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Siddique suffers a financial blow

It was agonizing for William Siddique to borrow money from someone to keep his little grocery shop operational and restocked. He had never felt the need to do that before since his shop had always been running successfully, providing him a comfortable income. That is of course, before the coronavirus outbreak hit Pakistan.

Thirty-four years old Siddique lives in Latifabad, which is a housing community that mostly homes the religious minority communities in Hyderabad city of Sindh province. Siddique’s lower limbs were afflicted with polio just months after his birth.

“From a very young age I have lived a difficult life as I felt worthless due to my physically disorder. However, things changed when I started running my own shop in 2012. I was earning a good living for myself. This independency restored my sense of being,” said Siddique.

Ever since the COVID-19 spread rapidly in the country and a lockdown was imposed, the shop has been running low on supplies and Siddique has had insufficient resources to restock the shop.

“The government has eased the lockdown now and shops have started to re-open, following protective protocols. I had to borrow PKR 40,000 (Approx. USD 249) to purchase the most popularly bought products to restock in my shop. I now have to worry about repaying this debt.”

Siddique walks on his hands due to his disability and rarely uses a wheelchair when going out.

“I enjoyed my time in the shop as some friendly customers would spend some time chatting with me. Also, my friends took me for outings and rides on their bikes which felt really good. We have not been able to do anything of that due to the lockdown.”

Siddique’s father, Shafiq Masih, works at the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation as a sanitation worker while his mother Anayatan Bibi, works as a domestic helper in some houses in Hyderabad city.

“In the last 10 months, the Corporation has not paid wages to sanitation workers, which is why we have been in a financial crunch. Moreover, my mother also lost her job as three of the houses that my mom worked at asked her to stop coming due to the lockdown. She has not been paid since then either.”

When Siddique was 14 years old he got admission at Hayat-e-Nau (New Life), a Rehabilitation Centre for Disabled Children located nearby.

“The Centre spent two years teaching me survival skills, including how to read and write and how to interact with people,” Siddique recalls fondly.

In this case, Siddique has been lucky since not every person with disability is fortunate enough to get such an opportunity. The National Policy for Disabled Persons was formulated in 2002 and a National Plan of Action (NPA) in 2006. However, that has still not been able to ensure the education and employment of many people with disabilities in the country.

Visually impaired, Zain Khan, struggles with social distancing and online-learning

Considering the implications of COVID-19, social distancing for people with disability, especially for the blind, like 24-year old Zain Khan, has presented a whole new set of challenges. Khan is a rights activist, a student, and a TV show host on the web-based channel Belonging to Bahawalpur and studying MSc in Development Studies at the University of the Punjab’s Lahore campus, Khan is frequently traveling hundreds of miles between the cities.

“I have traveled to many cities and countries on my own. I move around independently but sometimes I need someone to accompany me,” shares Khan. “However, with the current scenario, implementing social distancing in practice is becoming a big challenge for me.”

The youngest of three brothers, Khan’s father passed away few months before his birth. His mother and two brothers have raised him with utmost love and care. He is smartly using a talking software on his touchscreen phone and Job Access with Speech (JAWS) for the laptop.

“The Brail language is useful during school but at college and university level we use technologies like JAWS to provide us help. During the lockdown, it is difficult to communicate in the same way.”

On his own, Khan is actively engaged in private, non-governmental initiatives for disabled people. Pakistan Para-climbing Club and School of Inclusion are two such institutes that he is part of.

“In June, there was a meeting of youth leaders in Sweden and I was to participate in it. But now the program is being conducted through online webinars. Also, my university has started online classes. The JAWS software helps a lot but seems technology yet needs to improve further and people like me need to be even more tech-savvy after the outbreak of coronavirus.”

The Masih siblings survive a lonely lockdown without a means of income

Only four kilometers away from Siddique’s shop is St. Paul Christian Colony in Hyderabad. This is also an urban slum similar to Latifabad. Here live siblings, Shabana Bibi, 30-year-old and her brother Saleem Masih, 20 years. The two siblings are suffering a different kind of challenge than Khan and Siddique.

Shabana was physically impaired due to active polio at the age of 2 years and Saleem started experiencing mental health challenges around the time he completed high school. Shabana and Saleem live alone in their house as their mother passed away ten years ago, followed by their father three years later. Their father worked as a sanitation worker at the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation.  Their other three siblings live separately in their own houses.

“I used to sew clothes to make some money but now my eyesight has gone weak and I cannot carry on with this work. Our only income now is my father’s pension of 10,000 rupees (roughly US $65) a month but since this lockdown, I have not been able to go to the bank,” Shabana shares. “I don’t let my brother go out alone. Even when there is a need to buy something, I go along with him. So, I could not send him to the bank either.”

The Sindh government had been very active in managing COVID-19. Although there were reservations about the lack of provision of food to the poorest communities amidst the lockdown. In mid-April, the St. Francis Xavier Cathedral of Hyderabad had a food distribution in the area.

“We survived with the food assistance from the church; otherwise, we would have starved to death by now,” shared Shabana.

Shabana and Saleem are currently living alone in complete quarantine due to the lockdown.

“Other family members used to visit us almost every week but due to the lockdown, my brother and I are left almost alone because no one comes to meet us now.”

Photo Credit: Sun/Fayaz Moosa

The COVID-19 pandemic poses unprecedented challenges to the global humanitarian sector. At a time like this, coordination among governments, the non-profit sector, the civil society and other partners is imperative to ensure that those most affected by the crisis are well supported.

COVID-19 has affected everyone without exception and this is a very unique moment in our history. All of us present today, networks, organisations and individuals, need to ask ourselves what our value addition as humanitarian practitioners is in this difficult time,

said Takeshi Komino – Secretary General, Asian Disaster Reduction and Response Network (ADRRN), while moderating the webinar on ‘Humanitarian Coordination during COVID-19’ that was jointly hosted by Community World Service Asia (CWSA) , International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA), Asian Disaster Reduction and Response Network (ADRRN) and Humanitarian Forum Indonesia (HFI) on June 11th, 2020.

The webinar focused on discussing the impact of the current pandemic on the future of the humanitarian sector and its coordination aspects. During the 90-minutes of the webinar, speakers and participants discussed good practices, challenges, and gained insights of different humanitarian networks and communities working on the ground in response to COVID-19.

Qingrui Huang, Acting Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific at ICVA, Thailand, Hafiz Amirrol, Network Coordinator at ADRRN, Malaysia and Dear NB Sinandang, Communication and Partnership Manager, HFI participated as key speakers in the webinar.

Channeling awareness raising during COVID-19 response

Awareness-raising on COVID-19 in local languages with communities was highlighted as vital for communities to better understand the problem and to take the necessary actions needed to prevent being infected.

Members have come up with effective and innovative ways to interact with communities such as the launch of Covid-19 Car with a voice enhancer. The team travels to remote communities and shares knowledge of Covid-19 with regards to measures that can be taken within households and communities to prevent the spread of the virus,

shared Dear.

Given the possibility that the pandemic can continue for a longer period of time, it is appropriate and necessary to address the actions, skills and capability at both the personal and institutional levels to promote the response of the humanitarian community to the pandemic. Qingrui highlighted the importance of maintaining pre-existing relations as they are key to promote effective and efficient coordination at such a time.

When a country or region is struck by some catastrophe, we cannot establish new partnerships after the tragedy occurs, but rather we establish stronger coordination with our pre-existing partners and stakeholders to participate in joint ventures and remedies. We have also seen donor organisations advocating with their respective governments to provide funding for vulnerable groups and most affected populations.

As well established now, COVID-19 is affecting different people in different ways. Not everyone is affected in the same manner. People with pre-existing weak or complicated health conditions, or the elderly will react to the virus differently than those that are physically healthy and younger in age per se. Therefore, identifying and finding out these pre-existing conditions make all the difference while responding to a unique crisis as such.

This is one of the reason why localisation in mandatory in the Covid-19 response, 

says Takeshi.

Many national and local organisations in the Asian region have adopted innovative advocacy and creative communication activities to best reach and impact the communities they are targeting.

We have seen member organisations engaged in broadcasting health awareness messages, publishing creative infographics and launching videos and short animations,

expressed Hafiz Amirrol,

This pandemic has pushed national and local organisations to do things differently for better risk communications and meaningful localisation. Owing to the reality of restricted travel due to the lockout scenario, we have seen improved localisation leadership. One of the best and effective ways of transferring information and coordination is through the local leaders.

Best Practices on Humanitarian Coordination in COVID-19

As highlighted in ICVA’s introduction, the network’s current work is aligned under its four main focus areas of Forced Migration, Coordination, Financing and Navigating Change, and Covid-19 response. ICVA analyzes and explains new policies, trends and highlights key areas of concern for NGOs to cater to in Covid-19 response. Three briefing papers for Localisation in Covid-19 Global Humanitarian Response have been developed by ICVA recently.

In addition, we are working to influence and advocate by issuing joint NGO statement and collective inputs and feedback on IASC Guidelines such as the Global Humanitarian Response Planning (GHRP) revision process,

shared Qingrui.

Speaking at the webinar, Hafiz Amirrol said,

ADRRN members have been working hard to support people in need at this difficult time and have taken local initiatives to provide health and livelihood support to respective communities. This situation survey documents local initiatives and action taken by ADRRN member organizations in the region in supporting their local and national government to cope with this pandemic. Moreover, ADRRN as a network advocates and promotes the idea of close coordination to the members and consequently we see positive progress of members.  By promoting tangible and intangible knowledge and information, members capture and document experiences of good practices in different formats including print and digital media.

The Humanitarian Forum Indonesia (HFI) has also aligned a series of strategic plans to respond to COVID-19. The forum has initiated coordination and communication with internal members and their networks with the government’s Task Force on COVID-19 Response Acceleration at the national and local level (provincial and city/district level). HFI has also introduced a joint need assessments and networking with strategic partners to hold dialogues with UN agencies, the private sector and donor organisations in order to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable communities in this difficult time. Dear NB further added,

HFI has developed a guideline on Safety and Security of humanitarian workers and volunteers for HFI members and their networks. Media centers have also been set up within members to act as helplines and complaint response mechanisms to cater to the complaints and feedback of the community and the general public.

Participants’ Insights

Humanitarian practitioners attending the webinar were encouraged to share some of their reflections to promote effective coordination during COVID-19 response plans and activities:

  • There is a need to develop policies and strategies for effective and productive education especially for communities with limited access to mobile phones and internet
  • Localisation is important, particularly in terms of better understanding the communities’ culture, geographic profile and trust. International support can provide technical support and resources to local organisations to meet the needs of local communities
  • Digital Platforms have proven to be one of the most effective mediums to engage people and jointly hold interventions to respond to the needs of communities
  • INGOs can play a role in buffering donor compliance requirements and supporting skills, programming and governance gaps that some local NGOs have
  • The collaboration of local actors during the initial days of the pandemic must be valued and those local actors who are already on the ground long before any emergency strikes must be recognized

Facilitated by Karen Janjua and Lia van Broekhoven

When: June 25, 2020
What time: 2:00 PM Pakistan Standard Time
Where: ZOOM – Link to be shared
Language: English
How long: 90 minutes
Format: Presentation & Discussion
Who is it for: Humanitarian and development practitioners who wish to learn more about the impact of counter-terror regulations and policies on their operating environment; including, their capacities to respond to COVID-19?

Speakers: Karen Janjua, Community World Service Asia (CWSA); Lia van Broekhoven, Human Security Collective (HSC)


As a non-profit organization (NPO), explore the impacts of Terror Finance regulations at national and international levels:

  • Is your NGO unable to register with ease?
  • Is your NGO perceived as being “at risk” of being used as a conduit for terrorism financing?
  • Are your day-to-day operations hampered?
  • Are your bank transfers delayed or blocked?

This webinar will help explore:

  • The drivers behind some of the issues you might be facing, which stem from the counter-terrorism and the architecture which countries have constructed countering the financing of terrorism (CFT)
  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and its standards on anti-money-laundering (AML) and countering the financing of terrorism (CFT)
  • The impact of the FATF standards on NPOs, including the unintended consequences
  • How to mitigate the unintended consequences and advocate for a proportional, effective and risk-based approach which does not impede charitable activity in any way (based on country case studies and examples)
  • How the COVID-19 crisis is impacting the already challenging situation


Community World Service Asia and Human Security Collective (HSC) are jointly hosting this webinar on FATF and COVID-19 on June 25th, 2020.

National and international efforts to counter the financing of terrorism, including the policies and regulations formulated at the supra-national level, have had negative consequences on the operational environment of civil society organizations worldwide.  A one-size-fits-all approach to regulations, instead of a risk-based and proportionate implementation of the rules has resulted in humanitarian and development activity being hampered via administrative and financial channels. The Global Non-Profit Organizations (NPO) Coalition on the FATF, of which HSC is co-chair and CWSA a member, has been working for many years on revising the standards and on their effective implementation.

This webinar will outline the standards and detail their impacts, chief among which is the financial exclusion of NPOs. It will then discuss the advocacy that led to important changes in the standards, as well as the ongoing engagements at both international and national levels on issues such as Risk Assessments of the NPO sector and financial inclusion. Country case studies will further illustrate these engagement strategies.

The webinar will aim to deepen an understanding of the structural nature of the drivers of some of the shrinking civic space issues that NPOs face as well as provide engagement and advocacy avenues that are working to alleviate the negative regulatory impacts, going forward. Given that the COVID-19 crisis is only exacerbating some of these challenges, and at a time when humanitarian need is at its peak, it is important to leverage this understanding into mitigating action.

This 90-minute webinar will also be an opportunity to learn from participants on whether they recognize some of the issues outlined and to share best practice, engagement and advocacy strategies tailored for their contexts.

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

Human Security Collective (HSC) is a foundation based in The Hague working on issues of development, security and the involvement of citizens in their communities and societies. We believe that the idea of Human Security with its focus on people, relationships and human rights provides an organizing frame for action. Based on the elements of trust-creation, local ownership, empowerment and collective action, we facilitate conversation between civil society, policy shapers and other actors to promote alternative approaches to current security practice.

Applicants will be informed by 20th June 2020 about their confirmation status. Up to 200 participants will be accommodated on a first come first serve basis. We would appreciate anyone willing to share some best practices on the topic under discussion.

Moderator & Facilitator:

Deputy Regional Director at CWSA and a Board member of ACT Alliance

Karen Janjua

Karen is a Deputy Regional Director at CWSA and a Board member of ACT Alliance.   She has worked extensively with civil society organizations, International organizations and governments across the globe on post-crisis recovery, governance, human rights and democratization. Since 2017, she has focused on civil society sustainability; particularly, engagement with government entities and NGOs in Pakistan to build awareness around the unintended consequences of CFT/AML regulations.


Co-founder and Executive Director of Human Security Collective

Lia van Broekhoven

Lia is the co-founder and Executive Director of Human Security Collective based in The Hague. She is co-chair of a Global Coalition of Nonprofit organization that engages with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global standard-setter on Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Measures to ensure that governments apply the FATF standards adequately and proportionally in relation to terrorism financing risks to avoid negative impacts on civil society.

Photo Credit : DFID – UK

This is a real opportunity to discuss localisation. For many years, local actors have been the first respondents and it is very important in this current pandemic that we now focus on what the key role of local actors is? What have they contributed? How do we go forward from here?

Smruti Patel, Founder and Co-Director of The Global Mentoring Initiatives in Switzerland raised these questions while moderating the webinar on ‘Localisation during COVID-19’ on June 2. Jointly hosted and organised by Community World Service Asia and the Alliance for Empowering Partnerships (A4EP), the 90-minute webinar provided participants a platform to exchange and discuss experiences on how localisation is progressing in the different regions, the challenges it has encountered so far and the way forward to effectively implement it.

Dr. Marie-Noëlle AbiYaghi, Director Lebanon Support, Beirut and Naomi Tulay-Solanke, Founder Executive Director, Community Health Initiative (CHI), Liberia, joined Smruti Patel as speakers in the webinar.

Participants from across the world shared best practices on how they have taken into account the current crisis, including collaborating and advocating for localisation on a national, regional and international level. Forty percent of the participants represented local and national organizations.

A Unique Challenging Context

The COVID-19 pandemic has become the greatest public health issue of our times and is defining the global health crisis today. In comparison to the loss of life and the destruction to millions of families, economic harm from the crisis is now substantial and far-reaching.

The COVID-19 Crisis Response and the Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP) offer incentives to drive momentum on the Grand Bargain commitments and address structural inequities. State and regional civil society organisations have a vital position to play and have been at the center of the response to COVID-19.

We have seen unparalleled support from local organisations, including the response to delivering awareness to their neighbourhoods, supplying food and hygiene kits along with addressing certain core needs. They were at the forefront of the first response. Some have brought these initiatives to their own sponsorship through collecting funds by community members, residents and joint activities, said Smruti.

Regarding constraints on movement and mobility, local and national humanitarian actors are on the forefront of the COVID-19 response, working in places where the risks are highest. Through this response, there has been a significant shift of operational burden to local and national players, in comparison to the normal ‘upsurge’ of international workers in reaction to the crisis. These discussions aimed to capture the views of local and national NGOs and the recommendations from the discussions will contribute to the GHRP revision progress, which takes place after every six weeks.

In 2017, a research of Global Mentoring Initiatives with the START Network developed the seven dimensions of Localisation Framework by engaging local, national and international organisations in discussions highlighting the significant aspects to make localisation successful.

The framework takes a deeper and more critical view of localisation, assessing the quality (not just the quantity) of funding, partnerships and participation, capacity development, and the influence of local and national organisations. It seeks to promote granularity in the sector’s understanding of localisation, in order to foster a holistic approach to addressing it. Steps to make these dimensions a reality:

  • Maintain quality of partnerships and ensure equitability and respect
  • Promote accountability to affected populations and local actors and keeping them at the center is key
  • The quality of funding should be flexible and developed in collaboration with local actors
  • Capacity building activities should be aimed at sustaining the organisations and they should not be undermined by the way the international response takes place
  • It is essential that National & Local actors take leadership in coordination mechanisms to influence decision-making at a broader level
  • Active visibility of response of local actors can build strong trusts among communities
  • Local and national actors need to be present in international policy debates and discussions

The Implementation Gap

There has been a little change. Now we can have a pen discussion on localisation. We now have documents to hold INGOs on account. We have all set the pace,

reiterated Naomi Tulay-Solanke. In 2014, when the Ebola hit, local actors accelerated at a different level because of active advocacy and exerted the INGOs to practice equal partnership and invest more in localisation. Although Covid-19 imposed a focus on local interventions and a scale back to national borders, Localisation is yet to happen by design. Naomi says,

INGOs have recognised the importance of partnering with local actors now. That is a gain, compared to 2014, where we were considered as local contractors. However, there is room for improvement. This can only happen if we persistently engage in a constructive manner, taking everybody on board, holding them accountable on signed documents especially at community and national levels.

While a majority (33%) of the webinar participants cited “unequal power relationship in partnerships” as the main blockage for localization, speakers provided additional insights and nuance to the many aspects relevant to localisation from the perspective of actors from the Global South.

Although Covid-19 has imposed a focus on local interventions and a scale back to national borders, it was agreed in the discussions that Localisation is yet to happen by design. As Naomi Tulay-Solanke reiterated,

we need to be at the table when the project is being designed, and to be engaged in a constructive manner.

Global organisations including INGOs and donor agencies are on path with the local actors. They understand the local actors, their ideology. However, when it comes down to the national level, it is a different ball game.

There are more local actors like never before in the current COVID-19 response. As COVID-19 is a global crisis, it took a while for international organizations to come to Liberia. We have witnessed a different kind of partnership with the donor agencies. The employees of donor agencies are on the ground implementing the project activities and the local organisations are taken in loop to monitor, said Naomi.

The turning point, however in other disaster and conflict affected countries, such as Lebanon, is not the current global pandemic. It is an additional layer of a multidimensional crisis the Lebanese people have been witnessing since the beginning of 2020.

Information is a very powerful tool. As a driver of any issue, we want to advocate, we need to know what we are talking about in advance. The seven dimensions are insightful, as we need to break the challenges down into measurable features and take ownership of the narrative, expresses Marie-Noëlle AbiYaghi,


We need to frame the narrative of localisation as we are rooted in our communities. We know what they need and where the interventions need to be executed.

Marie-Noëlle AbiYaghi highlighted the necessity to take control of the narrative around localisation whether in its definition, in partnerships, in solidarity, and develop in practice alternative ways to implement localisation, and break out from dependency on the aid industry.

What is the meaning of partnership? Marie-Noëlle asked participants.

In our organisation we do not use the term partner. We firmly address our funders as donors, unless there is a shift in the power dynamics. We need to start using terms for their actual meaning.

The principle of mutual accountability is key. The concept of balanced and equitable partnerships needs to be promoted.

We are equally accountable to tax payers as we are to the project participants. Any discussions on trust and accountability that does not take into consideration this whole spectrum, misses the point. We must refuse our participation in these partial and biased discussions, said Marie-Noëlle.

Participant Reflections

Participants shared best practices and reflections from their experiences on the ground and at different levels of a humanitarian and development work.

There is a network of local actors who are playing a prominent role in the cause of this pandemic. We have set up a situational room which, among other objectives, aims to bridge the gap between the local population and higher authorities including the government, INGOs and the UN. This room seeks to address the concerns of communities and link or refer them through appropriate channels for them to be handled. Many of the partners, especially those working in the health sector, have considered the COVID-19 as a health crisis alone. We need to highlight that there is a lot more going on besides just the health aspect. We are talking about livelihoods, WASH, GBV and many other aspects affected as a result of this pandemic."
Fatima Imam, Founder Executive Director, Rehabilitation Empowerment and Better Health Initiative (REBHI), Nigeria

The primary issue that donors and UN actors raise is concern over financial risk and safeguarding risk as obstacles to increasing funding to local actors, given lockdowns/movement restrictions, which makes different kinds of monitoring/accountability more difficult. The irony of this is perhaps that it is local actors that have the best insights on how to address such risks given all the realities on the ground given how they are embedded in communities and understand these dynamics at local level."
Howard Mollett, Catholic International Development Charity, United Kingdom

Much has been published and transmitted to partners for localisation. However, it is our misfortune that local and international organisations do not recognize their obligations. We are not strengthening the humanitarian sector as a result. They need to consider the meaning and complexities of the nation in which the project is being applied. If we do not grasp this, both ends will not be able to fulfill their duties against the affected people."
Liaquat Ali, Executive Coordinator, Doaba Foundation, Pakistan

Most of the localisation debate has been primarily centered on giving more. As local organisations, we think we should receive more and as international organisations, donors think they should give more. However, it is not about giving and taking, rather allowing our own space and not taking away what belongs to us. In the current pandemic, I see a prominent role of partnership between national and international organisations and a new way of working through the integration of technology. Sadly, I do not see much technological integration of such kind. Billions of people have been affected by the economic instability caused by COVID-19, particularly people working in the informal sector. This is the time to redesign our humanitarian development annexures to address the challenges of people working in this sector."
Sudhanshu S. Singh, Founder and CEO Humanitarian Aid International (HAI), International Coordinator A4EP, India

Localisation does not mean that locals have more control. This ensures that more services are disbursed to the impacted and at-risk regions and local actors take further intervention. Through localisation, humanitarian response is expected to not only become cost efficient but also more effective by enabling those who know the local context better to lead the process."
Regina “Nanette” Salvador-Antequisa, Founding Executive Director, Ecosystems Work for Essential Benefits, Inc. (ECOWEB), Philippines

Photo Credits: Manolis Lagoutaris/AFP via Getty Images

In recent years, there has been a substantial increase in international interest in ‘protection’ and a range of new guidelines, standards and tools for protection practitioners. With serious protection risks arising due to the COVID-19 crisis in nearly every humanitarian setting, it is now more critical than ever for organisations to consider the protection obligations they have, and how they can proactively prevent, mitigate and respond to acts of violence, coercion and deliberate deprivation of rights.

Community World Service Asia and Act for Peace co-hosted this webinar focusing on the core methods and foundations of protection programming. Protection programming aims at reducing the risk of serious harm to vulnerable groups as a result of violence, coercion and the deliberate deprivation of rights and access to information, services and resources.

A hundred and fourteen humanitarian practitioners from thirty-one countries participated in this interactive webinar. James Thomson, Senior Protection and Policy Advisor at Act for Peace led and facilitated the 75-minute session on May 20th.

Layers of Protective and Counter-Protective Influence

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With such a wide variety of actors now involved in protection, it is important to understand protection as a ‘shared responsibility’. All actors have some form of protection responsibility, including humanitarian actors.[1]  People can best access their rights in safety and dignity when all actors fulfil their responsibilities to build and maintain a protective environment. With limited protection and assistance, vulnerable individuals or groups are less able to resist, recover from and prevent or avoid future protection problems.

Protection practice starts with identifying and assessing protection risks; that means analysing the interplay of the three factors that create risks: the ‘threat’ itself, the ‘vulnerabilities’ of the group targeted, and their ‘capacity’ to address protection problems. The aim of protection is to reduce threats and vulnerabilities, and increase capacity.

When you are trying to get people to acknowledge their protection responsibilities and act in accordance the most important thing to understand is what responsibilities they have and the source of their protection responsibilities, which may stem from moral and ethical standards, cultural norms, laws and principles, humanitarian standards, organizational mandates or policies,

James highlighted. When you understand what protection responsibilities they have, the source of their responsibilities, and their willingness and capacity to provide protection, you are much better equipped to engage in effective advocacy and programming. For example, understanding what responsibilities a local official has for distributing goods and services, and the source of that responsibility – under law, department policy, or as part of their job description – means you are better equipped to hold them to account if they withhold goods, exclude groups, or demand kick-backs.

The international legal framework for protection, which consists of three mutually reinforcing bodies of international law (human rights, humanitarian and refugee law) provides a strong accountability framework. Practitioners should endeavor to work within, and strengthen, this legal framework by using a rights-based approach to protection where possible.

Adopting a Rights-Based Approach

A human rights-based approach starts with recognising people as rights-holders and states as duty-bearers who have protection responsibilities. It aims to strengthen people’s capacity to claim their rights and the capacities of ‘duty-bearers’ to ensure that they recognise and act on their responsibility to respect, protect and fulfill human rights of communities affected by conflict, disasters and displacement.  It further asserts people’s right to request and receive protection and assistance from their governments. “It is not an optional or charitable act, it is a duty!” These actions promote equality and inclusion and ultimately create accountability between people and governments.

Participants raised concerns about protection amid COVID-19 globally. James noted that

COVID-19 has resulted in a severe global economic crisis. People are losing their jobs and livelihoods, experiencing family breakdown, and the crisis is inflaming conflict, racism and xenophobia. As it deepens, different social groups will face considerable risks as a result of increased vulnerability, new threats and reduced capacity to address these challenges, so it’s critical NGOs assess these changing risks and respond through programs and advocacy.

Hannah Valentine, a participant asked how to identify threats and vulnerabilities that communities face, specifically in times like the COVID 19 crisis. James noted that

the best way to find out is to speak with individuals and groups who are facing the risks. They not only have the right, the capacity and the desire to participate in activities designed to strengthen their protection, but they also have a sound understanding of the risks they face, what options they have to respond and what help they need.


  • With domestic violence and child abuse rising rapidly as a result of the COVID-19 lockdowns, it is essential to provide protection timely and appropriately manner.
  • Identifying people at risk is essential as there are many hidden people or groups of people that need protection, such as people living with disabilities. In this case, the Washington Group Short Set of Questions will help identify those groups or individuals in order to give access to protection service and participation
  • Pro-active coordination and a consideration of contextual sensitivities is required by actors engaged in protection work in countries where human rights are under protected
  • The three main components of risks; Threats, Vulnerability and Capacity, must be addressed while responding to protection needs
  • Program designs must respond to an assessment of protection risks along with the identification and breakdown of protection problems in different contexts


Protection Standards, guides and tools:

Humanitarian response resources:

Human rights and civic space resources:

Safeguarding resources:

Country-specific info and situation reports:

Other useful resources, podcasts and webinars:

[1] Minimum protection standards include Sphere protection principles, the minimum standards for protection mainstreaming, safeguarding against sexual abuse, exploitation and abuse, and child protection.

Facilitated by: José Jódar, The Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP)

When: June 17, 2020
What time: 2:00 PM Pakistan Standard Time
Where: ZOOM – Link to be shared
Language: English
How long: 75 minutes
Format: Presentation, discussion and sharing of Best Practices
Who is it for: Humanitarian and development practitioners requiring a better understanding of Cash and Voucher Assistance with a special focus in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Purpose: To ensure participants have a sound understanding of Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) as a modality response to different types of crises and emergencies with a special focus on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through this webinar, participants will:

  • Understand CVA as a modality response to crises
  • Discuss how CVA will be adapted to COVID-19 response
  • Share best practices about CVA and COVID-19 response


Community World Service Asia and the Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP) are jointly hosting this webinar on Cash and Voucher Assistance in response to COVID-19.

Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) is being increasingly used as a response modality to different types of crises and in very diverse contexts. CVA is able to cover a wide range of needs contributing to restoring the dignity to people affected by crises. The COVID-19 pandemic is negatively impacting the global economy and will have a long-lasting impact, particularly on low-income countries and crisis contexts, if not mitigated in a timely and well-targeted manner.  CVA is seen by some as a safer option for providing rapid relief where conditions allow and is able to cover the needs of the various affected populations, adapting to remote management styles and better integrates with local systems. This webinar will focus on how delivery through cash can effectively meet needs and promote recovery at scale and within the timeline required to mitigate the worst impacts of this pandemic. Working with, and alongside social protection systems to mitigate the economic impacts of COVID-19 on the most vulnerable people will also be discussed.

A specific focus will be laid on:

  • CVA fundamentals as a modality response to crisis
  • CVA and COVID-19 response- main considerations throughout the programme cycle
  • CVA and COVID-19 response- best practices and experiences from the field

This 75-minute webinar will also give participants an opportunity to share existing best practices and ask practical questions about CVA key debates and policies, practices, common standards and other issues.

Recommended reading & learning prior to the webinar:

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

The Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP) is a global partnership of humanitarian actors engaged in policy, practice and research within Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA). CaLP currently has over 80 members who collectively deliver the vast majority of CVA in humanitarian contexts worldwide. Our members include UN agencies, Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, local and international NGOs, donors and private sector organisations. CaLP believes that when appropriately incorporated into humanitarian response planning, CVA presents opportunities for effective and efficient programming to meet the needs of people and communities affected by crises. With the number, scale and complexity of humanitarian crises increasing, CaLP acts as a catalyst for positive transformation within the sector. Bringing organizations together to strengthen capacity, knowledge, coordination and policy for CVA.

If you wish to participate, kindly register here: Webinar Registration

Applicants will be informed by 12th June 2020 about their confirmation status. Up to 200 participants will be accommodated on a first come first serve basis. We would appreciate anyone willing to share some best practices on CVA, kindly indicate in the registration form and up to 4 participants will be selected to share their experiences.

Webinar Moderator & Facilitator:

José Jódar is the Senior Technical Officer at CaLP and joined them in July 2019 after more than 12 years of work experience in multi-sectoral emergencies, livelihoods/food security and Cash & Vouchers Assistance programs with different organizations (mainly Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation AECID, Spanish Red Cross/International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Action Against Hunger) and in several contexts: Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and, lately, MENA region. José holds a PhD in International Cooperation and Development Studies (University of Murcia, Spain) and a Master’s degree in Africa Studies (major in African Politics) at School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS, London). He has a wide range of experience in CVA design and implementation, technical advisory, capacity building and both technical and institutional coordination.


Regina “Nanette” Salvador-Antequisa is the founding Executive Director of the Ecosystems Work for Essential Benefits, Inc. (ECOWEB) in the Philippines and convenor of the Community Led Emergency Action Response Network (CLEARNet) in the Philippines that actively promotes survivor and community-led response (sclr) to crisis approach – a humanitarian-development-peace nexus advocacy in action. She has been involved with peace and development work for over 25 years and is engaged in local and national policy advocacy on the issues of disaster, poverty, conflict, environment and governance. Regina is currently the sectoral representative of the Victims of Disaster and Calamities sector to the government’s National Anti-Poverty Commission. She is actively involved in international advocacy on localization of humanitarian aid through her engagement with the global Alliance for Empowering Partnerships (A4EP), Charter4Change, Local to Global Protection and participation in the World Humanitarian Action Forum.

Sudhanshu S. Singh is a humanitarian and development professional with over 32 years of global experience in the sector. Sudhanshu is founder and CEO of Humanitarian Aid International (HAI) which aims to become the first Indian organisation, working globally with the Indian identity on poverty alleviation and disaster management. HAI is also currently hosting the international secretariat of Charter4Change.

Sudhanshu has worked with several international organisations at the Asia-Pacific level, and has been involved in managing responses to almost all major disasters in the Asia-Pacific region since 2001. He has been closely engaged with Agenda for Humanity, Grand Bargain and Charter for Change and was member of the steering group of World Humanitarian Action Forum (WHAF). Sudhanshu is also one of the founders and the international coordinator for Alliance for Empowering Partnerships (A4EP).

When: June 11, 2020 
What time: 2:00 PM (Pakistan Standard Time)
Where: ZOOM – Link to be shared to registered participants
Language: English
How long: 90 minutes 
Who is it for: Humanitarian and development practitioners working in or with hard-to-reach areas, NGOs and INGOs involved in COVID19 response
Format: Panel Discussion – Multiple Speakers & Moderator
Speakers/Panelists: Ms. Qingrui Huang, Mr. Hafiz Amirrol and Ms. Dear NB SinandangModerator/Presenter: Mr. Takeshi Komino


COVID-19 pandemic presents unique challenges to the global humanitarian sector. Individuals, organizations as well as networks are all effected by this directly or indirectly.

There is a need to work together with governments, NGOs and other stakeholder to serve communities and complement the joint efforts in combating COVID-19.

Given the probability that the pandemic may last for an extended period, it is timely and imperative to discuss the behaviors, expertise and capacity both at individual and institutional level to facilitate humanitarian community in responding to the pandemic. The best possible way is to work together, build on the expertise of each other and jointly respond.

This webinar will bring together a panel of speakers with diverse backgrounds related to humanitarian and development affairs to discuss how the current COVID-19 experience impact the future of the humanitarian sector with reference to coordination. It will provide an opportunity to:

  • Explore coordination aspect in global and regional policy dialogue on humanitarian landscape in COVID-19 context (Global Humanitarian Response Plan, humanitarian financing, IASC guidelines on Localization)
  • Identify case studies on different aspects of coordination in COVID-19 preparedness and response activities from International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA), Asian Disaster Reduction and Response Network (ADRRN) and Humanitarian Forum Indonesia (HFI). These include strategic plans, action plans, challenges and best practices.
  • Facilitate exchange between networks themselves for good practices and lessons learned with reference to coordination.

The webinar will further engage its audience (panelists and participants) to explore:

  • What are the emerging trends/good practices in the space of coordination among NGOs that would continue even beyond C19?
  • What are some Innovative ways to resolve coordination challenges during COVID-19?
  • How to ensure Monitoring, evaluation, accountability, data and information sharing during COVID-19?
  • What are the associated challenges in terms of Community Engagement and risk communication?
  • How is stretching capacity within NGOs/CSOs in dealing with COVID-19 response and natural disasters?
  • What are some of the opportunities emerged for NGOs due to COVID-19?
  • What will the localization look like during new normal situation?


The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is the defining global health crisis of our time. In addition to the loss of lives and the disruption to millions of lives, the economic damage is already significant and far-reaching.

Community World Service Asia is pleased to host a series of learning and experience sharing events particularly focusing on the steps taken by organizations to minimize the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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

International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) is a global network of non-governmental organizations whose mission is to make humanitarian action more principled and effective by working collectively and independently to influence policy and practice.

ICVA helps its members understand, engage and influence the humanitarian sector with a focus on Forced migration, Humanitarian coordination, Humanitarian financing, and Cross-cutting issues.

Asian Disaster Reduction and Response Network (ADRRN) is a network consists of 52 national and international NGOs from more than 20 countries across the Asia-Pacific region. With a strong footprint in the region, the network members are constantly engaged with local communities strengthening their ability to combat disasters, providing humanitarian aid like food, water, shelter and health care, protecting critical facilities like schools and hospitals, creating awareness, advocating for policy changes and improving the capacity of community based organizations.

Humanitarian Forum Indonesia (HFI) is a network of faith based humanitarian and development organizations, committed to build a mutual understanding between Humanitarian actors especially NGOs, across differences background, to campaign norms and humanitarian standard principles throughout dialogs, and developing partnership in any level.

This 90-minute webinar will also be an opportunity for sharing best practices and develop understanding from the work of networks and organizations actively involved in the region.

Register here: Webinar on Humanitarian Coordination During COVID-19


MS. Qingrui Huang Qingrui is Acting Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific at ICVA, a global network of NGOs whose mission is to make humanitarian action more principled and effective by working collectively and independently to influence policy and practice. She has over 15 years’ experience in technical advisory and program management with both UN agencies and NGOs in the areas of humanitarian and development in Asia, particularly in China, Myanmar and Thailand. In her current role, Qingrui closely works with ICVA members, NGOs and NGO networks, and humanitarian partners such as UN agencies and donors to ensure the humanitarian actions in Asia and the Pacific are more coordinated, accountable and inclusive.

Mr. Hafiz AMIRROL Hafiz is the network coordinator for Asia Disaster Reduction and Response Network (ADRNN), a network of 52 civil society organizations across Asia that focuses on disaster risk reduction, and disaster response and preparedness. Hafiz is also Head of Strategic Planning and Building Resilient Communities at MERCY Malaysia. Hafiz is an urban designer and also a lecturer/researcher in the field of architecture, urbanism and city planning.


Ms. Dear NB Sinandang Dear is Communication and Partnership Manager of Humanitarian Forum Indonesia, a forum of faith-based organizations in Indonesia that was established in 2008. She has over 10 years’ experience in project management, capacity building programs, network management, and coordination and partnership with humanitarian key actors in the areas of humanitarian assistance and disaster management in Indonesia. In her current role, Dear closely works with HFI members, and humanitarian partners such as UN agencies, Red Cross, NGOs/INGOs, private sector, academia, donors, and regional to global networks.

Moderator / Presenter:

Mr. Takeshi Komino – Secretary General, Asian Disaster Reduction and Response Network (ADRRN) Takeshi currently serves as General Secretary of CWS Japan and a member of Executive Committee of Asian Disaster Reduction and Response Network (ADRRN) as Secretary General. He also serves as Co-chairperson of Japan Platform, and joint secretariat of Japan CSO Coalition for DRR (JCC-DRR), as well as the chairperson of Japan Quality and Accountability Network (JQAN).


Photo Credit: AP

Since the spread of COVID-19, as many individuals and organizations around the world are operating remotely the risk of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (GBV) Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) cases, as well as fraud and corruption is more likely to increase than to decrease. In a time when such threats are on a rise, the humanitarian and development community must be vigilant and prepared to ensure that affected people are protected and that they remain at the centre of our work.

To remind humanitarian practitioners on how to effectively practice and ensure community protection against sexual violence, exploitation and abuse, Community World Service Asia and Act Church of Sweden jointly hosted a webinar on ‘Protection against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse during COVID-19 Response.’

Speaking about PSEA[1], Ester Dross, lead facilitator and moderator of the webinar, shared a brief history of SEA and what we need to change, to implement effective PSEA policies and processes,

In 2001, a study commissioned by Save the Children highlighted high levels of sexual exploitation and abuse happening in refugee camps in West Africa. Exchange for sex against food or other vital services did not only happen amongst refugees themselves, but also from humanitarian workers to refugees. Since, many other studies had similar findings. As a result, most of organizations today have Code of Conducts or separate policies including protection from sexual exploitation and abuse. Policy violations unfortunately continue to come to light, underlining the need of continuing focusing on PSEA and work on improved implementation of these policies.

Sexual misconduct is a broad term encompassing any unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that is committed without consent or by force, intimidation, coercion, or manipulation. Sexual misconduct can be committed by a person of any gender, and it can occur between people of the same or different gender. The webinar highlighted the three types of misconducts; Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Sexual Harassment and Sexual Gender Based Violence.

Power imbalance always lies at the root of the various forms of sexual misconduct. This disparity is heightened while employed and residing in tough situations, where conflict, catastrophe, hardship or even a pandemic has forced the most disadvantaged people towards much greater inequities, with higher threats and lesser control.

More than 250 humanitarian and development practitioners took part in this 90-minute discussion-based webinar that shared a wide array of diverse expertise and knowledge from all over the world. Panelists, Sylvie Robert, PSEA Coordinator, Ethiopia, Maria Kjersem, PSEA Network Co-Chair, UN Women, Ethiopia, Seng Aung Sein Myint, National PSEA Coordinator for the PSEA Network, Myanmar, Jules L. Frost, Head of Programmes & Partnerships, CHS Alliance, Geneva and Elisa Cappelletti, PSEA Network Coordinator, Bangladesh joined the session to share best practices on the topic under discussion. Considering the current COVID-19 crisis, the panelists shared best practices on effective inclusion, information sharing, recruitments and trainings on prevention and protection from sexual exploitation and abuse.

Identifying Gaps to improve Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

In terms of improvement, the two major area where progress is most required are identified as awareness on policies and rights and the need for efficient and robust complaints systems. Both are linked not only to meaningful participation and effective information sharing, but also to senior management commitment to implement policies and take disciplinary measures if needed.

To resolve gaps in these areas, organizations need to ensure that they remind populations of their rights, their entitlements, what to anticipate from organizations operating in the neighborhood, what laws are relevant and what actions to anticipate from workers while employed remotely and know what constraints are in effect,

said Ester,

We need to continue to promote involvement by the communities to ensure that behavioral rules in our policies are well understood and that our CRM[2] is still relevant, or to consider alternative ways to address feedback, contribute to community understanding of anticipated activities and what to do if there are severe concerns.

What is different today? What key issues and challenges can we identify during the current crisis?

Participants in the webinar discussed the main obstacles they face in relation to implementation of PSEA in the continuing pandemic.

  • Existing taboos prevent communities from disclosing sexual exploitation to others, which becomes a major challenge in identifying actual cases
  • Inadequate budgets to include capacity development around PSEA and strengthening complaints mechanisms and procedures with implementing partners
  • Lack of awareness and accessibility, as well as deep rooted cultural practices hinder prevention of SEA
  • Failure to apply current PSEA policies on the ground. Many policies and procedures are in effect but field workers are not yet aware of them
  • Maintaining confidentiality when working and investigating remotely
  • Increased risk of violation of data protection as more information is communicated through unprotected channels
  • Increased use of technology also for receiving sensitive complaints – exclusion of people with no access to technology or low technological knowledge

Ensuring adequate information sharing and participation from communities, and receiving and investigating complaints has currently become a global challenge.

We need to be vigilant and prepared!

Think creatively! We will not be able to address all our problems, but we can curtail the present scenario by resolving some of the issues. Ester highlighted some key practices that global humanitarian community can strongly work together on to prevent sexual exploitation, abuse, violence and harassment.

  1. Policies: Most of us have made strong public commitments to policies on PSEA. It is important to reiterate those public commitments, remind staff and communities what we want to implement and how.
  2. Inclusion: Inequalities and vulnerabilities have become even more exacerbated. A commitment to inclusion of a wide set of different voices will significantly and positively influence long-term objectives and changes for the communities we work with.
  3. Participation and Information: As already underlined before, communication and participation have always been key. Communities must continue to have a voice for them to make choices through meaningful participation, even in times of rapid responsiveness and restricted access.
  4. Awareness Raising and Training: To be successful in raising awareness and improving participation, communication and inclusion, a specific focal point for prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA focal point) working with staff and communities and identifying specific risks related to sexual exploitation and abuse in regards to the COVID-19 response should be designated for each program, country and region. These can be first line responders, medical staff, protection officers and others.

Key Takeaways:

  • I found the webinar to be very informative with practical examples of ensuring that PSEA is not forgotten about in times of restricted access but instead rethink alternative ways to inform beneficiaries and receive complaints.” Tracy Robinson
  • “The current crisis motivates us to link up and openly share experiences and challenges on PSEA. This is an opportunity!” Sylvie Robert
  • “Assessment is a vital practice through which we can ask what you need as a community to address your complaints on PSEAH – The concept of ‘nothing about us without us’ applied.” Axel Schmidt
  • “GBV inside the communities is extremely important but needs to be tackled differently from SEA as we do not have a direct influence on the community members. So, this is more about advocacy but obviously needs to come into account in terms of our programming.” Ester Dross
  • “The different modalities shared in the session will be helpful to identify contextual initiatives on PSEA.” Mausumi Sharmin

[1]Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse
[2]Complaints Response Mechanism

The coronavirus induced lockdown enforced all over the world has led to a standstill in all daily activities in the province of Sindh in Pakistan. All and any movement between urban and rural centers has been barred. In an effort to continue its program implementation, Community World Service Asia engaged community groups in organizing health sessions to continue raising awareness on the prevention and precautionary actions against COVID-19 among vulnerable populations in Umerkot and Mirpurkhas. The EVC[1] team stationed in Umerkot, facilitated the collaboration and consultations by introducing digital platforms like smart phones and WhatsApp groups as an alternative to physical trainings.

The online training sessions helped to sensitize members of Steering Committees, Theater groups and Community Groups on promoting social isolation and practicing basic hygiene and safety measures against COVID-19 to minimize virus transmission. The project team urged the community members that were trained to further share the lessons with the rest of the people living in their own villages and those nearby.

More than 800 health awareness sessions have been held in the last two months with community in the area, ensuring inclusions of people with disabilities, women, widows, the elderly and children. Since women in these rural villages are primary care takers for their families, separate and more focused sessions were held with them to develop a clear understanding on the safety protocols of COVID-19.

Traditionally, men are the household heads in these rural settings and are primarily responsible for earning an income and providing financially for their families. Most of these men in Umerkot and Mirpurkhas rely on daily labor to earn an income. Since the COVID pandemic and subsequent lockdown, the men are forced to stay home without jobs and incomes to bring home. While the women, who earned additional livelihoods through farming and home-based income generating activities, like kitchen gardening or handcrafting, are also facing loss of livelihoods but an increase in household responsibilities.

The structural inequalities built into our world are now more evident than ever. The gender dimensions of the pandemic are numerous and numbingly severe, but they are not new and not surprising. Women, girls and marginalized communities are particularly impacted by this new-age crisis. In Pakistan, on average, every one in four women experiences emotional, physical or sexual violence. This accounts for approximately eight million women grappling with various forms of violence every year[2]. The risk of violence has likely further increased as economic and social pressures mount amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Protection and response services are also under pressure. Local women in Umerkot and Mirpurkhas are facing a surge in domestic violence, restricted access to reproductive healthcare and rights, and a heightened care-giving burden.

With the men staying home, without jobs, and rising frustration, the stress and household responsibilities for women in these areas has increased many folds.  Moreover, this region of Sindh has been hit by locust attacks and drought in recent times which already left these communities struggling for food security. With the COVID-19 and its associated lockdown, food shortage has further increased for many families here. Women are the last mouths to be fed in these traditional households, where feeding children and men is prioritized. This is leading to a further degradation in women’s health in these villages.

Community Voices in Corona Times:

Ghulam Murtza Lashari is a member of the steering committee in Sobho Khan Lashari village which is located at a distance of 11 kilometers from Mirpurkhas. He shared that their village houses 690 people and 113 families. Seventy percent of the people in this village work on daily wages as part of the local labor workforce. “Families of our village are dependent on daily wages and they purchase ration for their households with that daily income that they earn. The current lockdown situation has led to a lack of income generation and has resulted in extreme food shortages here.”

“Women are seriously impacted in the current situation. Pregnant women are also unable to seek proper healthcare. They rely on men who are still unemployed and unable to afford health services. Before the lockdown, our women were able to earn money by working in agricultural fields and would often use the money for their health care. Unfortunately, there is no work in the field now.” Irshad Ali, Community Group Member, Sobho Khan Lashari village, Mirpurkhas

“Our village is five kilometers from the city of Umerkot, with a thousand families residing in the locality. The main source of income for our people is everyday wages through skilled and some unskilled labor work. As part of the Steering Committee, we gathered donations and distributed ration (food items), with the collaboration of prominent individuals and landlords to 146 of the poorest families. Moreover, we are helping the most vulnerable families to enroll in the emergency program of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Ehsaas Kafalat[3]. Members of the committee have delivered COVID precautionary sessions in our communities. We are worried about this situation because the women in our village will continue to be at high risk due to family care, domestic abuse, and malnutrition risks.” Rashida. President Steering Committee and DEG[4] member from Kharoro Charan

“We began discussions with the Chairman of the Union Council for nutritional care, provision of masks, soaps and other things to combat coronavirus and hunger. With this initiative, we have provided soaps and food to a few households, and distributed them among very poor people. However, several families are still waiting for food assistance and financial support. Over 600 people live in our village; 60 percent belong to the labor force, 5 percent have small shops in the villages and 20 percent are tenants. We have compiled lists of candidates, discussed with the local minister and the president of the union council, but nobody has looked back on the people yet. Women are facing multiple issues such as malnutrition, heavy work load and household conflicts due to financial stresses.” Parkash, Member of Steering Committee at Muhammad Ali Halepot village, Mirpurkhas

“The men are continuing to lose jobs here. Emotional stress is rising among families due to lack of resources and financial support. Women are struggling. If the situation does not change soon, problems of domestic violence will increase even more and will have a significant impact on the mental and physical wellbeing of women and children in these areas. All movement has been restricted. This is also an issue of concern since people are worried about accessing appropriate healthcare in case of contagions and other illnesses.  

To help our people, the Steering Committee members negotiated with the local landlords to contribute wheat flour and ration to the poorest families of our village. As a result, the landlord agreed to donate ration to 50 widows from the village. We received 1700 soaps from the Union Council which we distributed among houses here. We are trying to do our best to help the people who are affected by the lockdown and unemployment. But much more has to be done.”Prem, Member of Community Group, Haji Chanesar Marri village in Umerkot,

“Since the general OPD is closed, the local patients are facing a lot of difficulty as they are unable to access any medical facility or expert. With the absence of public transport, traveling to bigger central health centres is not an option either. I have three patients with asthmatic disease in my house. We recently faced several problems to provide healthcare to them as there was no health service nearby. Luckily, with the aid of a paramedic in our area, we were able to arrange a nebulizer for their respiration. With limited resources, cases like this are likely to rise and will be threatening human lives.” Kewal, Member of Community Group, Kharoro Charan village, Umerkot

“Most women in the village support their families through their handicrafts production, which is largely based on orders they get from fellow community members and local and urban markets. Their husbands mostly live in faraway cities, such as Karachi and Hyderabad, working as tailors, masons, drivers, cooks or other jobs to earn better incomes for their families. Since the lockdown, both men and women in our village have suffered from lack of working opportunities. They are no handicraft orders coming in and most men have come back home as there is no work in the cities. It has become difficult to manage the household expenses with no or limited income coming in.” Kalawanti, an artisan from Kharoro Charan village in Unmerkot

[1] Every Voice Counts Project, implemented by Community World Service Asia in Umerkot and Mirpurkhas.
[2] UNFPA Pakistan 2020
[3] Government of Pakistan has launched Ehsaas Kafalat Program 2020 registration centers for merit-based financial assistance of poor and deserving women throughout the country.
[4] District Engagement Group