USAID launches initiative to enhance women voter registration and participation in electoral processes [February 05, 2017] (CLOSED)
USAID Citizens’ Voice Project (CVP) launched Grants Cycle 12 on the thematic area of “Citizens’ Education and Mobilization for Women’s Voter Registration and Participation in Electoral Processes” on February 05, 2017. Under this initiative, CVP plans to award up to 50 nationwide grants across 75 districts of Pakistan with an objective to enhance acceptance and commitment to women’s voting rights by increasing acquisition of Computerized National Identity Cards (CNICs) and voter registration of women in a bid to increase women electoral participation for the General Elections in 2018.
Through this intervention, CVP will reach out to 3500 communities in the selected 75 districts by directly facilitating 350,000 women and indirectly facilitate another 350,000 women to register for CNIC. In order to achieve this goal, CVP will raise citizens’ awareness through door to door and capacity building sessions, engage volunteers from within the communities, as well as carry out media campaigns. Furthermore, CVP will also extensively engage in advocacy initiatives with political parties, community elders, elected representatives, and local government representatives as well. Similarly, the project will also enhance coordination between Election Commission of Pakistan and National Database and Registration Authority to improve the numbers of registered women voters on electoral lists so as to reduce voter registration gaps.
USAID launches nationwide initiative to improve women participation in electoral process [January 20, 2017]
USAID Citizens’ Voice Project (CVP) launched its Grants Cycle 11 on the thematic area of ‘Improving Women Participation in Electoral Process’ on January 20, 2017. CVP through this intervention, across 29 select districts of Pakistan, plans to award up to 28 nationwide grants to the eligible members of Free and Fair Election Network to nurture greater appreciation on the importance of electoral and political participation of as well as to increase stakeholder engagement to improve women registered voters on electoral lists by decreasing the voter registration gaps. To achieve this goal CVP aims to directly facilitate 500,000 women, and indirectly facilitate an additional 500,000 women to register for Computerized National Identity Cards (CNIC) by raising citizens’ awareness and understanding, especially of women and marginalized communities, through media campaigns, door‐to‐door mobilization efforts and so on. Furthermore, CVP will also extensively engage in advocacy initiatives with Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and other stakeholders including National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), political parties, elected representatives, and local governments to take special measures for curtailing the deficit of women voters ahead of the 2018 General Elections.
As acquiring a Pakistani CNIC is a prerequisite for voter registration and for casting the votes, therefore, CVP will work towards encouraging closer coordination between ECP and NADRA in addressing the male and female voter registration gaps. It is expected that as a result of CVP interventions, all newly registered CNIC holders will be added to the voters’ lists by August 2017.
Training of Trainers: Capacity Building of Elected Local Government Representatives in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa [July 14-21, 2016]
USAID Citizens’ Voice Project (USAID CVP), under its Grants Cycle 10 – Capacity Building of Elected Local Government Representatives, organized a Training of Trainers (TOT) from July 14-21, 2016, for its 8 partner organizations and selected trainers from five districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Abbottabad, Charsadda Mansehra, Mardan and Swabi – in Swat. The objective of this 8 day long trainings was to enhance the knowledge and skills of the first batch of 54 trainers on concepts such as ‘Resource Management and Transparent Budgeting’, ‘Local Government Laws, Structure and Functions’, and ‘Participatory Planning’.
This first batch of trainers will be rolling out further trainings to capacitate 14,000 district councilors, tehsil councilors, and village and neighborhood councilors, nazims and naib nazims from the five selected districts under the flagship of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Governance School (KP-LGS). Through this intervention, USAID CVP will contribute to the development of transparent, responsive, efficient and accountable democratic systems in the province. This TOT was conducted after Trust for Democratic Education and Accountability (implementing USAID CVP) penned down an understanding with the Local Governance School, Govt. of Khyber PakhtunKhwa on May 31, 2016.
Actively participating in the training sessions, TDEA Chief Executive Officer Shahid Fiaz distributed certificates among the participants of the training. Speaking on the occasion, he said, “Training of Trainers aims to improve the connection between the state and its citizens by helping elected officials design more informed policies.
The second 4-day training on ‘Local Government Laws, Structure and Functions’ was held from July 18-21, 2016. This training focused on educating the participants on the structure and functioning of KP local government, the current monitoring mechanism of local government (both internal and external), role of the local government in the imposition of Municipal laws and responsibility and the authority of local councilors. The training was attended by 27 participants (23 male and 04 female). A parallel 3-day training on ‘Participatory Planning’ was held from July 18-20, 2016 and was attended by 27 participants (23 male and 04 female). The training covered the various modalities on “Participatory planning”, its correlation with local government system and the social mobilization needed to conduct it effectively. This training also critically analyzed the role of councilors at the district, tehsil and village level so as to educate them in effectively adopting a participatory planning approach in their work .
Jameel Hussain, Chief of Party, USAID CVP, while engaging with the participants shed light on the core objective of the trainings by saying that, “These trainings aim to build the capacity of the elected representatives for designing citizen centric policies and interventions so as to improve the connection between the state and its citizens by facilitating the delivery of public services for Pakistanis”. At the close of the training on “Participatory Planning” he also distributed certificates amongst the participants.
Director, Local Governance School Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Barkat Ullah Khattak, while addressing the certificate distribution ceremony of training on “Local Government laws, structure and function” said, “after closely observing USAID Citizens’ Voice Project Training of Trainers, I believe the project is actually serving the citizens’ of Khyber PakhtunKhwa (KP). By producing a breed of trainers who will educate the elected Local Government Reps in KP, this training will develop an informed mass of LG representatives who understand the varying modalities of LG System and can also strategize to better serve the citizens.”
The participants of all the three trainings included 18 trainers each and 08 staff members of CVP partner organizations.
USAID CVP also organized a 1-day capacity building session on ‘Effective Communications’ for 08 partner organizations from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Swat on July 21, 2016. Through a tailored curriculum, especially designed to meet the communication needs of partner organizations, the training engaged the participants in planning for a winning communications approach by conducting a stakeholder analysis and employing the use of strategic communications to increase the visibility of their project achievements. During the training, the participants also gained hands-on knowledge on identifying and developing success stories, case studies, beneficiary testimonials and press releases. Moreover, the training engaged the participants in rich group work so as to understand the essentials of camera framing and still photography.
Through this training CVP aimed to help its partnering organizations to effectively showcase their achievements by producing convincing communication products that can bring about the desired behavioural change within the target audiences. The training was attended by 06 male and 02 female participants.
In order to highlight the significance of the ToT to its audiences, USAID Citizens’ Voice Project developed a press release for the event (in English and Urdu languages) which was circulated among local newspapers after acquiring due approvals from USAID. Full details of the published press releases can be viewed from the links below.
01: Daily Dawn
02: The News
03: The Nation
04: Daily Dunya
USAID Citizens’ Voice Project and Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Join Hands to Capacitate Elected Local Government Representatives [July 14-21, 2016]
The MoU for the capacity building of elected local government representatives was inked between the TDEA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa LGS on Tuesday, May 31, 2016, at the Local Governance School, Peshawar. The MoU was signed by LGS Director Mr. Barkatullah Khattak and TDEA Chief Executive Officer Shahid Fiaz.
One of the core objectives of USAID Citizens’ Voice Project (CVP) is to substantiate public debate and discussion for reinforcing citizens’ trust and confidence in government institutions. Interventions aimed at the capacity building of newly elected local government representatives in the provinces are a continuation of CVP’s efforts aimed at efficient, responsive, transparent and accountable local governments.
Under the MoU, the capacity of 14,290 local government representatives elected from Abbottabad, Charsadda, Mansehra, Mardan and Swabi districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will be enhanced. These include 436 district councilors; 451 tehsil councilors; 11,523 village and neighborhood councilors; and 1,880 village and neighborhood council nazims and naib nazims.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Barkatullah Khattak said: “The majority of local government representatives are first-timers. These training sessions will provide them with essential knowledge to perform their duties up to the mark.”
“The MoU aims to improve the connection between the state and its citizens by helping elected officials design more informed policies,” said Mr. Fiaz in his address. Fiaz also underlined the need for better coordination between the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and donor community to avoid duplication and create synergies.
Event Report ‘Showcasing Past, Present and Future of Citizens’ Voice Project’ [February 02, 2016]
USAID Citizens’ Voice Project (CVP) organized a showcasing event titled “Past, Present & Future” at Islamabad Serena Hotel on Tuesday, February 2, 2016. The specific objective of this event was to recognize and highlight the achievements of the project, particularly with regard to empowering citizens, capacitating civil society and strengthening state mechanisms to respond to the needs of citizens and civil society.
Mr. John Groarke, USAID Mission Director, and accompanying USAID representatives were greeted by Mr. Shahid Fiaz (Chief Executive Officer -Trust for Democratic Education and Accountability), Mr. M. Jameel Hussain Khan (Chief of Party – CVP) and Mr. Sahibzada Shah Saud (Director Programs CVP). The USAID representatives were given a guided tour of the hall displaying visual materials that highlighted progress, outreach and results of the project interventions.
The informational tour, led by Mr. M. Jameel Hussain Khan (Chief of Party – CVP), started with a brief documentary about the project. The documentary was played on a 14 feet wide video screen. The documentary informed the guests that CVP is a policy advocacy project, working with civil society organizations across Pakistan to promote good governance objectives in prioritized program areas. The documentary also highlighted the positive contributions made by the project in lives of
ordinary Pakistani Citizens. The documentary was followed by a 50 feet wide informational display wall that outlined the accomplishments of CVP, which has so far awarded 270 grants worth $13.2 million through 197 partner organizations. This information wall also assimilated a map of Pakistan that highlighting the district-wise distribution of projects with particular focus on governance issues in 19 multi-sectoral thematic areas of intervention such as water rights, municipal services, education sector, energy sector, tax sector, electoral reforms, FCR reforms, civil service reforms, youth development, responsible media, 18th amendment awareness raising on local government elections, legislative governance and transparency and accountability mechanisms. Some of the key statistics, reflecting the programmatic achievements of the project were sprinkled throughout the wall. The guests were pleased to note that CVP was soliciting and processing grants using an indigenously developed online system. Mr. Jameel also informed the guests that CVP intends to train around 17,000 elected representatives from local governments in Khyber PakhtunKhwa and Balochistan provinces. The ongoing nationwide campaign for pro-people reforms in Rules of Business and Procedures of legislatures was also highlighted. The guests also lauded efforts of the project partners in conducting the largest research exercise for evidence based advocacy for electoral reforms in Pakistan which is covering 40,000 households across 110 districts. A key output of this exercise will be interventions and infrastructure for general elections scheduled in 2018. Mr. Jameel also informed the guests that the project had reached out to almost a million Citizens of Pakistan through its interventions. Other statistics that were covered during the informational tour focused on highlighting the number of MoUs signed for public-private partnership, number of citizens capacitated for their voting rights and active citizenry, number of citizens’ groups formed for awareness and oversight, number of advocacy meetings held with legislators, number of government officials and political parties engaged, as well as number of complaints initiated and addressed through different redress mechanisms.
In addition to the Information Wall, there were three separate enclosures that correlated with the three objectives of CVP. Each of the enclosures was represented by selected project grantees and beneficiaries. The first enclosure of Improving Accountability was attended by Mr. Zahid Abdullah (Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives) and Mr. Umer Cheema (A renowned journalist benefiting from RTI law supported by – CPDI). Similarly, the second enclosure for Strengthening Voice was represented by Ms. Sania Khan (Humdum Development Organization) and Ms. Sarwar Bibi (Beneficiary – Humdum Development Organization). The third enclosure for Enhancing Capacity was represented by CVP’s training beneficiaries Ms. Nighat Anwar and Mr. Qazi Inam Ullah Khan.
The Plenary Session started with a welcome note by Ms. Melissa Rosser (Director Office of Stabilization and Governance, USAID-Pakistan). Subsequently, two project beneficiaries were invited on the stage to share their experiences in strengthening voice and accountability mechanisms. These beneficiaries, Mr. Iqbal Ahmed Bhurt and Mr. Fiaz ul Islam, were invited based on their substantial contribution to their communities.
The Government of Pakistan was represented by Mr. Sahibzada Muhammad Khalid (Chief Information Commissioner, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa). Mr. Khalid highlighted the joint efforts of USAID and Right to Information Commission to increase awareness among the citizens of Khyber PakhtunKhwa.
USAID Mission Director Mr. John Groarke congratulated Citizens’ Voice Project team and civil society organizations on their tireless efforts to empower the citizens. “USAID is contributing to improved democratic governance in Pakistan by strengthening the role of citizens in government planning and decision-making. Our efforts, by partnering with the vibrant civil society of the country, have facilitated in strengthening accountability and improving public service delivery for the citizens. The mobilization initiated by these interventions is a reflection of the American government and people’s commitment to ensure a stable and democratic Pakistan,” he said.
Mr. Shahid Fiaz (CEO-TDEA), shared his views on the partnership TDEA has developed with USAID over the last few years. “Through USAID Citizens’ Voice Project, TDEA has brought together Pakistani citizens and state institutions, thereby increasing the involvement and confidence of citizens in public decision-making processes. Citizens’ Voice Project has created spaces where private citizens can now voice their opinions and provide solutions that serve the greater good. I see myself and my organization as one of the many beneficiaries of the project. Along the course of the implementation of this USAID project, we have learned a lot, met many wonderful people, and developed the professional expertise to handle big projects and bigger responsibilities,” he remarked.
During the course of the USAID Citizens’ Voice Project, more than 5,000 young Pakistanis have volunteered in different interventions of the project. Mr. Groarke distributed certificates of appreciation among 10 of these volunteers. The event was attended by 132 male and 32 female participants as well as 15 media representatives.