnt new skills and approaches applied to “influencing” for successful campaigns.

Some of the participating organizations wanted to develop new skills to effectively implement their projects that involved activities that required influencing policymakers and overcome challenges of communication and monitoring campaigns through this training. Most of these participants were well satisfied with what they learnt as the trainer shared different tactics to utilize and overcome challenges faced during campaigns. Action plans for future campaigns were developed by participants and were to be further refined with their teams in their respective offices. As a follow up of the training, participants were offered technical support post-training to ensure finalization of action plans.

Participants’ Voices:

Ali Anwar, Program Officer MEAL, LASOONA

“Having the experience of a number of trainings, this training came out to be different and significant in terms of content, methodology and management. The topics were linked to our work and provided a good experience. The training was quite interactive and allowed an open platform for transparent learning from all participants’ experiences.”

Ishrat, Team Leader, Peace & Development organization

“Working directly with community becomes challenging at times. This training provided technical solutions to overcome the challenges and influence the people through effective campaigns. It provided in-depth knowledge on different aspects such as design, power analysis of stakeholders, setting goals and objectives, developing key messages and choosing the right medium for communication. The participatory approach adopted in the workshop allowed equal engagement of participants.”

Hassan Jamil, Monitoring Officer, The Punjab Educational Endowment Fund (PEEF)

“Attending the workshop was a very interesting experience.  I had a mixed opinion of the development sector, prior to this workshop. This workshop developed an optimistic view of humanitarian work and refined my knowledge for bringing a positive change in the society we live in. The interaction with experienced humanitarian professionals helps me build a clear understanding of running successful campaigns and influencing people to work for the progress of underprivileged societies.”

Group photo of Participants with EVC Team and Sofia Noreen in Mirpurkhas.

Community World Service Asia, through its networks and alliances, continuously seeks new and effective ways to maximize program impact, by utilizing the influence and ideas of specialized experts, including government officials, consultants, civil society workers, media personnel and academia,  who can make a difference.

By partnering with government departments, we assist vulnerable communities to work together on shared goals and actions. Our teams use this network of partnerships to encourage different communities to work towards bringing change, improve their lives and that of others.

To strengthen these partnerships and collaborations, two trainings, each of one day, were organized with government departments in Sindh.  Representatives from various departments such as the Social Welfare team, Women Development, Police, Education, Health, District Councils, and Population welfare teams were trained in a series of information sharing and capacity strengthening sessions on Gender laws and mainstreaming in districts Umerkot and Mirpurkhas in April this year. The trainings focused on enhancing Women’s Empowerment through increasing knowledge on and implementation of Gender Related Policies and Laws for the various line departments.

Sofia Noreen, a consultant with over 27 years of professional experience in research, programme designing and execution, monitoring, international development and liaison & coordination, facilitated the sessions.  Having practical experience on work around gender, women empowerment and governance, she had many interesting examples and exercises to share with the group of participants to ensure effective learning.

The training sessions were designed to enhance engagement and interaction among participants, while providing them sufficient space to share their personal experiences and professional learnings. By the end of the training, participants understood the role of social institutions in formation of gender roles and impact of gender roles towards gender discrimination in accessing nutrition, health, education, income/resources and decision-making forums at all levels. Participants were able to identify and differentiate between the various roles each official and department had to play towards development and gender mainstreaming considering the Gender Development Index and Gender Empowerment measures.

The training was very relevant to our field of work. The training introduced the patriarchy system and how it plays an important role in assigning different roles, keeping in view the gender perspective,” shared Saroop Chand, Assistant Director Social Welfare, Umerkot.

Group exercises, individual reflections, role plays and presentations highlighted Pakistani and Sindhi women’s status of empowerment on education, health, income and decision-making. To further enhance the participants knowledge, some sessions focused on teaching basic definitions, frameworks, policies and laws relevant to the governing various sectors.

I mostly decline training proposals I receive. However, the agenda of this training was quite appealing and relevant to my work. Sofia stressed on implementing the existing laws and policies in the country. Through proper implementation, we can omit the gender difference in every field of life and encourage empowerment of both men and women equally for the betterment of our society,” positively expressed Afroza Chohan, Incharge Women Complaint Cell, Mirpurkhas and Umerkot.

An exercise on clarifying the difference between gender and sex was one of the key topics of one of the sessions. Key institutions, such as family, academia, peer groups, religious institutes and media that play a vital role in establishing societal gender roles were identified as well. “On basis of these roles, some sections of society are given powerful status within societal structures while others are considered subordinate and subjugated. Hence, it is important to emphasize on the difference between gender and sex,” shared Sofia Noreen.

“The content of the training was unique and informative. I was unaware of many of the laws and policies related to Gender but this experience built a strong perspective towards women empowerment. The training stressed on how the process of socialization shapes our thoughts and actions and at which level one needs to work on changing the unjust mindsets,” said Junaid Mirza, Assistant Director Social Welfare, Mirpurkhas.

Social Mobilization is considered key towards ensuring a participatory approach in rural development and poverty alleviation programs. It aims to create a sense of ownership among communities by involving them directly in decision-making processes. Civil society organizations apply social mobilization to raise awareness, motivate people to bring change and to organize communities to take ownership of project interventions.

Under its Capacity Enhancement Program, Community World Service Asia offers a variety of learning and skill enhancement opportunities to support the growth of non-governmental, civil society, and community-based organizations in Pakistan. These initiatives aim to strengthen the capacity of all the stakeholders involved in humanitarian and development assistance to effectively advocate for the communities with which they work.

Acknowledging the strong need and positive impact of effective social mobilization, a four-day residential workshop on Essentials of Social Mobilization was organized under the program at Peshawar University’s social work department. The training was open to community mobilizers, social organizers, coordinators and team leads of medium to small local and national NGOs.

A total of twenty-four participants from seven different organizations and the university’s own social work department took part in this training that focused on strengthening participants’ understanding of social mobilization as an approach and to furnish them with skills and tools for its effective application and implementation.

Emphasis on the Do No Harm approach for community development was placed among other topics such as social mobilization policy & procedures, significance of community engagement, and sustainability of development work. The training also covered technical aspects such as basic communication skills, ethics, successful community mobilization tools, managing power dynamics and conflict management that are essential to ensure the inclusion, ownership, well-being and human dignity of the communities in need.

Some participating organizations, who did not previously have a social mobilization policy, planned to develop one soon after the training and included it as a high-priority task in their upcoming organizational work plans.

All participating organizations devised six-month action plans to include and implement learnings of the social mobilization training, with assistance of the training facilitators, in their program interventions and organizational development targets.

Participants’ Learning

The participatory learning approach was the highlight of the training for me. The Do no harm approach, role plays and activities were interesting and new for us. The session on social mobilization policy and its link with sustainability was very effective for local organizations like ours.

Sajjad, Lasoona Organization, Swat, KPK.

The training content was very informative and the methodology and quality were good too. I learnt new concepts such as the do no harm approach and the role of connectors and dividers in communities. The overall environment of the training was positive and productive. All participants got equal opportunities to engage.

Shahmer Ali, The Awakening Organization, Charsadda 

The training was quite relevant to our work experience in the field. The methodology of the training was effective and there was a lot of practical learning through group activities and discussions with other participants.

Mussarat, representative from Lasoona Organization, Swat, KPK

Two in-house orientation sessions for forty-four staff members on Training Evaluation Methodology, Complaint Response Mechanisms and Theory of change (ToC) were conducted by our MEAL unit in Umerkot this February. The day-long orientations[1] aimed at developing ToC documents for new projects together with participating staff members, strengthen their capacity on CRM and introduce them to new and simple evaluations process, tools and methodologies.

Revising Evaluation Methodologies

Program teams of CWSA have been evaluating trainings conducted under the various thematic areas that the organization works in through a variety of approaches and tools in the past. During these evaluations, certain gaps were identified in the existing methodologies applied which lead to incomplete information and to an extent challenges in measuring project impact. To address this gap, CWSA’s MEAL unit revised the organization’s evaluation and monitoring system and planned thorough orientations of it to different program teams so that a common methodology is consistently applied through all projects and division of responsibilities, through the process, is clarified among all relevant staff members.

During the orientation,  the guidelines of the methodology and its process flowchart was discussed with all participants in detail and the development of the Learning Outcome form to measure training objectives was explained. Participants were briefed on the standardization of a training evaluation methodology and the learning outcome form within the organization.

This new form (Learning outcome) has been designed to identify between four to six learning outcomes from the objectives of each training. The form will be completed by every training participants at the pre and post stage, resulting in a systematic comparison of the participants learning before and after a training conducted by CWSA. The previous forms used by the training teams included lengthy questions that were not reflecting the training objectives or provide a clear learning impact.

It is good that some responsibilities are shared among different departments for this new training evaluation methodology and we will definitely get support from MEAL Unit”. Shahab Anjum, Program Coordinator, exclaimed.

Reinforcing Complaint Response Mechanisms

There was a need for a detailed orientation on CRM as new staff are recruited under CWSA’s latest Drought Response and Emergency Food Relief projects[2] in the Sindh province. This was also a good opportunity for existing staff to receive a refresher course on CRM as it is vital for our accountability processes to the communities we serve.

In the session on CRM, staff was oriented on the different procedures and channel processes of lodging and addressing complaints. These included complaints made internally, by CWSA employees and consultants, and externally, by community members, vendors and partnering organizations. Participants were thoroughly oriented on the complaint form with each being provided a hard copy for review and input.

Staff members raised questions on the timelines set for responding to complaints, processes of logging and redress and conditions of appeal, which were all addressed and carefully explained by the MEAL team.

Older staff members shared their experiences of receiving and responding to complaints on different occasions of projects’ deliverance processes which was important learning for newer employees.

Initially the complaint boxes were rarely used by project participants. As their learning grew, they started to share their hurdles with us. This has built trust in the communities we work in as we aim to address the issues timely,” shared Lata Kumari Khatri, Enterprise Development Officer.

Introducing Theory of Change (ToC)

The session on Theory of Change took the last slot in the day-long orientation session but was the most labour intensive and engaging for the participants. Taking the format of a mini workshop, the session focused on the concept and purpose of ToC and its significance in the successful evaluation of projects.

The task of planning and carrying out evaluation research that provides information on the fieldwork practices and lessons learnt in general is a challenge.  Within the wider TOC framework, logic or outcomes models were identified to be very closely related, often being used to take a more narrowly practical look at the relationship between inputs and results.

The approach of ToC was explained briefly with the inclusion of its difference from Logical Framework Approach (LFA) and other project progress tracking documents. Participants reviewed how Theory of Change allows staff members to see the bigger picture, including issues related to the environment or social contexts that you cannot control. During the session, the staff learnt of all the different pathways that might lead to change, even if those pathways are not related to each of their program.

Participants were divided in groups of two to develop their own ToC document for the projects they are directly engaged in. A sample of an ideal ToC was shared with them for reference prior the activity.

By the end of the sessions, participating staff members developed specific skills on integrating ToC in organizational planning and evaluation processes.

We learned a different perspective to view our project proceedings and outcomes. This tool will be very useful in guiding teams to maximize inputs in bringing greater change through the projects we work on,” expressed Sardar Shah, Project Officers.

[1] The orientation was divided into two sessions so that the group is divided into 22 participants each and a session each is dedicated to each group.

[2] Financially supported by Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan, & Canadian Foodgrains Bank

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The learnings acquired through the Organizational Management (OM) training, followed by constant mentoring and coaching helped us in improving our organizational practices and processes. We can confidently share our learnings and improved policies and practices with other progressing national or local organizations,

shared, the thirty-nine-year-old, Anwar Ul Haq, who has been engaged in the humanitarian sector since the last fifteen years. He is currently employed with LASOONAⁱ as Manager Program Development.

The key themes of the training, such as Organizational Sustainability and Strategic Planning particularly interested Anwar as he was applying for this training.

In addition, the training cost was minimal as compared to the quality of training contents and trainer’s profile. For local organizations having meagre financial resources, this was an excellent opportunity. My colleagues have attended other trainings organized by Community World Service Asia (CWSA) as well and they were quite pleased with the learning. They encouraged me to apply for this training.

Anwar recalls that the training not only enhanced his understanding of the key concepts and best practices related to organizational management but also provided him and other participants an opportunity to interact with similar professional belonging to diversified cultural and geographic backgrounds. This was enriching for them in terms of cross-cultural learning and exposure.

Most of the participants were holding senior management positions in civil society organizations and their contribution during group works helped us understand the complex issues pertaining to organizational management and how it links to our work.”

According to Anwar, one of the training’s unique aspects was the pre-training exercise conducted with all participants, seeking their reflection and feedback on the training content being designed for them.

Our feedback on the agenda was incorporated. This way the content of the training became very relevant to our day-to-day work and processes.

The four-day training not only enhanced Anwar’s capacity in the art of planning and increased his organizational communication skills but also strengthened his human resource management skills, which is considered crucial for an organization’s sustainability.

Soon after the training, its learnings were applied at the organizational level at LASOONA to improve its systems and processes. One of the key implementations was the development of LASOONA’s first ever Capacity Development Plan (CDP) for all its staff.

The CDP is under implementation through existing resources and shared with like-minded donors for additional technical and financial support. After six months of the first training, CWSA team organized a two-day refresher session for all its participants. In the session, support was extended to identify targets set in CDP.  Realizing the importance of a strategic communication and media management, our senior management has also developed a media and communication strategy as well as a knowledge management strategy for the organization. This has also been prioritized in our annual plan for 2019,

quoted Anwar positively.

The CDP is under implementation through existing resources and shared with like-minded donors for additional technical and financial support. After six months of the first training, CWSA team organized a two-day refresher session for all its participants. In the session, support was extended to identify targets set in CDP.  Realizing the importance of a strategic communication and media management, our senior management has also developed a media and communication strategy as well as a knowledge management strategy for the organization. This has also been prioritized in our annual plan for 2019,

quoted Anwar positively.

LASOONA’s Human Resource department has also revamped its performance appraisal system by shifting to the competency-based appraisal under which performance indicators in job descriptions are applied to measure performance.

The staff is pleased with the progress as it has helped to understand the criteria of job promotion and at the same time, it is promoting transparency in information sharing amongst employees.

Anwar works closely with the Human Resource, Finance and Organizational development departments at his organization. Based on Anwar’s insight from the training, LASOONA is planning to conduct an Analysis to assess its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) for its program evaluation. This evaluation will aid in strengthening the organization’s strategic plan.

With the increasing operational restrictions, civil society organizations in the country are currently facing survival issues. These trainings support us in ensuring our sustainability of organizations and effectively utilizing our existing resources and capacities efficiently.


ⁱ(LASOONA) Society for Human & Natural Resource Development is a national, multi-disciplinary, development focused, non-profit organization.

As Media Coordinator, my main responsibilities include management, editing and publishing the visibility material of AWAREⁱ. My team and I also provide coverage to program teams across the five districts that AWARE is working in the Sindh province. Till date, we have published a number of press releases, organizational reports and updates of project activities,

 shared Abdul Karim.

Employed at AWARE since 2015, Abdul Karim has provided communications support to the organization’s projects being implemented in the five districts of Umerkot, Tharparkar, Tando Muhammad Khan, Badin and Tando Allahyaar.

We publish news articles in local newspapers. We also use social media as a popular platform to exhibit our work and publications. Different groups on WhatsApp about project activity updates are also formed with community members, district stakeholders and government officials, giving immediate visibility to our work,

added Abdul Karim.

Shewaram, Program Manager at AWARE, however felt that there was still a need for more effective visibility of their projects.

Under our various thematic areas such as gender sensitization, education and water sanitation, our project teams are doing a lot of work but it is usually not represented as successfully. We were not able to deliver the right messages and promote our work the way it should be, 

commented Shewaram.

Despite having an official website and a Facebook page, Shewaram consistently advocated for improved program and organizational visibility within AWARE. He believed that the relevant teams at their organization needed to strengthen their capacity on utilizing the platforms more strategically.

We have 2000 followers on Facebook. To engage and increase this followers’ number, I felt we needed to have more updates on all our external platforms. We were unaware of proper strategy building on social media and other platforms in order to publish our news/updates. Who is our target audience? Are they decision-makers or community people or stakeholders? All these questions needed to be addressed and thought of. This is why we nominated Abdul Karim to participate in the Advocacy for Change training organized by Community World Service Asia in Mirpurkhas in May last year (2018).

Training Experience:

Abdul Karim was excited about the training and held high expectations about his learnings from it. He wanted to learn about new advocacy tools and guidelines on developing successful visibility campaigns.

This training was an opportunity to learn more about advocating and publishing effectively. To increase our digital presence, we needed the knowledge and technical skills of advocacy and digital communications.

Through the training, Abdul Karim and other participants learnt about the advocacy planning cycle.

To strategize for effective advocacy, we learnt to be flexible and be able to adjust our plans to changing circumstances. The training helped us understand that advocacy is a repetitive process; with ongoing monitoring and review, the plan can be updated and adjusted according to the different reactions perceived from the target audience. The contexts in which we work are unpredictable and often changing, and we need to be able to respond accordingly,

 shared Abdul Karim.

Twenty-four participants from 14 organizations participated in this training to enhance their digital marketing and campaigning skills.

We learnt how to develop, refine and deliver potent and productive messages. The group exercise on advocacy strategy building allowed building a good understanding on the practicalities of resourcing, implementing and monitoring an advocacy plan.

Abdul Karim also built his knowledge on effective media engagement techniques.

The mock interview session with media and the activity on preparing a press release taught us strategic utilization of media which will help in creating a favourable environment for change.

Way Forward:

After the training, Abdul Karim shared key points of the advocacy planning cycle with his team at AWARE and informed them of the many media engagement and resource mobilization techniques for advocacy that he learnt.

The Twitter account of our organization was not actively used as we did not understand how to manage it very well before. At the training, we learnt how to use Twitter as a tool for campaigning and advocacy. It taught us how to deliver strong messages and tag relevant stakeholders, followers and government officials to our posts for an increased impact, 

quoted Abdul Karim.

Since the training, we have launched two campaigns in collaboration with Oxfam Pakistan on twitter. Our communications team uploaded powerful messages on girls’ education and tax justice. This twitter campaign emphasized on amending education laws and increasing awareness on the importance of girls’ education. Relevant government departments and officials were tagged in the posts. We also shared this with our WhatsApp group members and requested them to retweet, ‘like’ and comment on our posts for mass coverage. Within an hour, the messages were retweeted several times. We received positive feedback from a large group of people on twitter, 

narrated Shewaram. Through the campaigns, important issues reached relevant government departments, demanding a call for action from them.

Engagement on AWARE’s official Facebook page has increased noticeably and the page now features more regular updates. The organization’s webpage is also frequently updated and receives more traffic now.

Organizational documentaries and videos were only uploaded on Vimeo before. Now, while we have launched a YouTube account and post all our videos on that as well. This has increased our visibility a lot. We now cater to a larger viewership, who appreciate our work and share feedback with us. Our teams confidently approach government officials to liaise and hold meetings with decision and policy makers. They work through a proper channel. Moreover, our higher management team is also appearing on talk shows and participating in policy amendment processes which has increased the impact of our work,

concluded Shewaram positively.

ⁱ The Association for Water, Applied Education & Renewable Energy.

Group photo of the training participants with Zaigham Khan and the Community World Service Asia Team.

Theory of Change (ToC) is a powerful tool that helps organizations and initiatives plan how they will achieve change, assess their effectiveness and communicate to stakeholders. Growing in popularity over the last decade, the international development community (practitioners and donors alike) shows great interest in using ToC for organizational planning, implementation and monitoring purpose. The national level organizations also showed interest in learning and applying ToC at their organization level. ToC help facilitate better planning to ensure that activities are linked to a detailed understanding of how change actually happens.

To help CSOs in Pakistan to learn the approach of and the method to apply ToC in their organizations, Community World Service Asia organized a 4-day training at Punjab University, Lahore from November 20 – 23, 2018. Zaigham Khan, a renowned development professional, facilitated the 4-day workshop. Twenty-five participants from 10 organization attended the workshop.

The training enabled participating organizations in identifying steps for long-term impact and strategic planning and facilitated for sequencing of theory of change approach. The participants reviewed their organizational strategy using theory of change approach and learnt the use of ToC to enhance accountability and learning. In addition, they acquired the skill of integrating ToC into their organization’s planning, monitoring and evaluation processes if future.

Voices of the Participants:

Being a technical training, Zaigham made this training very rewarding and enjoyable. I learned a lot from this training and will try my best to improve further and train other staff in my organization on this. I want to express my gratitude for our facilitator for his outstanding way of articulation, knowledge and providing such a friendly learning environment.”

Muhammad Ayoub from Aga Khan Agency for Habitat

“We acquired the skills of integrating ToC into our organization’s planning, monitoring and evaluation processes. Zaigham has been an outstanding resource person throughout the workshop and will prove to be more useful in future because of his availability and willingness to provide technical assistance after the workshop.”

Basil Dogra, Center for Law & Justice

“Interactive discussion and practical group activities made learning more interesting and productive. The difference between the ToC and Log Frame was made clear in this training. I am grateful to Community World Service Asia to provide such an opportunity which will be beneficial for our organization in the long-run.”

Kiran Yochbed from Taangh Wasaib Organization

“I am grateful to be given this opportunity to learn Theory of Change. I learned the current practices of ToC and how to design community development projects. I am now able to connect ToC to the log frame for Monitoring & Evaluation. This training has enabled me to see the project activities from a different and broader level.”

Nadeem Matto from Pak Mission Society

“This 4-day training was very interesting and beneficial for my organization as a whole. The training was conducted with a participatory approach including practice, sharing, discussions and group work. Our facilitator was well-versed and attended all our queries effectively. I hope to implement the learning in my work to bring positive results for community development.”

Bushra Malik Forum for Language Initiatives

“I am working in the NGO sector for the past twenty years. This workshop has proved to be very useful in my field of work. The knowledge of ToC tools has enabled me to develop effective projects. Zaigham Khan has been very patient and helpful throughout the training.”

Josna Azeem from Christian Women’s Development Association

A group photo of training participants with the resource person, Syed Ali Moazzam and the team of Community World Service Asia.

What is social mobilization? Social mobilization is the primary step of community development for recovery from conflicts and disasters. It allows people to think and understand their situation and to organize and initiate action for their recovery with their own initiative and creativity[1]. Through mobilization, people can organize themselves to take action collectively by developing their own plan and strategy for recovery rather than being imposed from outside. It is essential to understand the basic idea of social mobilization and its uses before practically implementing it.

Advocating the mobilization and participation of communities at all levels of project interventions, Community World Service Asia recognizes that project and field staff in the humanitarian and development sector must be equipped with adequate skills and expertise on how to interact with communities and build relations of long-lasting trust with them. To further this cause, Community World Service Asia, held and conducted a four-day training on “Essentials of Social Mobilization” for local level organizations in Murree, Pakistan, in early August. Twenty-seven participants from ten organizations participated in this training.

The training introduced the various social mobilization skills required to motivate communities to bring about positive and sustainable changes in their society by building opinion on social issues. The opportunities and challenges faced by development workers were outlined and skills were enhanced on communication, conflict resolution, decision-making and problem solving to work more effectively with communities.  The training elaborated on organizational policies to ensure inclusion of the marginalized segment of society especially to promote women participation in all processes of social mobilization. Participants developed skills to devise organizational strategies by engaging people to take ownership of their issues and resolve them by using local resources.

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. In the needs assessment, most of the participants showed interest in learning how to draft social mobilization strategies, using Participatory Rapid Assessment (PRA) tools, practicing effective communication skills, conflict resolution and how to identify local issues to advocate for social change. They also expressed an interest in enhancing their leadership skills to ensure effective social mobilization and women participation in the development process.

Once the participants for the training were finalized, they were included in all processes of the training design; from conceptualization to designing and activity planning. A training baseline survey was also conducted to learn about participating organizations’ policies, strategies and programs related to social mobilization and understand their organizational limitations and priorities.

Practicing the blended learning approach, the participants were divided in groups and given assignments. This exercise gave them the opportunity to learn by sharing experiences. A panel discussion was also held in which specialists selected from among the groups, with relevant experience, highlighted issues pertaining to lack of women empowerment. 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.

Key Learnings

The session on Participatory Rapid Assessment (PRA) allowed knowledge building on PRA tools including Focus Group Discussion, Key Informant Interview (KII), Social Mapping, Seasonal Calendar and transect walk. In a group activity, participants were divided in two teams. Both teams were assigned to work on different PRA tools. Team A worked on the transect walk, social mapping and KII, while team B’s task was to work on drafting a seasonal calendar by interviewing local people and conducting FGDs with a selected group of people. The teams performed actively and presented their work. The resource person identified some gaps and explained the tools for further clarity.

Another major need highlighted by the social mobilizers was to learn about the strategies and skills to overcome conflicts, communicate effectively in the community, enhance skills for effective conflict resolution, and trust building among communities.

Through adopting  various interactive learning methodologies, participants identified the many challenges faced regarding power dynamics, balanced inclusion and participation while working in the community and learnt how to overcome those through conflict management, conflict resolution, effective communication strategies and different styles of leadership according to situations and people needs.

Muhammad Taj, with 25 years of extensive experience working with Sungi Development Foundation on social mobilization, shared his practical experiences and strategies to motivate people and communities to realize challenges and try to resolve their issues collaboratively with the support of local organizations. The training facilitator further encouraged participants to work on devising policies and strategies on social mobilization and provide guidelines to field workers on how to mobilize people to speak about their issues and work together with them on realizing their basic fundamental rights.

Steps ahead

Participants developed organizational action plans, chalking out the roadmap for implementing the learnings of the training. They plan to share their respective action plans with their organizations.

[1] UN Habitat

It’s August 19th[1], and it is time for us to celebrate and recognize the brave souls who risk their lives in the in the way of humanity.  These individuals put those in need before themselves irrespective of the dangers and adversities they may face in the process. This World Humanitarian Day, as celebrated globally, builds on the momentum of the #NotATarget campaign spearheaded by the UN and followed by the global humanitarian community last year.

Each one of us has the ability to inspire others to do good; may it be through our words or through our actions. Some of us inspire people more than others and touch the lives of those around them with positivity, care and endless empathy. Today, we share stories of some of the most inspiring and relentless humanitarian workers we know.

Shahida Sarwar, in the field of humanitarian response and rehabilitation since 2006, has passionately been working for the progress of the local communities in her hometown of Mansehra. Shahida has committed all her energy and time into ensuring she provides the best and most accountable emergency relief services as well skill development opportunities to the people she serves so that they can benefit from being equipped with sustainable livelihoods. Shahida is currently employed with Helping Hand for Relief and Development, an NGO working in Pakistan.

Recalling one of her more traumatizing experiences in her professional life, Shahida said,

 I was working for World Vision in District Mansehra in 2010. We were working on an emergency response project for local communities. On a Wednesday morning, ten unknown masked men attacked the World Vision office. I lost seven colleagues that day. I was among the injured and got seven stitches on my forehead. We were left helpless, traumatized and frightened. This incident did not break my courage and motivation towards helping others. Taking this incident as a gift of a second life, I stood up strong again and was even more determined than ever to help and work with the underprivileged children, women and men in the area. As a social mobilizer today, I believe I have a vital role of conveying the message of humanity and that humanitarian workers are #NotATarget. We are here to help, not harm anyone. The smiles I see in the communities I work with makes me feel honored and content.
This humanitarian day, my message is that we all need to join hands with humanitarian workers working endlessly around the globe to foster empowerment, prosperity and help improve the lives of those in need.

Jhaman Das Parmar, a post-graduate in Sociology, has been working in the development sector in Sindh since 2012.

I have been working with various local and national organizations in Taluka[1] Chachro, Tharparkar district. Helping communities in Tharparkar is my motivation to work.

Sharing one of his experiences, Jhaman said,

In Kankayo village of Taluka Chachro, the community was very conservative and rigid with organizations who came to help people in the village. This was due to many prevailing myths and misunderstanding about the role of NGOs in the region. Many of these communities faced innumerable social and economic challenges including malnutrition, night blindness, illiteracy and limited access to appropriate healthcare, especially for women. Working as a Social mobilizer with AWARE, I was determinate to bring change in Kankayo. When I first visited the area, the villagers clearly refuse to talk to me and stopped me from entering their village.

Jhaman decided to start his work from a small neighborhood, whose people were more welcoming and progressive as compared to the other nearby villages.

The neighborhood had seven homes where I initially held meetings. I explained the importance of water schemes and education of children to the residents of these households. The elders in the neighborhood realized that I was not coming to them for my interest, but to make progressive development in their village. After three months of frequent meetings, the elders approached the village people about the changes I spoke about. Being influential figures, the elders were able to convince the villagers to allow AWARE to work in their village for their development. Our team, including myself, held sessions and implemented project interventions. We set up Solar Powered Water Schemes and constructed schools, equipped with furniture, good infrastructure and computers in the village. Today, that village is considered as a model village and other villages have themselves requested for our organization’s assistance.
On this humanitarian day, my message is to pledge to help others without fearing hurdles.”

Nadia Riasat, Senior Program Officer at Community World Service Asia, shared her experience of facing hurdles while working on an aid distribution project.

 Working as Program Coordinator on Adult Basic Education Society (ABES) in district Mianwali of Punjab, we provided aid assistance to the victims of floods in the years 2010, 2011 and 2014. Communities were forced to leave their homes with limited belongings. These communities lived in camps with limited access to clean water, sufficient food, proper healthcare and hygienic environment. Through our emergency relief projects, we provided aid assistance to these vulnerable communities. All the project staff assembled the food and non-food items according to the number of beneficiaries shortlisted. Only my male colleagues went to the communities for aid distribution. Many of my fellow humanitarian workers were often mobbed during the aid distribution, as the number of expected project participants present would exceed the initial anticipated number. Some of my colleagues would return with minor injuries and ripped clothes. Humanitarian workers have faced various incidents of intentional or unintentional violence in this part of the world. Despite these challenges, we do not stop helping the people in need, as we know their needs are far greater than the risks we face.
Today, I call out to support all humanitarian workers who are working for the benefit of vulnerable communities by putting their lives at risk. Let’s pledge to be part of this chain and continue to work with commitment to help and save others.

Humanitarian aid is, at its best, a reflection of the notion that whatever our differences and disagreements, people can still recognize and affirm each other’s fundamental humanity. Aid workers put their lives on the line not to exert political leverage but to practice humanity by helping those in need, irrespective of their class, creed, gender, race or religion.

[1] The UN general assembly designated 19 August as World Humanitarian Day (WHD), in memory of the 22 colleagues killed in the 2003 bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad

[1] A tehsil (or taluka) is an administrative sub-division of a District.