Raising the bar for local aid and development practitioners in Pakistan through...

Raising the bar for local aid and development practitioners in Pakistan through contextualised capacity strengthening

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The importance of project management in organisations cannot be overstated. When it is done right, it helps every department of the organisation run more smoothly. It allows teams to focus on the work that matters, free from the distractions caused by irrelevant tasks or budgets spinning out of control.

A Project Cycle Management (PCM) training was designed and conducted to impart practical skills and knowledge, and raise confidence and capacity on conceptualisation, planning, implementation, management and evaluation of humanitarian and development projects. Such trainings are conducted to enhance the capacity of NGOs in Pakistan, enabling them to better comply with regulatory bodies such as the federal Economic Affairs Division (EAD) and provincial Social Welfare Departments. Yasmin Khakwani was among the fifteen participants who attended the three-day residential training, which aimed to cover the various principles and terminology of project cycle management as well as the many stages and analytical tools used by humanitarian aid workers.

“Handling projects tends to be a daunting task. It requires a thorough understanding of project scheduling, planning, reporting, tracking, and the importance of project management. To become a competent humanitarian aid and development professional, one needs to have a detailed understanding of project management and its importance and the various roles it entails,” stated Yasmin, representing a local NGO in Multan. Yasmin has worked in the development sector for the past two decades, and she credits her mother, who is a development aid practitioner herself, for inspiring her to pursue a career in social services and development.

Last year, the PCM training provided Yasmin an opportunity to learn how to apply specific skills, new information, tools, and  procedures to project activities in order to achieve project goals. Our organisation lacked updated policies, concepts, and processes to manage a project from start to finish.  The training provided essential knowledge for staying current with project management trends and technologies. The session on donor management focused on developing a case for support, identify and assess prospective donors and how to match a donor’s interests and needs with your organisation’s mission and goals, structuring a successful solicitation, and response to ethical dilemmas. Furthermore, a group exercise on identifying challenges faced by NGOs at various stages of the Project Life Cycle allowied us to learn from experiences and come up with solutions.”

Upon returning after the session, Yasmin immediately started  revising their organisation’s policies on child safety, project operations, and resource management. “Our policies had become obsolete. We revised our policies to meet international standards, particularly our child protection policy, because we primarily work with children. In addition, I led a session within my organisation in which I highlighted significant takeaways from the training. Thirty people attended the session, including leadership, representatives from civil society organisations, and members of a district-level network.”

One of Yasmin’s key achievements  from the training was to secure their organisation’s first internationally funded project. “We upgraded our policy framework and aligned the proposal as per donor’s requirements and fulfilled all the proposal sections accordingly. Moreover, we compiled the proposal and got it reviewed by our board members as well. This was the first time we did this. After a thorough review, we submitted our proposal. Soon after, we got the good news of our project acceptance.”

“I plan to send the staff of SDO in future training events conducted by Community World Service Asia. I believe, such trainings are beneficial for the growth and development of local organisations who have limited resources to progress,” concluded Yasmin.