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Situation Alert: Heavy Snowfall, Avalanches, Flash Floods Rip across Afghanistan

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  • February 27, 2015

Heavy rains, snowfall, avalanches and flash floods have led to loss of lives, injuries and destroyed a significant number of houses across Afghanistan. The central and northeast regions appear to be most affected, with strong winds causing avalanches in Salang pass, Panjsher and Bamyan provinces. However, it is expected that rain will convert to snow from west to east across Afghanistan due to colder air in the region. Weather forecasts indicate further precipitation and temperature to fall to -7ºC in central Afghanistan and -12ºC in the central highlands. While the numbers of casualties and damages reported by the local and international media are unconfirmed since rescued personnel are yet to reach the worst affected areas.

Additionally, heavy loss of agricultural infrastructure and livestock is also reported from different parts of the affected provinces. Several assessment missions are taking place across the country to develop a more accurate picture of the loss and impact on humanitarian needs, including the number of people affected. Currently humanitarian assistance is ongoing in accessible areas.

Students Explore Rights and Gender in Afghanistan

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  • November 5, 2014

“I really like attending summer camps. It is very interactive and good learning for us. The best thing I like is taking part in role plays and group work because this teaches us the importance of team work,” shared Sakina, a student.

In October, Church World Service-Pakistan/Afghanistan organized a three-day camp for fifty girls and ten female teachers at a school located in Surkhroad District, Nangarhar Province. To improve the quality of school curriculum in Afghanistan, this camp aims to raise awareness and build capacity of students and teachers on handling key social, political, cultural, and human rights issues. Through a participatory approach, participants were encouraged to express their thoughts and talent during group discussions, art work, speeches, and role plays.

Advocacy Endeavors by Civil Society Organizations

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  • November 5, 2014

Thirteen professionals, engaged in advocacy based projects, participated in a comprehensive nine-week course on Action Research. The course was designed to nurture a culture of research in civil society organizations. Participants were introduced to the basics of research which enabled them to independently design and undertake small research initiatives. 

CWS-P/A in collaboration with academics from different universities designed the course modules involving two residential workshops followed by research assignments accompanied by online support. “Lack of academic discourse in the development perspective has been the missing link in the development projects. Action research course has definitely added to bridge this gap,” shared Ihsan Ullah Khan from Norwegian Church Aid.

CWS-P/A received a letter of gratitude from the Livestock Department Kohat for its poultry distribution to displaced and host communities, aiming to improve livelihood.

Continuous insurgency and military operations in the tribal areas of Pakistan has resulted in a huge influx of displaced families in Kohat and surrounding areas. CWS-P/A’s initiative aims to address the challenges of livelihood opportunities and other basic necessities for the displaced and host communities. With assistance from female village committee members, CWS-P/A identified 70% of IDPs and 30% of host families for receiving the poultry package. A total of 400 families received ten crossbreed hens and two roosters along with a cage equipped with a drinker and feeder.  Training on backyard poultry farming and poultry feed were also provided.

Online Discussion with OCHA on Floods

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  • November 5, 2014

On October 14, 2014, the ACT Pakistan Forum members, Church World Service-Pakistan/Afghanistan and Norwegian Church Aid, facilitated an online discussion with Annette Hearns, Deputy Head of Office, UNOCHA. The first of its kind, this online discussion organized at CWS-P/A’s Islamabad Office, enabled ACT members worldwide to hear firsthand the post-flood situation and ask questions. 

Ms. Hearns described the situation as it stood a month after floods devastated parts of Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, Punjab, and Sindh provinces. Describing the different needs in various provinces and underlying differences such as levels of preparedness and existing vulnerabilities, she expressed how great the needs are despite marked improvement in the implementation of early warning systems. She was pleased to announce that the Multi-Sector Initial Rapid Assessment had finally been approved by the Government. According to the MIRA report, conducted in Punjab, a majority of the relief needs were being covered; however, recovery efforts are critical. She also reported that the government has requested UNDP to conduct a recovery needs assessment and the World Bank and Asian Development Bank to conduct a damage needs assessment.

Post-flood health vulnerability should be alarming

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  • October 24, 2014

Recent assessments by the humanitarian community indicate that the post-flood health situation in Pakistan is deteriorating. Scabies, diarrhea, and respiratory tract infections are significantly increasing. Dengue fever continued taking its toll as the number of cases reached an alarming 9,402 in Punjab on Friday, October 19.

Nearly two months after the floods devastated parts of the country, stagnant water remains a major factor in health risks. Inaccessibility to proper water and sanitation facilities coupled with poor hygiene practices increases the prevalence of illness and the spread of diseases.

Pakistan’s health system is insufficient to meet the health needs of the population; public health expenditure is only 1.0% of GDP.[1] Government health facilities have the main responsibility for providing health services, but they often lack qualified staff and infrastructure. The weak health system is overburdened. Parallel to the public health system are private health facilities which are only accessible by the middle and upper classes due to cost.

Challenging Social Discrimination through Youth Leadership

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  • October 22, 2014

Church World Service-Pakistan/Afghanistan held its second workshop with university students on the issue of social discrimination against religious minority communities, attended by 26 students from the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad.  The four-day workshop was held at O’Spring, Murree, and explored the ways in which minority communities experience discrimination at a social level.  The students all have extensive experience in the creative arts, with a range of backgrounds including photography, theater, music, film, art, and dance.

Dr. Atif, who has been facilitating CWS-P/A’s partnership with the university, shared that both he and the students initially had some concerns about attending the session.  After the introductory workshop held on campus, some of the students had been afraid that the purpose of the project was evangelical, and they had been resistant to the concept of religious discrimination.  However, Dr. Atif confirmed that these fears have now been resolved.  “The facilitator let the students speak, and the concerns about religion were addressed very well.”

Dr. Atif remains convinced of the importance of the project for his students.  “I have experienced discrimination, and I had a choice to either close myself off or try to break the cycle.  Everyone has a right to peace and happiness.”  Dr. Atif viewed the premise of the workshop as a gateway to addressing discrimination more broadly in the future.  He believes that by addressing discrimination against religious minority groups, awareness will also be raised about existing prejudices across society and the ways in which ethnic, linguistic, and economically marginalized communities face discrimination.  He feels that the message of tolerance will be well received by other students on campus and that the action planning included in the workshop is a valuable way to support the students to maintain their efforts.  “There are so many things we can do,” he says.

Capacity Building: Monitoring and Evaluation Training

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  • October 22, 2014

In September, CWS-P/A organized a three-day workshop on monitoring and evaluation for participants from various civil society organizations and NGOs within Pakistan to enhance their knowledge on the topic. The training, including an in-house session for Helping Hand for Relief and Development (HHRD), was attended by 48 participants in Islamabad and Hyderabad. Through a mix of lectures and group work, the participants received knowledge on basic concepts of monitoring and evaluation and developed an understanding in using Logical Framework Matrix (LFM) as a planning, monitoring, and reporting tool. The workshop was designed based on expressed interest from civil society organizations and NGOs to ensure that the capacity building opportunity was in line with skills and organizational requirements for enhancing monitoring and evaluation as a way to improve effectiveness of initiatives with communities.

Focus was placed on effective tools to aid in monitoring and evaluation which are further used to track progress and facilitate decision-making within an organization. While the participants actively engaged in group activities involving designing efficient and effective programs and activities that reinforce comprehensive monitoring and evaluation systems, they also received guidance from the facilitator, Ms. Rifat Shams. These activities and programs additionally benefit organizations to determine priorities and develop strategies through best practices and lessons learned.

Empowering Girls through Education in Afghanistan

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  • October 22, 2014

CWS-P/A has been promoting and facilitating girls’ education in Afghanistan since 2009.  The Taliban regime specifically targeted the education of girls, claiming that it was against Islam, and threatening parents who wished to send their daughters to school, teachers who wanted to teach them, and even the girls themselves.  Many schools were attacked and destroyed throughout the country.  Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, huge achievements in education have been made, with enrolment increasing from 900,000 to an estimated 8.1 million in just ten years (UNICEF figures).  This progress is a testament to the commitment of the people of Afghanistan to the rebuilding of their country.  Ahmad Gul, an experienced male teacher, explained, “In the last three decades, there was no education because of the destruction. Now, people are getting educated, especially girls.  Without education, people lost everything. Now, everyone is very motivated, teachers and communities, although there is still a problem with girls’ education, because when a girl gets married, her income [earned as a result of her education] will go to her husband’s family.”  Poverty and cultural conventions continue to present challenges, but the dedication of these teachers to providing quality education is evident.

However, a strong climate of fear remains.  Many parents are still afraid to send their daughters to school out of concern for their safety.  60% of schools do not have secure buildings, and for many in remote areas, the walk to school alone is too great a risk.  The lack of female teachers also discourages many parents from enrolling their daughters due to cultural traditions which make it inappropriate for girls to be taught by a man.  This of course creates a self-defeating cycle whereby a lack of female teachers prevents girls from becoming educated, which in turn means that there is a lack of girls with the education to become teachers and fill this gap.  In addition, the poor quality of education, due to a lack of resources and an absence of teacher training, results in high rates of absenteeism and of dropping out altogether.

Pakistan Floods 2014

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  • October 22, 2014

In early September, heavy monsoon rainfall resulted in widespread damage in various districts across Punjab. At the same time, heavy downpours coupled with landslides contributed to colossal destruction in Azad Kashmir.  Recent updates from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) recorded 2.53 million people affected, 367 deaths, and 673 injuries owing to the devastating floods. In Sindh, over 65,000 evacuations helped families in the katcha areas while 267 villages were reported to be affected. Overall losses to the country’s economy are estimated by the ministries of national food security and research, finance, and some economic experts to be 14-15 million USD.

This table represents other losses that occurred in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Kashmir, Punjab, and Sindh:

Houses damaged

Villages affected

Crops affected (acres)

Cattle perished

Shops destroyed



2.412 million



As rains and landslides continued to create havoc in parts of Azad Kashmir, CWS-P/A swiftly reached affected areas to assess the situation. In Bagh District, an immediate week-long response was initiated to meet health needs that benefited 793 people with medical consultations and free medicines. Women benefited from ante and postnatal care, and children under five received age appropriate specialized care such as vaccination. Additionally, health teams conducted health education sessions to raise awareness among affected communities.

Sphere Focal Point Forum

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  • October 21, 2014


Church World Service-Pakistan/Afghanistan in collaboration with The Sphere Project organized the 2014 Sphere Focal Point Forum in Bangkok from Oct 14-15. It was jointly financed by The Sphere Project, Diakonia-Sweden, Act for Peace, and CWS-P/A. As the Sphere regional partner for Asia, CWS-P/A supports the promotion and implementation of the Sphere standards through a variety of activities including this regional forum, which is the second of its kind. The first Forum took place in 2011.

“The Sphere community in Asia has grown; there are now around 11 country focal points as compared to 6 in 2011. The diverse nature of Sphere country focal points which includes organizations, academia, networks, and working groups is certainly adding a lot of value to the whole Sphere community and the focal point system in particular,” shared Shama Mall, CWS-P/A’s Deputy Director.

The Forum demonstrated the importance of promoting Sphere standards in disaster and conflict-prone situations, while increasing local ownership and creating a momentum among people who believe in the Sphere standards.


Pakistan’s emergencies require action before problems grow


Matt Hackworth +1.908.420.8630

Lesley Crosson +1.212.870.2676

Marvin Parvez +92.300.826.4558

Church World Service is calling for increased assistance to 1.7 million people who are coping with losing homes, livelihoods, access to food and clean water following devastating floods, before a lack of assistance creates more complex challenges.

“We recognize Pakistan presents political challenges and its continuous struggle with natural disasters may force people to turn away,” says CWS P/A Director Marvin Parvez. “But there are still mothers, fathers and children struggling to survive. There are real people with incredible needs.”

Estimating losses

Estimates from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) caused by floods in Pakistan which made way in early September and caused devastation in provinces including Punjab, Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, and Sindh are indicated in the table below:



Affected population

Damaged houses

Affected villages

Affected Crops (acres)

Cattle Perished








Overall losses to Pakistan’s economy could be 14 – 15 million USD as per estimates made by the ministries of national food security and research, finance, and some economic experts.

The Sindh forest department recently said around 40,000 acres of forest area is likely to submerge in water as a result of the present floods. Recent news sources further said that estimated high flows of 700,000 to 800,000 cusecs downstream in Guddu during floods are needed for reforestation in the riverine areas. The riverine forests act as natural barriers against dykes, avert soil erosion, and break the speed of flood waters. At present, Sindh’s barrages have low to medium flood levels.

CWS-P/A is organizing a 5 day multi-agency course titled "Enhancing Quality and Accountability throughout Project Cycle Management" in humanitarian action and non-emergency with entry points to technical sectors such as Water, Food, Shelter, Health, Education, Child Protection, Livestock and Livelihoods, Markets and Financial Systems etc. on January 19th – 23rd, 2015 in Bangkok, Thailand.

This course is a unique opportunity for all agencies, as it is focusing comprehensively on Joint Standards and is being promoted for the third time in the region. It aims to gather professional humanitarian workers from INGOs, NGOs, UN, donors, universities and government agencies from around the world who are leaders in promoting and implementing approaches for enhanced quality and accountability (Q&A). It will also allow individuals to understand the significance of linkages between various standards and assist agencies in collaborating and coordinating with various actors towards a common goal.


The methodology will be very participatory, allowing participants to be involved in a dynamic way at all times through presentations, debates, experience sharing, group work, learning pairs, writing workshops, design of proposals and recommendations, etc. The course will be conducted in English - Sylvie Robert has designed this course and would be the main facilitator, with Rizwan Iqbal, co-facilitator from CWS-P/A.

Increasing Accountability Using Sphere Minimum Standards

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  • September 25, 2014

A three-day training to enhance the capacity of humanitarian workers on Sphere Minimum Standards was organized by CWS-P/A in Kabul, Afghanistan. Twenty-one participants representing international and national non-governmental organizations (I/NGOs) in Afghanistan learned the usage of Sphere Minimum Standards in order to ensure quality and accountability in humanitarian action.

The participatory approach of the workshop employed a variety of learning methodologies to address both classroom learning and sharing of good practices. Through interactive discussions, group work, case studies, competitive games, lectures and videos, participants acquainted themselves with the usage of the Sphere Handbook. Particular emphasis was placed on the project cycle with linkages to technical interventions. They learned to utilize this tool for improving quality and accountability of humanitarian actions by sharing, learning, and practicing. “Every participant had an opportunity to ask questions and share their experiences. Practical exercise helped us to explore how to use the Sphere Handbook,” shared Namatullah, one of the participants.

Empowering Children to Become Change Agents

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  • September 25, 2014

“During my childhood, I witnessed a flood in my village. As I recall that day, everything was destroyed. After attending training on disaster risk reduction (DRR), I learned the causes of floods and how it has an impact on us. I also learned safety tips and saw flood simulation models. I feel very knowledgeable after attending this training, and I am very keen to share this information with my family, friends, and community members,” shared Bashir Ahmed, a ninth grade student.

One hundred fifty participants including students and teachers participated in DRR trainings organized by CWS-P/A during the month of August 2014. Students of different villages in Thatta stepped forward to establish School Young Children Safety Club. Comprising of an executive and general body, their aim is to continue practicing DRR activities at schools by disseminating information to create awareness.

Know Your Rights

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  • September 25, 2014

“Freedom of information is a fundamental right and the touchstone of all freedoms.” United Nations General Assembly, 1946

Good governance cannot be offered to the citizens without offering them the right to information which is considered as oxygen for responsive democracy. Qualitative democracy is not just head counting of individuals but it has to empower, facilitate, and protect the citizens; life, liberty and essential rights. To follow and further inspect the actions of their government, citizens require accurate and timely information which enables them to have a meaningful say in decision making processes.

DRR: Sensitizing Communities in Afghanistan

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  • September 25, 2014

A one-day workshop on Action in the Front Line (AFL) organized by CWS-P/A was held in Masamoot Village, Alishang District, Laghman. Twelve AFL committee members participated in this workshop to comprehend the concept of disaster risk reduction. With assistance from the facilitators, participants developed a disaster profile of their villages with a hazard map in order to identify public places such as schools, clinics, mosques, roads, graveyards, hand-pumps, streams and rivers, etc. Areas highly vulnerable to natural disasters were also identified since this village is prone to floods, earthquakes, and extreme weather conditions.


As the flood emergency deepens in Pakistan, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) says 358 people have died and over 1.7 million people are affected in the country. In Punjab, 281 people have lost their lives, in Azad Jammu & Kashmir 64 people died, and 13 passed away in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Many women and children are in dire need of help. Many of them continue to remain without food, shelter, and are in need of health assistance. Saira from Azad Kashmir shares that she along with other community members continue to live with minimum support. She also shared concerns about families who worry about coping with winter in the coming months. “With nothing to warm them, life is going to get very tough especially for women and children in these tents.”

Saira says that some community members received tents from a local organization and food was supplied by philanthropists. As she emphasized about food supplies soon running out and that tents alone were not sufficient, she also stressed upon the absence of bathing facilities and latrines. Saira mentioned this added to the vulnerabilities women were already facing without proper shelter.

Situation Update: More Aid and More Long-term Investment

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  • September 22, 2014


Recent figures from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) indicate 346 deaths with over 1.7 million people affected. News sources share that the floods in Pakistan have affected 2.35 million acres of land. In Punjab, 617,774 people evacuated and in Sindh, 48,592 people evacuated from Sukkur and Larkana. The loss to public sector infrastructure is estimated to be over 10 billion rupees (USD 102,040,818 as per initial estimates. Punjab, commonly known as the bread basket of Pakistan, has witnessed severe damage to crops including rice, maize, sugar-cane, and cereal. Crops and livestock worth billions of rupees have also been destroyed. For poor families whose livelihood and food supply depend on seasonal crops, the loss is devastating and threatens food security, nutrition, economic stability, and access to other basic needs such as education and healthcare. Likewise, it highlights the possibility of food shortages and lower export trade for the economy. In Pakistan, millions of people either rent or sharecrop land from landowners. The increasing frequency of disasters makes it more difficult for farming families to escape poverty and the cycle of debt. Land on rent or the provisions of agricultural inputs from landowners are stilled owed even in the case of disaster, which exacerbates the challenges poor families already face.

The NDMA has also initiated work on the assessment of losses in flood-affected areas in collaboration with the United Nations. Assessment will be conducted in Mandi Bahauddin, Hafizabad, Chiniot, Jhang, and Multan to identify damages to infrastructure and rehabilitation of affected people.

According to the Inter Services Public Relations, 29 relief collection points have been set up by the army in major cities, including three in Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Additionally, consignments of five trucks containing 40 tons of relief goods were dispatched to flood-affected people on Sunday.

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