News

Accountability Matters

Published in The News on March 27, 2017

Written by Shahzada Irfan Ahmed

Around 62 percent of Pakistan's urban and 84 percent of its rural population does not treat their water before consumption, and as a result millions of cases of diarrheal diseases are registered in hospitals. A large percent of deaths in the country can be attributed to drinking of polluted water. There is no doubt that unsafe drinking water is a cause of many diseases including diarrhoea, typhoid, intestinal worms, and hepatitis. It is also a fact that an estimated 250,000 child deaths occur each year in Pakistan due to water-borne diseases.

It is also estimated that more than 1.6 million (Disability Adjusted Life Years) are lost annually as a result of death and ailment due to diarrhoea and almost 90,000 as a result of typhoid. Inadequate quantity and quality of potable water and poor sanitation facilities are associated with a host of illnesses and a study conducted by UNICEF found that 20-40 percent of the hospital beds in Pakistan are occupied by patients suffering from water-related diseases. According to the Climate Change Vulnerability Index, Pakistan is considered as a high risk country.

Pakistan has the worst sanitary conditions in the South Asian region and its total economic impact amounts to a loss of Rs343.7 billion, which is equivalent to around 3.9 percent of the country gross domestic product (GDP). It revealed that 52,000 children die annually due to diarrhoea here. It also exposes that 14 million people still do not have access to safe drinking water and over 90 million are without improved sanitation. Approximately 50 million people defecate in the open and an estimated eight million people use shared toilets. The improved sanitation is critical for the reducing the risks of key diseases such diarrhoea, dysentery, cholera and typhoid.

Similarly, solid waste generation in Pakistan ranges between 0.283 to 0.612 kg/capita/day and the waste generation growth rate is 2.4 percent per year. Solid domestic waste is typically dumped on low-lying land. This land can be used for more productive purposes. Also, potentially valuable recyclable materials are lost due to dumping in this manner. Solid waste management is not only a big issue for large cities but small cities as well. There is no proper sustainable solid waste management system to collect 100 per cent household and factory produced garbage in cities and rural areas.

Recently, we have seen the formation of local governments in all the four provinces, the capital city and the cantonment areas. These governments are responsible to develop effective and sustainable systems of solid waste management, implement policies and fix responsibility on the polluters. But it is generally seen that the government departments having the requisite sources for service delivery do not always respond to the calls of these representatives in time, especially in far-flung areas. And there is no proof of whether they have completed a task or not.

In this regard, an interesting development and innovative initiative has been taken as part of a project named "Forming Digital Local Council (DLC) for Social Accountability of Public Service Delivery Departments at District Level". It is spearheaded by the Local Councils Association of the Punjab (LCAP) - an Association of the Local Councils striving for democratic local democracy since 2006.

Through this initiative, the LCAP has established a model of meaningfully engaging remotely located and dispersed local councillors through online Digital Local Council (DLC) in seven districts of Punjab (Okara, Sahiwal, Pakpattan, Vehari, Khanewal, Multan, and Lodharan) with the financial assistance coming from USAID.

Anwar Hussain, chief executive, LCAP, says initially 1,400 plus councillors have been engaged to use the digital local council system, where they can send complaints, highlight deficiencies, make suggestions, and do follow ups to get the social service delivery issues resolved with the departments concerned. They can send text messages, write details of the story and upload snaps and videos to flash the issues. They can use smartphones to upload these through an application developed for this purpose.

He says a username and password is provided to each of the members of the DLC, so they have access to the system, and can file the complaints, upload pictures and videos of the issues of service delivery. For example, if there is a heap of garbage lying in a village, the concerned councillors will take a snap and upload it in the system with time and exact location mentioned on it. It will directly go to the concerned district level department with a copy to the offices of the District Coordination Officer (DCO) and LCAP. The public health department, which is responsible for provision of clean drinking water and sanitation and the district health responsible to provide basic health to the people will receive complaints concerning them, Anwar adds.

He says the material keeps inundating their official emails inboxes and this builds pressure on them to resolve the issues. The best part is that the software application developed for this purpose records all this content and can be retrieved any time to evaluate the performances of government departments and officials.

It has been observed that some government functionaries are not happy with this system as this gives proof of how many times an issue was raised. The system also reports on how many issues have been responded and how many not and the time taken to respond. A comprehensive report can also be produced for presentation to the heads of government and bureaucracy as LCAP has record of all the requests made by the above 1,400 councillors.

Mian Hasnain Ali Ramdey, chairman of a union council, says the DLC initiative is a creative and innovative idea to integrate local development efforts using modern technology. "Now we do not need to go to the offices of the service providers again and again as it is now possible to share our concerns with these departments round the clock using this digital platform," Ramdey says, and adds that such an effective use of technology has not been witnessed in the past.

Similarly, Shabbir Hussain, chairman, Union Council 18, District Vehari, comments that in the absence of effective outreach and ignorance toward social service delivery, the DLC initiative is playing a great role. He says it is filling the existing gap to let the policymakers know when and where to take action. This initiative is also helping the councillors and government officials to enhance their skills to use modern technology to share information and plan better.

Anwar adds that under this project, the reports on missing facilities, delays and deficiencies are also shared with the media. The purpose of these press briefings is to sensitise the media and general public about these shortfalls in the service delivery at local level. Besides, shortfalls, or any improvement in the service system is also highlighted in the press briefings.

The copies of these reports are sent to the relevant district government departments. The DLC members can download all such reports from the LCAP's website. The focus of DLC is on major services of local councils such as drinking water supply, sanitation, solid waste management, health services, etc.

Against this backdrop, it is hoped that the basic issues of the people are highlighted and resolved and their complaints not pushed under the carpet. The complaint mechanism has changed; and now the focus shall be on bringing a change in the mindset of the government servants. This will happen once they realise they are public servants and not their masters.

The original article can be accessed from following this link: https://www.thenews.com.pk/magazine/money-matters/194616-Accountability-matters

Young women still pegged back by social barriers

Published in Express Tribune, October 12, 2017   Nearly 22 million girls in the country between the ages of 10 and 19 years of age are still facing multiple social barriers and access to education due to long-standing issues of poverty, cultural norms and even geographical isolation. However, some organisations are doing more than just talking about the problem, and are challenging some of these issues head-on. With October 11 marking the International Day of the Girl Child, an event was held in the capital by the US Embassy and USAID on Wednesday to highlight how local organisations throughout the country were improving the lives of girls through the Small Grants and Ambassador’s Fund Programme (SGAFP). “When girls are educated, they can make better futures for themselves, their families, their communities, and their countries,” said US Ambassador David Hale.   “The United States government invests heavily in educating and enabling girls; and through the SGAFP, the American people have worked with Pakistani NGOs to improve the lives of over a million Pakistani women,” he added. A documentary, “Second Chance at Hope,” was also screened which narrated the story of 288 girls in a remote area of Jafarabad in Balochistan where the local high school is too far. Students from the USAID-supported Anjuman Nawjawanan Charsadda performed the national anthem in sign language. Girls from a USAID supported orphanage presented a tableau performance on Allama Iqbal’s poem “Lab Pai Ati Hai Dua.” Although the grants listed under this programme are called ‘small’, their impact is enormous, said Saeed Ashraf Siddiqi, chief party of USAID SGAFP.  
... Read More

Women trade facilitation centres to be set up in Swabi

Published in Dawn, November 1st, 2017
SWABI: A project was launched on Tuesday to improve the living standard of the vulnerable segment of the community in Kalu Khan and Karnal Sher union councils of Razar tehsil here. The project, ‘Support Vulnerable Population of District Swabi’... Read More

LEAF’s solar energy project brightens rural lives

Published in Pakistan Today on July 26, 2017
  BADIN: Laar Environmental Awareness Forum (LEAF), Badin, in collaboration with Small Grants and Ambassador’s Fund Programme (SGAFP) has provided 1094 solar lanterns to 547 households of the union council Seerani and 10 flood lights, in the sam... Read More

USAID work lauded

Published in Pakistan Observer on May 18, 2017
An event was held here Thursday to acknowledge and celebrate the development work supported by the United States Agency for International Development's (USAID) Small Grants and Ambassador's Fund Programme (SGAFP). Through this activity, the United... Read More

Consultative dialogues held to help lawmakers formulate health policies

Published in Pakistan Today on March 2, 2017
Nur Center for Research and Policy (NCRP) recently concluded a series of eight consultative dialogues with over 200 stakeholders of the health sector hailing from both public and private institutions. The purpose of these dialogues was to develop a... Read More

KP police reforms halved crime rate: CCPO

Published in Daily Times on March 5, 2017
PESHAWAR: There is no one above law, it applies to everyone indiscriminately including citizens as well as implementers and legislators of law. Rule of law influences authority of law in the society. The three main areas/ pillars of KP Police ref... Read More

USAID’s socio-economic development projects showcased

Published in The News on February 24, 2017
The deputy speaker of the Sindh Assembly, Shehla Raza, appreciated and thanked the USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and the US government on Thursday for the assistance rendered in the matter of 53 grants worth $6.5 millio... Read More

Women’s role in LG institutions sought

Published in The News on February 23 , 2017
Lahore: Democracy is incomplete without ensuring women’s due political representation in local government institutions and decision-making process at the local level. These views were expressed by the speakers at a ceremony held to awards certi... Read More

Smart solutions: Information on Karachi only one click away

Published in The Express Tribune, January 21, 2017
  KARACHI: All the information you need on Karachi will be just one click away as NGO Shehri launched on Friday a project to compile everything you need to know about local governance. NGO Shehri – Citizens for a Better Environment has joined ... Read More

For Policy Making: Meeting Held On Public-Police Coordination

Published in The Express Tribune on July 20, 2016
PESHAWAR: The communities in K-P have a crucial role to play for the police to ensure a society free from crime and injustice, but they are unaware of the reforms police have brought about in this regard. This was stated in a press release on Tuesd... Read More

Minister Says Reform Act To Empower Police

Published in The News on July 28, 2016
  PESHAWAR: Minister for Local Government Inayatullah Khan has said the government is introducing the police reform act to empower the force.   Speaking as chief guest at a seminar titled “Strengthening Rule Of Law In KP” here, he ... Read More

USAID Facilitated Over 1.7m People Across Country Since 2010

Published in Daily Times on August 19, 2016
  LAHORE: An event, held at a local hotel on Thursday, showcased achievements of the Small Grants and Ambassador’s Fund Programme, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The programme, implemented by the N... Read More

Government Taking Steps To Ensure Enrolment Of Out-Of-School Children: Zakia Shahnawaz

Published in Pakistan Observer on August 19, 2016
Lahore—Provincial Population Minister Zakia Shahnawaz Khan said on Thursday that a massive job had to be done in different sectors and collective efforts required to manage things. Addressing the event of USAID’s Small Grants and Ambassador... Read More

Commission Proposed Amends To RTI Law

Published in The Frontier Post on May 25th, 2016
 PESHAWAR: The KP RTI law in the past two years has empowered citizen to ask questions from the public bodies and proving to be a hallmark for ensuring transparency and accountability in government departments, the Information commissioner Prof.... Read More

Participation Budget seminar for local input held

Published in The Express Tribune on April 13, 2016
Peshawar: Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Finance Minister Muzaffar Said has said that citizen participation in the budget-making process and expenditure tracking is essential for better financial management at the local level.He was speaking at the launching ce... Read More

Rise and shine: Need for inclusive education stressed

Published in The Express Tribune on April 15, 2016
Lahore: Speakers at an awards ceremony organised on Thursday emphasised the importance of inclusive education saying it had been adopted by the developed world due to its positive impact on the society, the economy and its ability to spur growth. ... Read More

Illicit Trade: WWF-P Praises LEAs, Wildlife Department

Published in The Express Tribune on March 12, 2016
KARACHI: The Word Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-P) has appreciated law enforcement agencies and the Punjab Wildlife and Parks Department officials for confiscating a consignment of 45 black-spotted turtles on March 8 from Faisalabad Internat... Read More

USAID Executes Women Empowerment Project in Abbottabad

Published in The Nation on March 10, 2016
Abbottabad: A USAID-funded project has been executed to empower women in Khukhriala area of Pattan Kallan in Abbottabad through Small Grants and Ambassador’s Fund Program Network for Human & Social Development (NHSD). According to press ... Read More

Pakistani Marine Resources Being Exploited by Indian Fishermen, Claims MSA

Published in The News on February 25, 2016
Karachi: Every month around 600 Indian vessels and fishing boats, most of them equipped with Global Positioning Systems (GPS), intentionally enter the Pakistani seas for illegal fishing, posing a major threat to our marine resources, said Commod... Read More

Workshop Calls for Curbing Illegal Wildlife Trade

Published in Daily Times on February 24, 2016
KARACHI: World Wide Fund (WWF) Pakistan initiated a four-day consultative and capacity building workshop to develop a strategy to combat illegal wildlife trade in Pakistan. The workshop is part of the project 'Combating Illegal Wildlife Trade'... Read More

Fading Songs From the Hills

Published in The Friday Times on February 12. 2016
Zubair Torwali describes efforts to conserve the acutely endangered Torwali language from Swat in northern Pakistan UNESCO categorises 2,473 languages into five levels of endangerment: ‘Vulnerable’ – not spoken by children outside the home;... Read More

Engro Initiates Reading Program

Published in The News on February 10, 2016
KARACHI: Engro Foundation, upon receiving a grant of Rs 22 million from USAID Small Grants and Ambassador's Fund Program, initiated a reading program in their 13 adopted schools of Qadirpur and Daharki, a statement said on Tuesday. Titled the ... Read More

‘Vulture Conservation Project’: Safe Zones Suggested for Vultures to Prevent Extinction

Published in Daily Times on January 19, 2016
KARACHI: Baanhn Beli and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) organised a workshop inviting stakeholders to put together a national vulture conservation strategy to catch the years of decline in the species number across Paki... Read More

Punjab Governor Praises USAID-funded IT Project to Empower Women

Published in Daily Pakistan on January 12, 2016
LAHORE (Staff Report) – Chairperson of the Punjab Commission on the Status of Women Fozia Waqar distributed certificates to 120 women graduates who completed an information technology (IT) internship program funded by the United States Agency f... Read More

Inauguration: Project for Coordination in Health Launched

Published in The Express Tribune, November 26, 2015
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Stay, watch and thrill

Published in The News on October 25, 2015
A new initiative, Taunsa Barrage ecotourism project offers endangered dolphin sighting and other attractions to tourists. It’s close to sunset and the grayish waters of River Indus in Taunsa Barrage are calm and the wind that was blowing fas... Read More

Digital preservation to the rescue of Pakistan's crumbling monuments

Published in Dawn on August 21, 2015
Our heritage sites are key to safeguarding a shared national identity and cultural legacy, but they are withering away. Cultural heritage sites in Pakistan tell a poetic tale of the history of this land, which goes well beyond its inception in... Read More

‘Revival of Suroz’ programme held at Lok Virsa

Published in The News on August 8, 2015
Islamabad:  As part of an effort to preserve Pakistani culture, a programme titled ’Revival of Suroz’ was held at at Lok Virsa Complex on Friday. ‘Suroz’ is a Bolochi musical instrument played with the help of a fiddle. It has colourf... Read More

USAID helping children to regain what’s missed

Published in The Nation on May 1, 2015
Kasur  - Since 2012, USAID Small Grants and Ambassador’s Fund Programme funded initiative has enabled 500 out-of-school children to accomplish primary education in 3-years. The last 1000 days of Amna’s life have been revolutionary, for in ... Read More

USAID Keeps The Hopes Alive In Suntsar

Published in Balochistan Express, April 24, 2015
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Saving Turtles: Project To Address Fishermen Concerns Over TED

Published in Dawn, August 11, 2014
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Deosai - The Last Sanctuary’ Screened At Pakistan National Council Of Arts

Published in The News, Sunday , April 27, 2014
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Female Farmers Reaping Benefits Of Latest Technology

Published in The News, April 22, 2014
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Education for All : 'I Won't Stop Till I Reach The Top'

Published in The Express Tribune, March 22, 2014
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Regional Integration: First Combined Rulebook For South Asian Exchanges Read

Published in The Express Tribune, December 24, 2013
South Asian Federation of Exchanges (SAFE) celebrated the completion of its USAID-Small Grants and Ambassador’s Fund Programme funded regional financial integration project during a meeting of regional stakeholders here on Monday. SAFE’s work ... Read More

Olson Inaugurates English Language Lab At SOS Children Village

Published in The News on May 23, 2013
The US Ambassador, Richard Olson joined staff of the SOS Children’s Village of Islamabad to inaugurate a new English language laboratory at SOS here on Wednesday. Established with a grant from the US Ambassador’s Fund, the new lab will enable ... Read More

Educating Women: In Swat, Over 2,000 Targeted In New Literacy Programme

Published in The Express Tribune, March 3, 2013
SWAT: A new project aims to make 2,000 women in the flood and militancy affected Swat-Kohistan region bilingually literate. They will be educated under a literacy programme which is being implemented by a local non-governmental organisation, Idara... Read More

Promotion of regional trade in South Asia stressed

Published in The Dawn News, March 2, 2013
The Managing Director of Lahore Stock Exchange, Aftab Ahmad Chaudhry, has emphasised the need for increased cross-border financial activities within the South Asian region to create strong intraregional links and an integrated economic region. Spe... Read More

New facility : For kids, English wont be a problem

Published in The Express Tribune, March 1, 2013
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Khaplu Palace Wins International Award

Published in The Dawn News, Dec 11, 2012
The 19th century Khaplu Palace, which has been renovated and turned into a residential building, has won the international award in poverty reduction. The palace, built in the 1840s by Raja Yabgo and renamed as Khaplu Palace and Residence (KP&R... Read More

Naya Jeevan Initiative: For Karachi’s Poorest, A Cashless Plan To Buy 24-Hour Healthcare

Published in The Express Tribune, September 6, 2012
KARACHI: In the slum of Sultanabad, tucked away between the city centre of Saddar and the prime land of  the port trust, lives a migrant population of Pakhtun, who live on the margins of society in more ways than one. It was small wonder then th... Read More

G-B Tour: USAID Team Visits Library And Irrigation Project

Published in The Express Tribune July 10, 2012
A delegation of senior The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) officials on Monday paid a visit to the municipal library of Gilgit, which received a grant of $30,000 under the agency’s Ambassadors’ Fund Programme recently... Read More

Adult education: Helping 11,000 women read newspapers, write letters

Published in The Express Tribune, May 16, 2012
As the chairman of National Foods Limited, Abdul Majeed was interested in the idea of providing his unschooled staff with basic primary education. He thought that if the staff was educated, it would have a positive impact on the quality of the comp... Read More

QMF striving to empower Thal women

Published in The Nation May 09, 2012
NOOR PUR THAL - The Quaid-e-Millat Foundation (QMF) has launched a programme in collaboration with the USAID to raise socio-economic condition of the women living in far-flung rural areas of Thal. QMF Chairman Malik Gulzar Hussain Jara said this w... Read More

Construction of Al-Amyn Girls Hostel in progress, people demand internet access

Published in Pamir Times March 30, 2012
Gulmit, March 28: The community in Gulmit is busy constructing a hostel for girls. Funds for the project have been provided by United Stated Agency for International Development (USAID), through the National Rural Support Programme (NRSP). The proj... Read More

US Consul General honours teachers on specialised course completion

Published in The Daily Times Sunday, January 22, 2012
LAHORE: US Consul General Nina Fite honoured teachers who completed a training course that will ensure that more children have the opportunity to attend mainstream schools. Consul General Fite was on hand at the Rising Sun and Education and Welfar... Read More

Work started on construction of Al-Amyn Girls Hostel Gulmit

Published in the Pamir Times, January 19, 2012
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Children See Their Wishes Granted

 Published in the The News on 28 July 2011
Six children suffering from some life-threatening diseases saw their wishes granted at an event organized by the Make-A-Wish Foundation Pakistan in collaboration with USAID on Wednesday. The residence of the US consul-general witnessed an unusual ... Read More

Make A Wish Foundation, USAID grant children’s wishes

Published in Daily Times, May 22, 2011
KARACHI: Make A Wish Foundation Pakistan in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) granted wishes of five children suffering from life threatening diseases. Wishes were granted at a graceful ceremony held ... Read More

In Swat, a home for those who lost everything

Published in The Express Tribune, March 26, 2011
SWAT: Apart from the already significant psychological plight of women and children caused by life under armed conflict and insecurity, thousands of orphaned children are still vulnerable to abuse, exploitation, discrimination and other forms of vi... Read More

USAID: Small grants for priority sectors

Published in The Express Tribune, December 10, 2010
LAHORE: The USAID launched its Small Grants and Ambassador’s Fund Programme on Thursday. An introductory seminar for the new programme was held at the Pearl Continental Hotel. The initiative will cover three programmes: the Civil Society Grants ... Read More

USAID to provide $90m for socio-economic welfare

Published in The News, December 7, 2010
KARACHI: Karachi The USAID (US Agency for International Development) has decided to provide funds worth tens of millions of dollars to non-governmental organisations so that they could launch projects aimed at improving basic social and economic co... Read More

"USAID/Pakistan has, in cooperation with the USAID Office of Inspector General, established the Anti-Fraud Hotline to provide an avenue for the reporting of fraud, waste, and abuse which may be associated with USAID funded projects in Pakistan. Complaints are handled with complete confidentiality and individuals are encouraged to report when corruption, fraud, waste or abuse may exist in the USAID/Pakistan projects. Reports can be filed anonymously via the easy-to-use Hotline (Toll free number 0800 84700); e-mail at complaints@anti-fraudhotline.com; fax at 021-35390410; postal address at 5-C, 2nd Floor Khayban-e-Ittehad, Phase VII, DHA, Karachi, Pakistan; and on the website www.anti-fraudhotline.com."

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