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Shehdev of village Veri Sal Sarety lying 6 kilometres southwest of Umerkot, the second youngest of seven brothers is a bachelor while all the others are wedded. One of them passed away some years ago leaving behind three little children. Then the widowed mother walked out of the home leaving her children in the care of their uncle. Shehdev thus cares for four souls that includes these three children and his mother. Herself illiterate, the mother is a remarkable women for she and her husband had worked hard to educate all her seven sons. No surprise then, that Shehdev is a matriculate.

Shehdev works as a bricklayer wherever he can get work. And this is mostly in Umerkot, 6 kilometres away. With the fare being PKR 60 (Approx. USD 0.27) out and back, his daily wage varying between PKR 800 and PKR 1000 (Approx. USD 3 and 4.45), is enough to put reasonable food on the table for the five-member family. To supplement this income, Shehdev’s mother goes to the flooded cotton fields to pick the ripe crop. She knew the flood has caused venomous snakes to take refuge among the vegetation, but the work cannot be given up, especially at a time when other work is hard to find.

In July, the deluge came and construction work came to a halt. Some little savings from his work helped Shehdev and his family make it through the first couple of weeks before things began to get difficult. Had there not been some work helping local landowners drain their flooded fields and for his mother to endanger her life in the cotton fields, Shehdev would have gone under debt.

In early September 2022, food was the least of Shehdev’s worries because his mother continued her work and brought some cash. He was more concerned with the rebuilding of his collapsed home. Sahehdev, now living under a makeshift tent on higher grounds nearby to escape the flood waters, admitted the cost would be negligible because the clay for the bricks was locally available and the rafters for the collapsed roof were undamaged. Being a bricklayer himself, he was better acquainted than most with the work and as soon as he got some cash, he would begin reconstruction. If only his two yearling bulls had not died during the rains, he could have easily disposed of them for a neat PKR 70,000 (Approx. USD 312) and raised his home in quick time. But without that ready cash gone, he has to rely for cash from his mother’s farm work and himself if he is called to help drain a field. Shehdex, who is now supported through one of Community World Service Asia’s development projects, will only be able to return to work as a bricklayer when construction begins again after the last crowds have dissipated.

When: 19th-21st, December 2022 (arrival at venue on 18th Dec 2022)
Where: Umerkot, Sindh
Language: Urdu and English
Interested Applicants: Click here to register
Last Date to Apply: 5th-Dec-2022 (incomplete applications will not be entertained)

Training Objectives: Through this training, you will be able to:

  • Identify the key Q&A initiatives and their tools to support Project Cycle Management
  • Select and adapt existing Q&A tools and resources to overcome challenges throughout the Project Cycle
  • Outline the opportunities and challenges faced by humanitarian workers in implementing Q&A approaches and tools throughout the project cycle
  • Identify means by which you and your colleagues can collaborate and coordinate with other agencies to improve the quality and accountability of a humanitarian response
  • Introducing and mainstreaming quality and accountability mechanisms through the organisation

Training Purpose

The impact of humanitarian work on communities depends greatly upon the quality of services and accountability of actions both during emergency and non-emergency times. With millions of people affected by disasters and conflicts, the importance of Quality & Accountability (Q&A) is undeniable. The effective implementation of Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability (CHS) requires a commitment to build institutional and individual capacity of people engaged in designing and implementing humanitarian as well as development projects.

Community World Service Asia (CWSA) aims to ensure that all relevant agencies including NGOs, INGOs, UN, donors, universities and government agencies, playing an active role in the disaster response & rehabilitation are given the opportunity to implement Quality and Accountability approaches and tools in their work.

Number of Participants

  • 20-25 participants will be selected for the training. Women and staff belonging to ethnic/religious minorities are encouraged to apply.
  • Preference will be given to participants representing organizations working in Umerkot and surroundings.

Selection Criteria

  • You have experience in managing a key position
  • You have an idea about the Q&A initiatives
  • You are interested in introducing Q&A mechanisms in your organisation
  • You have a ‘good enough’ command of English.

Fee Details

  • Training fee for each participant is PKR 10,000. Fee concessions and scholarships are available for participants belonging to marginalised groups and NGOs with limited funding.
  • No TA/DA will be given to participants and travel expenses will be incurred by participants themselves.

REGISTER NOW!

Community World Service Asia (CWSA) is a humanitarian and development organization, registered in Pakistan, headquartered 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.

Twenty-five year-old Vadhri of Rohiraro rarely leaves home. Even though her village is just sixty kilometres southeast of Umerkot, she has not been to town for a couple of years. She may have had some liberty had her husband been alive, but since his death in 2018, she has been under the constant watch of her meddlesome, overbearing father-in-law.

Vadhri’s husband was a maker of the famous farasi (camel and goat hair carpet) of Sindh. Working ten hours a day, seven days a week, he made around PKR 4000 a month (Approx. USD 20). Though it was a pittance for the masterful work he was doing, he kept at it but remained perpetually in bondage to the middleman who provided him the required materials for the product. To this loan shark he was obligated to sell his produce at a price set by the buyer. That, it goes without saying, was considerably lower than the market price. Like hundreds of other Meghwar men engaged in this craft in Umerkot, he was too poor to procure the materials and become independent of the exploitation.

What little time he got, he laboured in the five-acre plot of land he owned in the village. Long years ago, when his father was a young man, rains were timely and plentiful and this holding provided the family with sufficient food for the year. But things had changed and now there were years when rains failed and he lost what he had invested in his land.

Meanwhile, even the priceless and exquisitely beautiful farasi was going out of fashion. Once a prized adornment in any self-respecting Sindhi home, its demand dwindled and craftsmen turned to other professions. Vadhri’s husband resolved to become a driver. From what he knew, that was a line of good and regular income. But to be a driver he did not have to go to school. All that was needed was to attach himself to a vehicle as helper to the driver.

The rules for this apprenticeship are that he was to clean the vehicle, fetch the master his cup of tea and food and be much like a slave. The master considering he was doing the apprentice a favour by teaching him a valuable skill, did not pay any salary. And so from being a slave to the farasi middleman and making a meagre living, the man became a slave to the driver without a salary.

Over time, he was permitted to do a little bit of reverse and forward practice in the village. But before he could actually master the skill, misfortune struck. On a journey perched precariously atop some baggage on a desert road, the vehicle he was riding struck an unseen speed breaker. The jolt threw the poor man onto the road where he quickly gave up his ghost because of a head injury. He was barely twenty-five years old.

Vadhri was left alone to fend for herself and her three little children. It was just as well that she was a skilled embroiderer of the prized Sindhi cap. But she too was in bondage to the buyer who supplied her the materials and purchased each complete piece for PKR 800 (Approx. USD 4). It took Vadhri a week to finish one cap, but there never was a month when she had work all four weeks. Her income therefore floated around PKR 2500 per month (Approx. USD 12).

She was fortunate to receive the monthly monetary aid under the Benazir Income Support Programme1  (renamed Ehsas) which allowed her to maintain her eldest child in the local school. Evidently a very foresighted woman, Vadhri dreams of enrolling the other two when they reach the age because, as she says, it is only be through education that they will break the shackles of poverty.

Despite the BISP support being just PKR 1000 per month (Approx. USD 8) and her own income only a little more, Vadhri, began to put away little by little. When she had saved about PKR 5000 (Approx. USD 24), she started a small general merchandise store in the village. This she gave to the charge of her father-in-law. Once again, the profit was not consumed but ploughed back into the business to constantly increase it. Meanwhile, she herself continued diligently with her cap making to feed her family.

But PKR 2500 Approx. USD 12) can scarcely keep a family of four fed for a month. Therefore, while she restricted herself to two meagre meals a day, she ensured that her children were fed as best as they could be given the tiny resource. And so, if the CWSA field staff picked a deserving candidate for food aid under the Humanitarian, Early Recovery, and Development project, it was Vadhri. This was just in time because the PKR 7000 (Approx. USD 34) accrued from selling her 2021 autumn crop of millets, guar and lentils was all but used up over the winter when children need more nourishment.

Since April 2022, her three children have food much better than they had ever had in their lives. Vadhri herself is now eating three meals a day. In mid-May, her larder still contained some of the supplies of the first handout even as she expected the second instalment the next day. She will not have to sell her goats to feed her family, she says. Why, in those difficult days of the Corona virus she had to sell two of her eight goats and had fretted that she soon might be left with no goats at all.

In May 2022, with food secured, Vadhri was yet putting away all her cap income for she had no idea how much longer the food aid would continue. There will be a time she will have to buy her own food for which she needed to save up, she said. Her next concern was that the PKR 500 (Approx. USD 2) that she spends every month on her school-going child should always be at hand. Soon the next child too will be eligible for enrolment. The food aid has made that possible.

Meanwhile, as her store continues to grow, one can only wish her well and would like to see her blossoming into an entrepreneur in a year or so.


1 The Benazir Income Support Programme is a federal unconditional cash transfer poverty reduction program in Pakistan.

Fifty year old Pehlaj works as a primary school teacher at a government school in Umerkot district of Pakistan. His co-education school is located in a remote part of Umerkot, with a student count of 262, and a total of five teachers.

As part of a training programⁱ for teachers, Pehlaj participated in three trainings focused on Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE). The trainings aimed to increase teachers’ capacity on teaching in a pandemic environment, child-centrered and positive learning techniques. “This was a first of its kind experience for me. I became more acquainted with early-grade teaching techniques owing to the training, which also included classroom management, learning corners and class decorations. Additionally, the session on COVID-19 pandemic taught us practical steps to follow in schools to stop the virus from spreading among students and teaching staff,” shared Pehlaj.

Like other participants of the trainings, Pehlaj received an ECCE kit at the end of the training, which included stationary, poster cards, water colours, markers, wall clock, puzzles, play cards, learning cards of English and Urdu Alphabets, colour pencils and chart papers. “The learning kit was a good motivation and helped us make our lessons very interesting. Our students enjoyed learning through practical activities. I came up with a plan to develop identical kits for other classes at the school too.”

As a hobby and passion, Pehlaj also sings songs and performs as a professional dancer at religious activities for which he is paid mostly. Pehlaj turned down payments in the past and only recently has started accepting payment for his performing art services. “I began to accept PKR 5000 as remuneration for each performance at the festivals. I buy first aid kits, educational materials, stationery, and play cards for the students in Grades 1 to 5 with the additional money I make.”

The hygiene kits provided in the trainings focused on education during a pandemic, particularly COVID-19, have been quite useful, conferred Pehlaj. “I encouraged the students to use face masks and hand sanitizers in the classroom and made them wash hands with soap before and after lunch breaks. Additionally, we ensured phenyl was used to disinfect classrooms.” Pehlaj also oriented other students and teachers on COVID-19 SoPs through individual sessions in each classroom of their school.

A hand washing station was also installed in the school under the project. Students were oriented on effective hand-washing to prevent coronavirus.

“Students in remote schools have less resources to pursue a high standard of education and combat pandemics. This assistance was both necessary and timely. Our students are actively participating in their education activities and utilising classroom resources effectively,” concluded Pehlaj.


ⁱ Community World Service Asia & Act for Peace’s Education project

Many villages submerged in Sindh province in Pakistan after flash floods from Balochistan entered the province

More than 580 people have died (including 224 children and 114 women) and thousands have lost their homes across Pakistan as torrential rains hit the country. Widespread rain-thunderstorms with scattered heavy/very heavy falls, accompanied by occasional strong winds have struck districts Mirpurkhas and Umerkot of Sindh province, where a majority of Community World Service Asia’s humanitarian and development programs are focused. These extreme rains are critically affecting vulnerable communities already living in poverty and has damaged infrastructure in the area, with no electricity and limited communication access.

People in Umerkot have been forced to abandon their homes as crops and livestock are washed away across the province.

The flood-affected communities in Umerkot are in need of food, tents, clean drinking water, mosquito nets, ration bags and hygiene kits. A total of 1,860 houses have been damaged, affecting a population of 109,246 and displacing 18,207 men, women and children in Mirpurkhas and Umerkot.

An estimated 1 million people have been affected by heavy rainfall, flash floods and landslides since July as Pakistan endures more than 60% of its normal total monsoon rainfall in three weeks.

The worst-hit provinces include Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Sindh, and Pakistan is expected to see severe rain until Friday (August 19th).

Hundreds of miles of roads have been damaged, making many areas in Umerkot inaccessible to emergency services.

Approximately 200 people have died in Balochistan – Pakistan’s biggest and poorest province – which is suffering its worst floods in more than 30 years. The National Disaster Management Authority said the province had received 305% more rain than the annual average.

Climate Change Minister of Pakistan said the climate catastrophe in Pakistan is “a national security crisis.” Pakistan is in the “middle of the food, climate, water, population and environmental crisis.” Pakistan has faced 152 extreme events in the last two decades with constant shifts in rainfall patterns, intensity and frequency. “We are also home to the hottest cities in the world for three years straight with temperatures rising up to 53.7C which is an unlivable situation,” added the Minister.

Families have lost their homes and belongings as a result of the Heavy rains and subsequent floods.

Community World Service Asia Response:

Community World Service Asia (CWSA) is in coordination with the local government and other stakeholders active in the area. Our emergency response team is closely monitoring the situation on the ground and will start relief operations immediately when required.

Contacts:
Shama Mall
Deputy Regional Director
Programs & Organizational Development
Email: hi2shama@cyber.net.pk
Tele: 92-21-34390541-4

Palwashay Arbab
Head of Communication
Email: palwashay.arbab@communityworldservice.asia
Tele: +92 42 35865338

Sources:
www.dailytimes.com.pk
NDMA
Reliefweb
Gulf news

Gauri is the star of Rohiraro. As a very young girl in her parents’ village near Chachro, she taught herself cutting and sewing, got a hand-cranked sewing machine and started work as a seamstress. With a laugh she insists that she did not have a teacher, that she is entirely self-taught.

Marriage brought her to her husband’s village Rohiraro. Her man did not own any land of his own and worked as an unskilled labourer daily commuting the sixty kilometres to Umerkot for work. Together they had two children and with Gauri contributing to the family’s income from her tailoring, life seemed to be as good as it could be in a typical village of the desert area of Umerkot. But misfortune struck in 2008 when her son was still very small and her daughter yet to be born: her husband passed away in a road accident.

Perhaps another woman would have succumbed to despair, but Gauri was made of different mettle. She went into her tailoring work in overdrive. About this time she also learned to make those fancy and colourful naras (drawstrings for the shalwar). Virtual pieces of art, these strings are ideally meant to hang a little below the hem of the kameez1 and be seen.

Today as seamstress to her village, Gauri charges PKR 300 (Approx. USD 1.5) for a women’s dress and says she can do about seven dresses every week. That means a monthly income of roughly PKR 8000 (Approx. USD 39). At the same time, her colourful naras fetch up to PKR 800 (Approx. USD 4) apiece.

Though herself illiterate, Gauri is not unaware of the advantage of education. She enrolled her son in the local school, saw him through primary education and then sent him to the middle school at Ramsar village seven kilometres away. Though government schools do not charge tuition fees, she still had to pay for books and other materials the child used in class. She met these expenses from her tailoring income. At the same time, she graduated from her hand machine to a second-hand foot-operated model.

When the time came, she enrolled her daughter in the village school. The girl progressed to the third grade and that was the end of her education because, as it generally happens in remote rural schools, the teacher went absent. The son, however, did well and in 2022 was sailing through grade eight in an Umerkot school. Gauri had set her eyes on his education to at least grade twelve. Then, she said with a laugh, she would wed him off. She said she had no connections and could not get him a job, so being married was an appropriate alternative.

However, one could clearly see the mother who would succumb to her son’s desire to continue his education beyond higher secondary level and make something of his life.

Attending the village school and the one at Ramsar may have been affordable, but since the boy could not commute out to Umerkot and back on a daily basis, he had to live in a hostel. That cost money. And for that Gauri toiled every single waking moment daily on her sewing machine and the drawstring loom. Even so, she would sometime have to borrow to pay the hostel in Umerkot.

The first instalment of food aid saved her a considerable sum from her monthly income normally spent on food. Judiciously, Gauri paid up at the school hostel. With her loud, happy laughter she says she splurged the remainder attending a wedding in her parents’ family. The next goal is to save enough to wed off her daughter in style. After all, the girl is already thirteen. Gauri listens attentively to advice on waiting until the child is at least eighteen and smiles the smile that says mother knows best.

This was the day before the second instalment of food aid was due in Rohiraro, the question that came naturally was how she proposed to use the money saved from the purchase of food. Gauri looked thoughtful when Ashar of CWSA suggested it would be a good idea to stock her tailoring shop with material. This would make for greater convenience for her customers and more business for her because then she could also earn reasonable margin on the material.

The way her eyes lit up shows that well before the Humanitarian, Early Recovery, and Development project ends, Gauri might have a proper tailoring establishment in Rohiraro. This would then be the only such business for miles around in this part of Desert area of Umerkot. That would mean real business for a person as dynamic as Gauri.


[1] Shalwar kameez is a traditional combination dress worn by women, and in some regions by men, in South Asia, and Central Asia. Kameez is referred to the long shirt and shalwar is the trouser.

Village Haider Shah Bhiont is just under fifteen kilometres southeast of Umerkot. But so far as Rano and her husband Jeevo are concerned it could well be in the bone dry Takla Makan Desert. Young and married only five years, Rano has borne her man two children and carries the third in her belly in the hope that her third child will be born under a favourable star and the 2022 monsoon and many thereafter will be generous. Only then their investment in their four-acre plot will bring dividends.

The past year had been a disaster for the land that is the only source of income for this couple. Every year all his young life, Jeevo has tilled the land and in July looked heavenward for the dark clouds that would spell prosperity. When that failed, he went to work in the city as an unskilled labourer. As the summer of 2021 drew to an end without a drop of rain, Rano and her man watched the barely sprouted crop of guar, mung and millets wither away into the sweeping sand taking with it their entire investment of PKR 29,000 (Approx. USD 142) for the rented tractor and 160 kilograms of seed.

Inured to adversity, the people residing in the desert area of Umerkot do not give up easily. Even when hardship multiplies. And this happened when Jeevo’s mother passed away. Mourners poured in from far and near and as is the tradition, Jeevo was obligated to house and feed them for as many days as they remained in his village. That cost money which was borrowed from the local money lender against the four acres Jeevo owned. When the final account was written down, his mother’s death had cost the poor man PKR 300,000 (Approx. USD 1472). This huge sum had been borrowed purely on speculation that it would be returned when next crop would be bumper.

In November Jeevo went to work in Karachi while Rano struggled to keep her little children fed by purchasing provisions on loan. When he returned home two months later, Jeevo had PKR 10,000 (Approx. USD 47) in his pocket. Half of this was returned to the shop keepers as partial payment; the remainder saved to purchase the sweet water tanker as Rano says they had always done in her five years in this village. Ground water in the village, she adds, is too bitter to be used for anything but washing up and bathing.

The first good thing to occur for Jeevo was in February 2022 when he got a job as a driver with a fixed salary of PKR 10,000 a month (Approx. USD 47). That meant now there would be no uncertain days as he waited to be hired as labourer.

The next blessing was the visit in March by the Community World Service Asia team and selection of Rano and Jeevo as eligible for food aid under the HERD project1. The first distribution of food saved them Jeevo’s entire salary which went to repay the shop keepers. Again half of it was kept aside for the purchase of the next water tanker.

In May, having received the second instalment of food aid, Rano was making plans. They were to save Jeevo’s salary to invest in their agricultural land in the hope that the monsoon will bring rain. But now there is hope and with it plans. As a reasonably good cutter who has never worked as a tailor because she dreams of owning a sewing machine she could never afford, she looks forward to mustering some funds. If the machine would be within reach, she could set herself up as the village seamstress.

Meanwhile, the huge loan taken against the land stares the couple in their faces. Four acres even in the desert areas of Umerkot is a reasonable holding and in a good rainy summer can yield almost half a million rupees worth of crops. If fortune smiles on them, they will not only be able to sail out of their debt with plenty saved and Rano established as the seamstress to the village.


1. The Humanitarian Assistance, Early Recovery and Development (HERD) project funded by Presbyterian World Service & Development (PWS&D) and Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB)

In November 2020, a health committee was established in Muzzafar Husain Shah village under Community World Service Asia (CWSA) and Act for Peace’s health project. “I became a member of the committee along with four other women and five men from our village,” shared Ganga.

The Village Health Committee, comprised of local community members, supports local health institutions and healthcare providers in meeting the village’s health needs. They also assist CWSA’s health team in organising project activities and events in the area. Since the committee’s formation, Ganga has actively advocated for the needs of the women in the community, coordinated committee meetings, and referred pregnant and lactating women to CWSA’s health centre in Pithoro, not far from her own village. “I have held sessions for women and girls in our community to improve their awareness on malaria, breastfeeding, diarrhoea, and other ailments frequently prevalent in our area. The main goal of the sessions was to impart information on preventative measures to make communities resistant to curable illnesses and diseases,” narrated Ganga.

Ganga lives with her husband and three children in Muzzafar Husain Shah village, located in Umerkot district which is in the south of Pakistan. Ganga’s husband is the sole income bearer for the family and works as a farmer for a nearby landowner. “The income of our family heavily depends on the output of crops, which is closely correlated with the availability of water, capital, and weather. Our family’s monthly income of PKR 12,000 (Approx. USD 58) is mostly spent on purchasing food and household essential, educational supplies, and unexpected family gatherings.”

“I believe education is key in building a better future. For this reason, I encourage my children to go to school and study hard. My eldest son, 15, is studying in Grade 9 while my two daughters are going to primary school.”

In December 2021, Ganga took part in a training on community management skills. “The training improved the health committee members’ knowledge and abilities, enabling them to effectively plan and manage developmental activities and make better use of the available resources for improved healthcare access of underprivileged families.” The training increased Ganga’s ability to identify health issues and work with line departments and civil society organisations to coordinate the effective delivery of health services to local communities.

The committee members bridge the gap between the community and the government health department. “Because of my active work in the area, I was nominated by the health workers working in the vicinity for Measles and Rubella campaigns, run by the government’s health department. As a mobiliser in the 15-day campaign in November 2021, our team educated people about the need to eradicate Rubella and measles in Pakistan. I have also participated as a volunteer in the COVID-19 and Polio campaigns.”

As a committee member, Ganga has imparted to the communities with knowledge and raised their confidence to advocate for their health rights and engage in meaningful conversations with relevant service providers to address the challenges related to healthcare provision in rural regions. “I am proud to be a member of the committee since this opportunity has improved my skills and allowed me to change lives,” expressed Ganga.

Community World Service Asia has partnered with Presbyterian World Service and Development (PWS&D) and Canadian Foodgrains Bank to implement a Humanitarian, Early Recovery and Development (HERD) program to support drought and climate change impact communities with food provision and sustainable agricultural inputs. The project aims to assist most vulnerable, rural agrarian communities in Pakistan’s rain-fed Umerkot District of Sindh. The target communities will receive immediate humanitarian support, followed by recovery and development assistance, to ensure their resilience is enhanced against future natural and man-made catastrophes.

A total of 1,125 drought and COVID-19 affected families have been provided with two monthly food packages under the project. They will continue to receive the food packages till August (to complete a period of six months). Each package has been designed in line with the Sphere minimum standards and ensures all family members receive 2100k calories each per day. The items include 60kg of wheat flour, 15kg rice, 7kg pulses, 6liters cooking oil, 4 kg sugar, 400gms tea leaves, 800gms iodized salt and of match boxes. Feedback mechanisms that are put in place to ensure quality and accountability mainstreaming have been explained to communities at various stages of the project. Communities have also been oriented on safeguarding and complaints response guidelines.

Through the provision of food packages, we aim to ensure food security of affected communities in various parts villages of Umerkot to increase their nutritional status and improve their general health. Most of these communities live in extreme poverty, with their primary livelihood of agriculture being affected by extreme weather conditions that prevent them from spending on the most basic food and health needs.

A Rapid Gender Analysis was conducted as part of the project to gather critical information and data on the local gender dynamics and the many challenges and needs that exist and potential goals and opportunities to explore and meet through the project. The analysis is a necessary first step in creating gender-sensitive, suitable, and successful programming. It is supporting in the development of practical programming recommendations to suit the needs of women, men, boys, and girls, as well as ensuring that execution does not unwittingly harm them. Additionally, an environment assessment has also been conducted to identify environmental impacts of different project activities and their possible mitigating measures.

The HERD project is a two years’ program started from January 1, 2022 with ten months of humanitarian phase and 14 months of recovery and development phase. The project will end in 2023.

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