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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

A group photo of all training participants with lead facilitator, Nadia Riasat.

A four-day teachers’ training was held under our education program, supported by Act for Peace and Australian Aid for public schools’ teachers from the Umerkot district of Sindh province. The training focused on amplifying the skills of these teachers on early childhood care (ECCE) and advanced teaching methodologies. Thirteen teachers from different schools participated in this workshop that took place in Umerkot from January 29th to February 1st.

Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) is a new teaching approach that was introduced to the teachers in the training in Umerkot. Early childhood, defined as the age between a child’s birth uptil eight years, is scientifically identified as a time of remarkable cognitive growth, with brain development at its peak. During this stage, children are highly influenced by the environment and the people that surround them. The ECCE approach does not only relates to teaching practices in primary schools. It aims at the holistic development of a child’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical needs in order to build a solid and robust foundation for lifelong learning and wellbeing. Since August 2018, the Umerkot district government has initiated the application of ECCE as compulsory in all primary government schools of the district.

Nadia Riasat, program officer and trainer at CWSA facilitated the workshop, emphasizing on the dire need to increase knowledge on holistic development of children and together with the participants identified key learning areas to help develop child-friendly learning environments in classrooms. During the four-day training, she elaborated on the teaching methodologies available to promote ECCE and how these would help teachers keep the students’ interest and attendance consistent.

Through various interactive exercises, the teachers were kept engaged throughout the training and were encouraged to share the challenges they face in teaching and maintaining positive and conducive learning environments. ECCE was identified as one of the key approaches to sustain productive classroom settings as it adopts play-way and activity-based approaches to promote effective knowledge and character building among children. To inculcate the ECCE teaching approaches among the participants, the teachers were engaged in various activities such as role-plays, storytelling, poem recitals, presentations and production of low-cost teaching models. They also learnt new and creative ways of teaching mathematics and topics of general knowledge through applying arts and craft skills.

Naheed, a teacher at the GGPS[1] in Abdul Wahid Colony, Umerkot shared,

The training material we received and the content delivered during CWSA’s training were very useful to us in terms of engaging students in study through fun activities. The knowledge on ECCE has boosted the teachers’ confidence and enhanced their skills to overcome the hurdles we faced in keeping children interested in the subjects we taught. I will apply these methodologies and hope to achieve positive outcomes. Making creative art and craft through low-cost material is very useful, especially in rural areas like Umerkot. Most of the families that the students belong to are living in poor financial conditions and cannot bear extra expenses of additional stationary and learning material demanded by schools on certain occasions. For this reason, the use of extra material that is easily available in many of the children’s homes makes it easier for us teachers to engage children in such activities.

I was not willing to attend the training initially as I had not attended such trainings before. However, today I am glad that my other teacher colleagues convinced me to take part in the training as it gave me an opportunity to build upon my knowledge and develop specific skills to provide quality and fun education. Children learn fast when they are having fun and applying the techniques I learnt at the training will definitely result in positive outcomes for my classes.  I will encourage other teachers to attend such trainings as it is very useful in enhancing the teaching skills of teachers,

expressed Hajra, who has been teaching since 1992 and is currently a teacher at the GGPS in Main Samaro village of Umerkot.

During the training, the teachers were guided on how to develop action plans to implement their learnings and apply them in their day-to-day classrooms. The plans they developed included regular morning meetings in their classes, delegation and balanced division of work among students to build a sense of responsibility as recommended in the ECCE manual[2]. Many of the teachers planned to share their learnings with fellow teachers at their respective schools to mainstream ECCE and positive learning environments across all classes.

Naseem Ahmed Jogi, District Education Officer (DEO), was invited as a chief guest on the last day of the training to award appreciation and participation certificates. Gracing the occasion, Naseer Ahmed remarked,

This initiative by Community World Service Asia is changing the rigid environment of schools, and converting them into fun places for children to learn more effectively and enjoy education. We highly appreciate the strong support of CWSA in promoting the implementation of ECCE in school programs in this region. Our plan is to recruit more teachers specializing in ECCE and to construct separate classrooms for ECCE learning. These kind of trainings will speed up the ECCE application and inclusion processes which is why I encourage all of you here to continue taking such courses and encourage others to do the same.

[1] Government Girls Primary School

[2] ECCE Training Manual entails information on concept of ECCE, holistic development of children through ECCE, key learning areas, competencies of subject arithmetic, Urdu, culture and scheme of work on these subjects with methodologies.

The low rainfall trend in the last five years  in Pakistan has resulted in drought conditions in most of southern Pakistan, where the Pakistan Metrological Department expects a further escalation of the drought condition in the following four years. The low or no rainfall has resulted in acute shortages of water, food and livestock fodder which has further damaged the food security, nutrition, livelihoods and health conditions of the local communities of the affected areas. The Government of Pakistan estimates an approximate of five million people (three million in Sindh and two million in Baluchistan) being affected by the drought in twenty-six districts of its Sindh and Baluchistan provinces.

Both Sindh and Baluchistan provinces have high rates of poverty and food insecurity. The incidence of multidimensional poverty is forty-three per cent in Sindh and seventy-one per cent in Baluchistan. While the incidence is even higher in rural areas; with seventy-six per cent in Sindh and eighty-five  per cent in Baluchistan.

Access to health facilities in these areas is extremely difficult due to the long distances, with the nearest health facilities located at an average distance of 19.8 km in Sindh and 30 km in Baluchistan.  The high costs of travelling to these health facilities, the poor road infrastructure and a lack of cheaper public transport facilities acts as additional barriers to health services here. Even at the nearest health facilities, there is an acute shortage of lifesaving medicines and a general lack of essential medical equipment.

Most rural population of Sindh and Baluchistan live in poor socioeconomic conditions . Their sole source of income in most cases is agriculture. Therefore, the shortage of water and scarce rainfull leaves these communities in further depreviation; with no livelihood and dying livestock. To meet their most basic household and survival expenses, seventy-three percent of these drought affected communities have taken loans from relatives, shopkeepers and landlords in the last six months and  are living in debt.   

The National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) and the Provincial Disaster Management Agency (PDMA) have been appointed with coordinating response efforts to support the drought affected communities at the national level and provincial level. While the UNOCHA is supporting these government bodies with its coordination mechanisms. Other UN agencies, international and national NGOs who plan to provide assistance to the drought affected communities have been asked to coordinate with NDMA and PDMA for response plans.

The Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) of Sindh has distributed 50kgs (a two time distribution for two months) of wheat to drought affected families in the province. Additionally, three rounds of monthly distribution of ration bags  to pregnant and lactating women in districts Umerkot and Tharparkar was completed on March 10th [1].According to UNOCHA, around twenty-six national and international organisations are currently working in Sindh province, while twenty organisations are working in Baluchistan province. Some of these organizations are working on  drought response while the rest engaged in regular development interventions.

According to the latest reports by the metrological department, the current rainfall rate has given some relief to the drought situation in some previously affected districts of Baluchistan and Sindh provinces. However, other districts, namely  Awaran, Chaghi, Kharan, Noshki and Gawadar in Baluchistan, while Dadu, Khairpur, Mitiari, Qambar Shahdadkot, Sajawal, Sanghar, Thatta, Tharparkar and Umerkot districts in Sindh province are likely to remain under moderate drought conditions.

Community World Service Asia is currently responding to the food security and health  needs of the drought affected communities in district Umerkot of Sindh. Under the food security component of our emergency response, we have completed distribution of food packages  to two-hundred and eighty drought affected families through a voucher scheme. In addition, a response project supporting five-hundred and fifty-five  pregnant and lactating women and  providing food vouchers to sixteen-hundred families is underway and expected to be completed in the following six months. Under the health component of our emergency response, we are providing emergency health services to 15,600 drought affected people through two mobile health units as well  distributing baby kits and T-shirts for children.

Nonetheless, there is still a massive gap between the actual needs of the drought-affected communtiies and the assistance provided to them so far. Many affected communities have still remained unattended due to limited funding and resources. More funding is needed to provide basic assistance to the communities that remain unsupported.

Since droughts are slow, onset disasters, its response requires more planning and resource mobilization. There is therefore a dire need to organize resources for long term interventions to address drought mitigation and resilience building of affected communities.

Contacts:

Faye Lee
Associate Regional Director
Emergencies, DRR and CCA
Email: faye.lee@communityworldservice.asia
Tele: +92 51 2307484

Palwashay Arbab
Head of Communications
Email: palwashay.arbab@communityworldservice.asia
Tele: +92 42 3586 5338

Sources:
http://humanitarianservice.info/droughtportal
www.pmd.gov.pk


[1] The first round of this distribution started in December 2018.

I raise up my voice – not so I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard. We cannot succeed when half of us are held back.

Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani activist and youngest Nobel Prize laureate

Women’s Day is an international event that celebrates women’s achievements and calls for global gender equality. It has been observed since the early 1900s and is now recognized each year on March 8th.

The theme for this year’s Women’s Day, Think equal, build smart, innovate for change, focuses on inventive ways to promote gender equality and empower women, in areas of social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 5 on Gender Equality, it is first essential to understand the barriers that women and girls face on the way to progress and change and what support can be provided to them to overcome these challenges. This will be followed by designing and implementing deliberate steps to ensure that no woman or girl is left behind in the flight to success and progress.

On this Women’s Day in Pakistan, we are celebrating the extraordinary work and effort of some ordinary, yet special, women who are leaving their footprints of change, innovation and development in the area of gender equality.

Nimra, dropping her elder sister to the academy.

Nimra, driving out gender stereotypes in the heart of rural Sindh

Nimra Shaikh, a BBA student at the University of Sindh, is changing the mobility trends of women in Mirpurkhas district in Sindh Province.

The area I reside in is very conservative. If women are provided with education, it is considered more than enough for them. However, my father has been my source of encouragement towards letting me live my life to the fullest. His main priority for me was not only getting me educated but ensuring that I participate in extra-curricular activities as well. I ride a motorbike and now I am learning to drive a car. I wish to join The Pakistan Air Force one day. In the near future, I will be appearing in the initial test for Pakistan Air Force. When other girls in my university see me riding a bike, they approach me and ask me to teach them how to ride it too. I also drop my elder sister to her academy sometimes as well. In addition, whenever my father needs a drop somewhere I am always up and ready for it. Women can progress and shine in any field they desire if they are given equal opportunities. Moreover, the prominent role of family members in support of their daughters, sisters, wives encourage oneself to achieve the impossible. I hope to one day make my country proud.

Sajida is motivating many women in remote villages to step up and spread awareness.

Sajida, pioneering health awareness for the women of village Ranta in Thatta

Sajida, a 41-year-old member of the Health Committee[1] in Ranta village, has been an active participant of trainings and capacity enhancement exercises in the area.

With a below average literacy rate in most remote villages of Thatta, Sajida has taken it upon herself to conduct health sessions in the local language for the women of Ranta. She raises awareness among women on basic health rights and practices so that these rural women can lead to fulfilling and healthier lives. Sajida’s enthusiasm to learn, teach and lead led her to become the Community Resource Person of Ranta for a Cash Assistance project, implemented by another national non-governmental organization.

Women are now considering family planning for the betterment of their health and visiting the MNCH[2] in Ranta for advice and treatment,

positively added Sajida.

[1] A group formed by villagers who provide sessions on health education.

[2] Health centre established by Community World Service Asia

Sajida conducting a health session for the women in her village.
“The future is exciting. Let’s build a gender-balanced world.” #Balanceforbetter is the official campaign slogan for this year’s International Women’s Day. So our partners, community members and staff put their hands out and STRIKE THE #BalanceforBetter POSE to make International Women’s Day THEIR day – and are doing what they can to truly make a positive difference for women everywhere.

Hurmi, an agent of change and gender equality in Umerkot

A resident of Haji Chanesar village in Umerkot, Hurmi is the Vice President of the village Steering Committee and a community leader since 2015.

When I started working as a community leader, I realized that the people in these rural communities are still living with an ultra-conservative mindset, where living by caste systems was a firm way of life. Our community group convinced a family of a 16-year-old girl of delaying her marriage for three years. We were able to do that after many discussions and informational meetings with the family as they were quite rigid with their decision and thought there was nothing wrong with a girl marrying at that age.

Hurmi delivers countless awareness-raising sessions that promote girls’ education and discourage early and child marriages.

Women easily discuss their problems with us. I am happy when I help others to live a better life, especially when daughters are treated well. Now that we have been given a chance to live a better life, we must walk forward together to build a progressive society instead of letting each other down. I wish to see a society where all girls are educated and there is equality in every field.

Saleemat shows her support for #BalanceforBetter

Saleemat, endorsing performing arts to promote human dignity

A recent launch of the Sphere Handbook 2018 through a theater performance in Umerkot motivated Saleemat, a 40-year-old resident of Mandhal Thakur village, to form a theater group, consisting of both men and women for awareness raising and learning sessions.

The villagers were very surprised to hear my idea. I encouraged the villagers in a different way. I told them that we have limited access to movies and dramas. We remember the learning from the Sphere Handbook theater performance as it was educative and entertaining at the same time so we could use a similar platform. Through these plays, we can sensitize rural communities on various topics and issues that they are unaware of and can also become a source of entertainment and enjoyment for the people of our village. This will help in supporting the rural communities to progress and bring a positive change in their mindsets. Today, our theater group has ten members, including four women and six men. We will be performing 22 plays in 14 remote villages of Umerkot to sensitize people on the disadvantages and consequences of early and child marriages, benefit of girls’ education and on the importance of women’s role in decision-making.

Saleemat also plans to promote the Sphere Handbook 2018 edition in each of her plays.

The people residing in remote communities will be aware of some guidelines derived from the Sphere Handbook 2018 that guides the CSOs[1] to use the minimum standards to protect the rights of all groups of society and ensuring their inclusiveness and protection. Moreover, they will know how their needs can be catered to, especially of women, children and most importantly of the differently abled members in the community who are otherwise ignored.

[1] Civil Society Organizations

The Mandhal Thakur Theater group engaged in a training for theater groups.

Currently our theatre group is called, Mandhal Thakur Theatre Group, but we are thinking of a more creative name now.

Members of Mandhal Thakur Theater group, Chandi and her husband, Mohan, calling for #BalanceforBetter
Marvan striking a pose for #BalanceforBetter

Marwan, handcrafting her way to empowerment and independence

Marwan was living a quiet life in Haji Chanesar village in Umerkot.

One day in early 2016, my husband encouraged me to join a vocational centre set up under a livelihoods project of Community World Service Asia. Though I joined the centre reluctantly, my experience there changed my life. I learnt more than I could ever imagine and in return of my dedication and hard work, I was selected as the Quality Assurance Supervisor at the centre. As an artisan, I created vibrant apparel products and home accessories and started to support my family through my earnings. Today, I am proudly working as a professional trainer for a provincial organization at a local vocational centre in Umerkot. I earn PKR 15,000 monthly (Approx. USD 107) and am supporting my husband in contributing for my children’s education and household expenses.

Marwan never thought she would be working as a professional and independent woman.

On this special day for women, I want to call out to all women in the rural communities (such as mine) to come out and work for yourself, support your family and contribute in the progress of the society. Do not be afraid, we are in this together.

There are many other women like Nimra, Sajida, Hurmi, Saleemat and Marwan, who are stepping up and working their way towards innovating for change. Today is a global celebration of women’s achievements and a call to action to accelerate gender parity around the world. Let us together celebrate every act, big or small, of women’s courage and determination!

The Perbhat theater group with the team of community World Service Asia.

Sphere Regional Focal Point, Community World Service Asia organized a theater performance on the Sphere standard #6.3 Food Assistance. Two theater performances were conducted in Ratan Bheel and Mandhal Thakur villages of Umerkot district in Sindh, Pakistan on December 6th! A total of 130 men and women participated in the community-level event.

The play highlighted some challenges faced during the targeting, distribution and delivery processes of food assistance. Perbhat, a local theater group and local partner of CWSA, performed an interactive theater play to highlight the food distribution methods or direct cash/voucher delivery mechanisms that are efficient, equitable, secure, safe, accessible and effective and are in line with the Sphere standards. The play emphasized on the guidelines derived from the Sphere Handbook 2018 that guides the CSOs to use the minimum standards to protect the rights of all groups of society to promote their dignity and ensure their inclusiveness and protection.

Voices of the Community:

Savetri from Ratan Bheel village in Umerkot shared, “The play promoted the importance and respect of differently able and children in the community. These two groups are mostly overlooked but today we learnt that the new Sphere Handbook promotes the inclusion of all groups including men, women, children, youth and the differently able members of communities.”

Khatoon from Ratan Bheel village in Umerkot quoted, “The needs of men, women, children, youth and differently able members of the communities were given importance. None of the group was disregarded as all are served equally during emergency crisis.”

Dhano, Ratan Bheel village, Umerkot. “We learnt an important message today stating that the food assistance provided by various organizations should be according to the needs of community members”

Kiran Bashir, Project Manager, Community World Service Asia. “Sphere Handbook 2018 promotes the inclusion of all women, youth, elders and differently able members of local communities. Every voice counts so let us raise our voices together and share the message of equal participation.”

Jai Ram Dhaas, Ratan Bheel village, Umerkot. “We learnt that the Sphere Handbook 2018 caters the needs of all women, children and most importantly of the differently able members in the community who are mostly gone unnoticed.”

Reshma, a thirty-five-year-old artisan from Haji Chanesar village in Umerkot, Sindh, has been working with Community World Service Asia as an artisan and Women Enterprise Group (WEG) member since May 2016. Reshma has been very active in the skills-building classes and order completion activities at the vocational center in Haji Chanesar under the livelihoods project*.

Living with eight family members, her seven children and her husband, Reshma is responsible for all household chores and seasonal farming activities. Her husband is a mason who earns a daily income of PKR 500 to 600, however this earning is entirely dependent on the demand of his masonry work in the area; if there is ongoing construction, then his services are required, otherwise not. Hence, the income varies and is insufficient to last the family for a whole month. On an average, the monthly income is less than PKR 10,000 (Approx. 86 U$D).

My husband’s income is mostly spent on daily household expenses and our children’s education. Two of my (four) sons go to school and one of (my four) daughters is married. My younger two daughters have only studied till class 5 and now they stay at home helping with home chores mostly. While two of my elder sons work in Umerkot city at a mobile repairing shop through which they earn a daily income of PKR 300. Their income is insufficient as it also depends on repairing services, a demand for which also fluctuates.

Another artisan from Haji Chanesar village, named Maya, introduced Reshma to the vocational center.

Initially, I used to stitch at home for my children mostly. Sometimes on neighbor’s request, I worked on their clothing and stitched a few, minimal pieces. I did not know that I could earn so well through this skill.

According to Reshma, the skill development training taught her new stitching and designing techniques.

I learnt how to make new designs with a series of vast color combinations and different threads. The products we produced lacked tidiness as we worked with dirty hands sometimes or accidently put cuts on the clothes; often ignoring the quality of the products. After the training, every Women Enterprise Group** (WEG) is assigned a Quality Assurance Supervisor*** (QAS) who ensures the quality of work of every product made in the center. In addition, we also incorporate new patterns and color combinations to meet the consumer demands in the markets.

After furnishing my stitching skills, I started to receive multiple orders from local and city markets. I made embroidered apparels including shirts, pants and scarves and home accessories like cushions covers and rillis. I earnt a good amount of PKR 40,000 from all the orders I worked on. I invested my earnings in setting up a raw materials shop, for artisans and tailors, in my house. My shop provides raw material for stitching garments to retailer. There are different colored threads, needles, decorative ornaments, mirror pieces, a sewing machine, cloth pieces, laces buttons and other stitching accessories available in my shop for selling. I founded the shop six months ago and continuously invested the earnings I made through the sales of my handicrafts and the raw materials I provided. Today, I am proud to admit that I have raw materials worth Rs. one lakh in my shop up for sale.

I travel to Umerkot and Mirpurkhas city to purchase raw material to further sell at my retail shop. My son or my husband accompanies me as I need someone to help me with carrying all the material back home. I am happy to see that my sales are increasing. I now plan to travel to Karachi to purchase even more different raw materials.

It is a challenge for home-based artisans, especially women, in remote Sindh to travel to other cities to purchase a variety or good quality of raw materials needed to produce new, competitive and superior handicraft products.

My shop has a variety of products for women to purchase and some also place orders with me for bulk or specific material as they know that I am able to travel to other cities and will be able to bring them what they require for high making quality products.

My journey of becoming an entrepreneur has not been easy. After getting involved in the vocational center, it became a bit difficult to balance out all my tasks. I had to leave home chores behind and come later in the day after my class to complete them. As an elder responsible for the house, I had many errands to take care of at home too. Therefore, I aimed at working fast and starting the day early at home to finish all my home tasks before going to the center. Moreover, urgent orders for handicrafts made my life even more exhausting and busy.

Depending on design and the type of embroidery, there were products that required more time and attention.  Some buyers give very short deadlines which makes it difficult for us to meet. We have to work late and seek help from other artisans, whom we also pay for their contribution. It takes twice as much effort but we manage to deliver the orders within given timelines. However, urgent orders affect the quality of our products and our health. We need to earn money that’s why we accept urgent orders as well, as it’s a good source of income. Opportunities are limited for rural people like us, therefore, we grab any opportunity we get instead of refusing it,

narrated Resham.

Despite these challenges, I believe, this initiative has brought positivity and a good change in our lives. Before, the men in our family did not permit women to go to other cities while today we travel in groups of women and our husbands encourage us to expand our businesses. It is important for a woman to earn; when a woman has money in her hands, she is not overly dependent on anyone. We can buy clothes of our choice.  Today our choices matter as much that of the men in the family. Whenever the need arises, I spend on my healthcare as well instead of waiting for my husband’s income to come,

concluded Reshma.

* The livelihoods project titled “Increasing financial resilience and economic empowerment” in Umerkot is implemented by Community World Service Asia and supported by YCare International and UKAID.

** A WEG is a group formed of artisans in every vocational center, to produce marketable products and link them to high-end markets for income generation.

*** A trained production supervisor to manage groups to produce quality products in line with market trends.

 

Final Selection of project participants in a meeting held in collaboration with the Village Committee.

Our Emergencies Program is addressing food security needs of drought-affected communities in district Umerkot of Sindh, Pakistan. Food items have been distributed to 280 drought-affected families through voucher schemes at a “market day” that was organized by the project team in Sekhro, a union council of Umerkot.  The food package has been designed in line with Sphere food security standards and includes wheat flour (60kg), basmati rice (15kg), pulses (7kg), cooking oil (6 liters), sugar (6kg), tea leaves (600 grams), iodized salt (1kg) and matchboxes (pack of 10).

During the planning stage of the project, introductory meetings with affected communities were held to form village committees and train them, on project participant selection, use of voucher and complaint response mechanism, to participate in and take ownership of project activities. With the help of the village committees, women-headed households, families with low and no income, orphan children, elderly and the disabled village members were identified as key recipients of the food packages.

The village committee facilitated the entire voucher distribution process that took place a day prior to the “market day” and ensured that the food vouchers were distributed to the identified and most-vulnerable drought-affected families. The selected families were also oriented on how to use the voucher to buy the food items and about the venue and process of distribution on the “market day”. All the project participants were informed of the code of conduct of ACT Alliance and the process of registering complaints as well.

A total of 140 women, 138 men and 2 differently abled individuals took part in the “Market Day”, where they were given a range of food items to choose from with their vouchers for their respective household and family needs.

Community Voices:

“Due to the severe drought in our area we were unable to harvest a single grain. It was difficult to find other labour opportunities in the vicinity as well. I was worried about feeding my family with no work and zero harvest. I was just about to sell my livestock when Community World Service Asia came to our door to provide food assistance in these difficult times. We received quality food items that are enough to cater to the nutritional needs of my family for more than a month.”

Deepo, son of Muko, Sadamani Village, Umerkot District

“I have been unable to feed my children adequately since the last couple of months. With the onslaught draught and lack of fodder for our animals, we barely had any means of income or food.  Many families had to migrate from this area, as they were unable to grow anything or find other work.  This relief project has come to us as a blessing. The method of selecting project participants and the distribution method at the market day was very organized and hassle free.”

Jaman Khatton, wife of late Vishno, New Sobahani Village, Umerkot District

“My wife and I were dependent on our neighbors and other villagers who would provide us with little food assistance as my poor health does not allow me to work and earn a living. The food assistance provided by the project team of the relief project catered to our immediate needs. We now have food items stored in our house, which will last us more than two months. The food package includes a sufficient amount of basic food items required to cook a good meal.”

Mr. and Mrs. Adho, Sadmani Village, Umerkot District

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.

My husband, Utham, takes care of the village chief’s livestock. He earns a monthly income of PKR 5000 (approx. USD 42) through it. This income amount served to be insufficient for a household of seven members. All of the PKR 5000 was mostly consumed in purchasing grocery items to run the family kitchen and there was barely anything left to spend on other household expenses,

voiced Bhaga gloomily. Bhaga is a thiry-five-year-old mother of four children and lives with her husband and mother-in-law in Kharoro Charan village located in district Umerkot, Sindh.

Bhaga’s family was among the few assigned to Kenwal, a trained gender activist in Kharoro Charan, to work with on raising awareness on gender rights and equality. Kenwal visited Utham and Bhaga’s family to encourage Bhaga to join the vocational center to enhance her handicraft skills and develop literacy and marketing skills.

Utham and my mother-in-law supported and motivated me to take the skills assessment in order to join the center. Upon passing the assessment, I joined the center in June 2016.

The three months Adult Literacy Training which was part of the vocational centre classes helped me build upon my basic learning skills. Growing up as part of a financially poor family, I did not get the chance to attend school when I was young. This training gave me the opportunity to learn how to read and write. It also helped build my confidence. I was quite dependent on my husband before. I did not go anywhere without him accompanying me. After taking the trainings, I have now started to commute to nearby markets and to the health center on my own whenever the need arises. I do not wait for Utham to return from work and escort me,” shared a confident Bhaga, “The Skills Development Training on the other hand brought new colors to my life altogether. I did not know what color combinations to make in embroidery making and how to use them while designing apparel. I realized that the use of vibrant and mellow color combinations could increase the value of our handcrafts. I have worked on many orders from local and urban markets since I graduated from the centre. I have produced various apparels and home accessories.

Bhaga did not own a sewing machine. She saved money from what she earned through handicraft sales and order delivery at the center and bought herself a sewing machine. She works on orders received for her products at her home now as well.

I work as a tailor in the village now. I earn a good amount of around PKR 6000-7000 a month. I also teach stitching and embroidery to three young girls who come to learn from me at my house. Amarta, Devi and Savita are their names and they between the ages of 12 and 14 years. I am happy to teach them without charging them any fee. I believe it is best to share my learning so that others can benefit from it just like I did.

Utham used to be an ardent alcoholic. Bhaga said there were times when Utham spent a heavy portion of his income on purchasing alcohol.

He would come home drunk very late in the nights. I felt disappointed as I was not able to stop him from drinking so much

added Bhaga. Kewal took a lead to work with Bhaga’s family. As a trained gender activist, Kewal was given five households with whom to start work with. He held meetings with the family, highlighting many disadvantages of alcoholism and being one of the root causes of many gender based discriminatory practices and mindsets in their community.

Utham used to beat Bhaga when he was drunk. His behavior was affecting entire family very gravely and it had to stop. I met with the family a couple of times and continuously persuaded Utham to reduce his drinking. I made him realize that this could become the future of his children if he continued to drink this abusively,

expressed Kewal. As a result, Utham reduced his consumption of alcohol. He has also stopped physically abusing Bhaga.

I am more relaxed and the environment of my home has improved due to this initiative. I am glad to see how responsible Utham has become. He takes care of his children more. He respects me now.

As parents, we have never stopped our girls from gaining education. They are intelligent and have been very confident in pursuing education and we support them in every step of the way,

expressed Shahida, a thirty-two-year-old mother of six children living in Umerkot district of Sindh province. Shahida has been the chairman of the School ManagementCommittee (SMC) since 2017. Bushra and Dua, two of Shahida’s daughters, study at the Government Girls Primary School of Abdul Wahid Colony, Umerkot.

The SMC was established in 2016 but was not actively working. Each year when the funds were released by the government, the SMC members, a handful of teachers, the headmaster and the General Secretary of the SMC, would hold a meeting and decide where to spend the money. No parent or student was involved in the meeting. Following the teachers trainings last year and beginning of this year, the trained teachers came to me and emphasized on strengthening the role of SMC for the further development of the school,

 narrated Sami, Head Master at the GGPS Abdul Wahid Colony.

The SMC, comprising of a General Secretary, a chairman, two teachers, two parents and two students, held a meeting soon after to highlight the role of each member and encouraged active participation to strengthen its role towards improving the education standards of the school.

Abdul Razzaque, consultant at Community World Service Asia, conducted a session for the SMC in February 2018, emphasizing on the key role of the SMC in strengthening relationships between the schools and local communities. As parents and children are the primary stakeholders of an education system, they need to be given opportunities to be involved in bringing about a change for themselves.

At the session we were briefed on what the prime functions of the SMC should be. Educationally, we are expected to monitor teachers’ attendance, increase the enrolment of children and build awareness amongst parents on the importance of education for their children. Administratively, we are expected to actively participate in organizing co-curriculum activities, monitor provision of free textbooks and disburse the SMC fund for the improvement of the school, Shahida shared. Furthermore, Sir Razzaque emphasized on having a clean school to promote a healthy environment. Keeping the facility clean will prevent spreading of germs, resulting in healthier students. Healthy students are able to focus better at school and experience less absenteeism.

The government revived the structure of theSMC in 2015 but did not provide formal trainings for its’ members to work proactively for the advancement of the schools. It was after the teachers’ training that the SMC of Abdul Wahid Colony was actively involved in the school’s operations and academic decisions. The learnings provided by CommunityWorld Service Asia further built on our capacities to work towards better outcomes for our students, teachers and the entire school systems. As a SMC member and a parent, I learnt the fundamental role we can play in improving teaching quality and infrastructure of the school to create a productive academic environment for the students, especially the girls, sharing her learnings, Shahida added, Most importantly, we learnt to make a budget of the annual fund received from the government. Budgeting is an important process that allows delegation of financial tasks and responsibility in schools. Developing and maintaining a budget is key to achieving secure and successful outcomes for the school.

In the near future, we are planning a SMC meeting to plan out a budget to utilize the funds sufficiently. This is a good practice for record keeping as well and will be very beneficial while planning future budgets. We can compare previous budgets and prioritize activities accordingly every year.

The space for girls’ education in rural areas like Umerkot is limited. Parents here lay more importance on the education of boys, believing they will be heading households and financially supporting their families in the future. Whereas girls are predestined to take care of their homes and family for which, they think, education is not compulsory.

It is sad to see that parents think way. We encourage parents, neighbors and friends in social gatherings to send their daughters to schools. Things are improving gradually but there is still a long way to go.

One of my daughter’s, Dua, primary schoolteachers, Naheed, was part of the Teachers and Master Teachers training conducted by Community World Service Asia under its’ Girls Education Project supported byAct for Peace, in 2017 and 2018. The change I saw in my daughter’s learning and interest was commendable. And similar improvements and increased interest of students was observed in other classes

I witnessed the enthusiasm children had when they participated in the Creative Art Competition held in May 2018. They were overwhelmed. Students in rural areas are rarely involved in such activities and this is one of the main reasons why parents do not send their children to school as they only see a child studying off a textbook with little motivation. Activities like the seen courage parents to send their children to school. Children are also motivated to come to school as these platforms provide an opportunity to stand out. I would like to request Community World Service Asia to conduct more child centered activities and competitions with different school participating, leading to provincial based competitions. The art competition exhibited that the students in Umerkot have great potential. They only need a platform to exhibit their talent. Moreover, there can be joint ventures where parents can be involved in the management of competitions as this will allow student and parent participation which will be a completely unique and motivating experience for all.