After completing training, participants receive an emergency kit, including a radio, a torch, a safe documents bag and a battery cell

This month, Community World Service Asia has conducted disaster risk reduction sessions for 150 men and women from six Community Organizations in the hazard-prone area of Thatta, Sindh province.  Community Based Disaster Risk Management trainings are conducted through our innovative Mobile Knowledge Resource Center, which engages community members in disaster preparedness skills.  These trainings are bringing vital knowledge to vulnerable communities, and empowering them to build their resilience:

“It was great and fruitful training for us because we never received any training about DRR by presenting simulation models, we never knew about our village’s vulnerabilities, historical hazards, evacuation and emergency equipment.”

  • Gul Hassan, member of Rahim Dino Thaheem Community Organization

“The early warning system is a very informative method to mitigate any future disaster.  It will help us with updates of natural disaster.  The phone number provided to us it will help us to remain in contact with government body and NGO. We never know before where we get updates.”

  • Yar Muhammad, member of Haji Talib Bijoro Community Organization

“I would like to thanks Community World Service Asia for coming here and conducted training especially for women, because we are neglected at any walk of life.  I learnt how to take safety measure in a fire disaster; I know about the reason of fire and how to keep away unused grass from kitchen surroundings.”

  • Ms Meemi Member, member of Basar Charan Community Organization

Fareed, seven years old, was brought to the center for the first time by his grandmother for a chest infection.  His Grandmother said, “I bring him here because I trust the services of MNCH centre.”

Zameer, five years old, was also visiting the center for the first time due to a chest infection.  The team examined and treated him, and advised him to come for a follow-up visit in three days.

Kasbano, nine years old, came to the center after suffering from suspected malaria for four days.  The team confirmed the diagnosis and provided her with medication.  Malaria is a widespread problem in Thatta, exacerbated by recent flooding.

Zulakhan, 40, came to the center for antenatal care.  As well as providing pre- and post-natal services, the team promotes awareness of the importance of continued check-ups for the health of new mothers among the community, and the number of women who come to the center for these check-ups has increased significanty.

Hakeema, 75, came to the center for a muscular-skeletal issue.  The MNCH means that women have access to health care services locally.  For elderly women in particular, the ability to reach a doctor when they need one without the time, expense and risk of travelling outside the village to the district hospital is integral to quality of life. 

Sodi, 45, visited the center to treat an intestinal ulcer.  Poverty and poor sanitation increase the likelihood of the bacterial infection associated with the development of intestinal ulcers.  These can be effectively treated with medication, but can be extremely dangerous if left untreated, underlining the importance of access to local health facilities for women like Sodi.

The field team in Thatta recently participated in a photography workshop, and has shared these portraits of patients at the Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health Center, funded by Church of Scotland, using their new skills.

Community World Service Asia celebrated International Literacy Day with the community in Thatta.  Supported by Christian Aid, we have opened two adult literacy centers in which 100 women are enrolled, and are learning to read on write using phonetic methodologies. Raj bai, an adult literacy student, shared that she will become an “educational partner” of her children following the completion of the course, while Fayyaz, a fourth grade student, shared, “I will struggle for the enrolment of other children in my school as well, and I will make it true that my village becomes 100% literate.”  We hope to continue working with the community in Thatta to make Fayyaz’s dream a reality!

Photographs were taken by our Thatta team as an assignment of the in-house photography training follow up.

Communities seek safety on higher ground of river embankments as their homes are flooded
Village organization planning emergency evacuation as part of a DRR training in Thatta.
Village organization planning emergency evacuation as part of a DRR training in Thatta.

Heavy rains have been severely affecting communities in Union Council Bijora, District Thatta, in the Sindh province of Pakistan.  Community World Service Asia has been present in the area since the devastating flooding in 2010, and continues to run health and livelihoods projects.  As part of an initiative funded by Christian Aid, Community World Service Asia is supporting the livelihoods of community members through vocational training and literacy classes for women, and community mobilization for disaster preparedness.

Thatta is an extremely flood-prone area, and flooding presents a serious hazard to the wellbeing and livelihoods of the local population. The destruction of crops, livestock and property results in significant losses and lead to the accumulation of debt and continuing poverty for already vulnerable households.  The recent monsoon rains have left 25 to 35 families homeless, rendered pathways between villages inaccessible and heavily impacted the earnings of people who rely on agricultural labor for their wages.  A lack of safe drinking water has also caused illnesses such as vomiting and diarrhea, which are particularly dangerous for young children, and especially so in a situation of food insecurity when many children are already malnourished.

Since 2013, Community World Service Asia has been conducting disaster risk reduction (DRR) trainings for community members and establishing village organizations to mobilize the community and facilitate them in disaster preparedness.  These organizations have undertaken a variety of key DRR initiatives, including the establishment of a community-based early warning system, based on regular and close monitoring of radio reports, hazard assessments and regular coordination and communication throughout the community.  They have conducted evacuation drills and have formed Emergency Rescue Teams to be ready for, and activated in, an emergency situation.

This value of this preparation became clear when the heavy rainfall began to affect the area, as the village organizations and community members promptly began coordination and activated the rescue teams to evacuate villagers to safety on the high ground of the embankment.

The village organizations are also coordinating with local authorities, utilizing the contacts that were provided during Community World Service Asia’s trainings. This had resulted in the district coordinator coming to inspect the situation of the village, and the Provincial Disaster Management Authority providing tents to shelter the displaced families.

The pro-active response of the community has demonstrated the effectiveness of the training methodologies. More importantly it has shown the importance of empowering the community to take ownership of its preparedness, and engaging the local population in efforts to reduce the risks posed by flooding.

Community World Service Asia’s Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health (MNCH) center, funded by Church World Service Global and the Church of Scotland, serves a local population of approximately 20,500 in Union Council Bijora, Thatta, in the Sindh province. The remote, rural area is affected by a lack of health infrastructure and services. A lack of female doctors and health practitioners, as well as cultural norms which pose barriers to women travelling, mean that women are particularly under-served and that their health issues remain a serious problem.

The MNCH center provides easily accessible and affordable health care to the local community, which not only enables women to avail vital services, but alleviates the financial burden of expensive travel to the nearest hospital, which can cost families around Rs. 1,000 (USD 10). A key component of the project is community mobilization, which promotes the engagement and ownership of community members. Through the formation of male and female Health Management Committees (HMCs), we are able to build trusting relationships with communities, which are essential to effectively address key health issues. The HMC members conduct basic level awareness raising sessions on hygiene practices, common and seasonal diseases such as malaria, and family planning.

The HMCs also play a vital role in sharing information among men and women in the community regarding the health services available at the MNCH, including more in-depth awareness-raising sessions. In addition, HMCs provide transport to patients in emergency situations, identify current health issues and report them to the project team, as well as supporting the team with the management of medicine stocks. This participation is essential to Community World Service Asia’s vision of empowered communities. HMC members demonstrated their strong sense of local ownership by sharing their hopes for the MNCH center in ten years’ time: a “first class” facility for the community.

A wide gender gap exists across Pakistan, with women able to access fewer opportunities for participation in education, employment and social and political life. Nationally, only 45% of women are literate, compared to 69% of men[1]. There is also a strong disparity between urban and rural areas, 71.1% of those who live in cities or towns able to read and write, and only 46.3% of those who live in more remote settings[2].

Women in rural areas are therefore particularly marginalized, and are affected by a variety of factors which limit their access to education. There are few schools, a lack of female teachers, insufficient sanitation facilities at schools, and often long and unsecure journeys between home and the classroom. This further compounds the general issues of insufficient resources, untrained and unqualified teachers, out-of-date textbooks and poverty, which present obstacles to girls and boys alike.

Community World Service Asia is committed to empowering rural women through education and income generation. Through our women’s empowerment project in Thatta, Sindh, funded by Christian Aid, women receive training to develop their skills in traditional embroidery, appliqué and other crafts. The project also supports these women to develop sustainable linkages to local and high-end markets, and education on sexual and reproductive health. A key component of the intervention is the introduction of adult literacy classes, through which participating women receive education in basic reading, writing and mathematical skills.

The second adult literacy center was opened in Ghulam Muhammad Soorjo village, Thatta, on 1st July, with fifty women enrolled. The new students eagerly shared their motivation for undertaking the classes, with reasons including being able to read the expiration dates on medicines, verifying their national identity cards, and registering to vote.

[1] Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement survey (PSLM) 2008-09-Most recent government figures available.

[2] UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2011


Community World Service Asia, with the financial support of Christian Aid, has been working with flood-prone and affected communities in Thatta, Sindh since 2010. Along with utilizing our innovative Mobile Knowledge Resource Center to conduct interactive training workshops to support community members, teachers and students to become disaster resilient, we promote community ownership of disaster risk reduction initiatives through the formation of local level disaster management committees. These committees are essential to the active participation of communities in preparedness and mobilization in the event of a disaster, as well as building sustainability of the intervention. The committees carry out assessments of local risks and capacity to respond, as well as producing hazard maps and conducting evacuation drills.

On June 15th, members of the disaster management committee in Union Council Bijora, Thatta participated in an exposure visit to a neighboring village, Ali Muhammat Jat, to share their experiences of working to build community resilience to natural disasters.   The visit was an opportunity for both communities to identify good practices and areas in which they can learn from one another. The participants shared the importance of engaging and coordinating with community members in order to successfully identify needs and priorities, and effectively sensitize communities to important practices such as education and disaster preparedness. The committee in Ali Muhammad Jat, supported by Islamic Relief Pakistan, also shared their initiative of monitoring local news alerts to develop their own early warning system, which the committee members from UC Bijora found particularly interesting and useful.

Exposure visits like these enable the communities with whom we work to develop links with other groups, learn from them, and adapt relevant initiatives to strengthen their own practices. This also helps the committees which we establish in becoming self-sustaining and durable in the long-term.

In celebration of Global Earth Day, Community world Service Asia had organized tree-plantation activities in villages in Thatta, Sindh, with the communities it works with.

Cultural Activities on promoting environmental responsibility were conducted while the plantations were ongoing. Communities were also made aware of how these tree plantations help in disaster mitigation. Many children in the Phul Jhakro village took part in these planting activities. The communities understood the importance of such activities towards the protection of the planet and realized that the global community needs to stand together in doing so.

Community World Service Asia also collaborated with a boys’ school in Ahund Baradia, Thatta to organize activities on Global Earth Day on April 22nd. Students took part in a group activity divided under different topics such as “importance of plantation”, “flaws of deforestation” and “how to protect the earth” to showcase their understanding on the concerns. They also exhibited the safe village models that they had made to show the various DRR activities they have learnt through Community World Service Asia’s workshops. The model also displayed how the earth is made safer through tree plantation.

The main purpose of conducting these activities was to create awareness at different levels on environmental degradation and the benefits of tree plantation and how both of these impact climate change.