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INDIVIDUALLAND TRUST STRENGTHENS CITIZENS’ VOICE ON FREE, FAIR AND RESPONSIBLE MEDIA
Organizes Four Capacity Building Sessions for Media Personnel at Peshawar, Mardan, Charsadda and Nowshera Districts

The Individualland Trust in association with USAID Citizens’ Voice Project organized four One-Day Capacity Building Sessions for media personnel under the thematic area “Citizens’ Voice for Independent, Free and Responsible Media” in the districts of Peshawar, Mardan, Nowshera and Charsadda on August 20, 21, 22, and 25, 2014 respectively. The sessions were aimed at engaging the journalist community, media associations, civil society organizations and Local/Provincial Government functionaries within Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) on free and responsible media through informed dialogue and capacity building, which is one of the core thematic areas of the Citizens’ Voice Project.

A total of 88 people took part in the sessions, among them, 30 participated in Peshawar, 13 in Mardan, 15 in Charsadda and 30 in Nowshera.

The participants were informed about different aspects associated with professional career of working journalists and media personnel. The purpose was to enable the media houses and reporters to create real life scenarios by under taking practical assignments.

Post Evaluation Forms, prepared by the ILT team, depicted the level of interest of the participants who expressed deep interest in the topics pertaining to conflict reporting, free and responsible media along with the role, power and management of Social Media.

The working journalists and media house personnel were of the view that such trainings should continue and that media persons covering various beats (different assignments) should also be involved so that the dynamics of responsible reporting could be learned.

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DTCE EMPOWERS PEOPLE ON RTI, LOCAL GOVERNMENT SYSTEM
Holds Orientation Sessions in the districts of Mardan, Swabi and Sialkot

The Devolution Trust for Community Empowerment (DTCE), a partner organization working under USAID funded Citizens’ Voice Project, organized three district level orientation sessions on Right to Information and Transparency & Accountability in the context of Local Government Act 2013. The sessions were held in the districts of Mardan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – KP), Sialkot (Punjab) and Swabi (KP) on May 6, June 18 and August 8, 2014 respectively. The interactive sessions were aimed at motivating citizens to make good use of Right to Information (RTI) and were educated about their respective provincial RTI Acts and the standard format used for submitting a request with the concerned provincial officials.

During the sessions, a detailed list of Provincial Information Officers and Chief Information Commissioners was shared with the participants along with the working methodology of each Provincial RTI body. The trainers briefed them about the classification of information i.e. which information falls under the Right to Information category and can be obtained from Provincial Government Departments. An application format developed by DTCE was also shared with both the male and female participants, enabling them to draft a standard RTI request. Information, Education and Communication (IEC) material developed on Punjab Transparency and Accountability Act 2013 and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Right to Information Act 2013 was also distributed amongst the participants.

The orientation sessions were attended, among others, by government officials, media personnel, youth, ex-local government officials, lawyers and civil society representatives. A total of 182 people attended these sessions in which 141 were males and 41 females. The Mardan event was attended by 52 males and 16 females, Swabi session was participated by 36 males and 17 females while 53 males and eight females took part in the Sialkot program.

The participants in their remarks appreciated the DTCE’s and USAID Citizens’ Voice Project’s initiative for organizing such informative sessions. They acknowledged that such engagements with the public would help them contribute greatly towards an effective and accountable local government for a better future.

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SOCIETY FOR HUMAN ASSISTANCE AND DEVELOPMENT (SHAD), A PARTNER ORGANIZATION WORKING UNDER USAID FUNDED CITIZENS’ VOICE PROJECT ON “VOICE FOR EFFECTIVE GRIEVANCE REDRESS THROUGH OFFICE OF OMBUDSMAN” ORGANIZED LAUNCHING CEREMONY AT HOTEL SERENA, QUETTA ON FRIDAY, MAY 30, 2014

Society for Human Assistance and Development (SHAD), a partner organization working under USAID funded Citizens’ Voice Project on ‘Voice for Effective Grievance Redress through Office of Ombudsman’ theme, organized Provincial Launching Ceremony at Hotel Serena, Quetta on Friday, May 30, 2014. The purpose of the ceremony was to highlight responsiveness to citizens’ complaints through the offices of Ombudsman all over the province. Attendants of the ceremony included government officials, representatives of civil society organizations, Balochistan Bar Council members and media officials. The ceremony was chaired by Provincial Ombudsman Balochistan Mr. Muhammad Wassay Tareen. Fifty four participants including 2 women attended the event. The overall objectives of the SHAD’s under Citizens’ Voice Project were highlighted with special emphasis on citizens’ awareness regarding role and responsibilities of Ombudsman.


Syed Munawar Ahmad Shah, Director PMS Ombudsman stressed on effective utilization of funds under the project for mass awareness. He appreciated SHAD’s efforts at District Zhob, Sherani and Loralai and highlighted the significance of open access through public hearing (khuli kechri) where people can approach Ombudsman staff and have their complaints redressed.

Provincial Ombudsman Balochistan Mr. Wassay Tareen praised SHAD’s citizens’ awareness plan and expressed full support to the cause. He urged USAID Pakistan to help Provincial Ombudsman Balochistan for establishing offices at far flung districts of the province and emphasized the need of open access through public hearing (“khuli kechri).

During the ceremony, participants’ views were also recorded. It was suggested that lawyers should forward affected employees’ cases to the Ombudsman Office and that awareness campaign should continue after the project ends. Participants also highlighted that some of the Ombudsman’s roles overlap with certain laws. The participants thanked USAID Citizens’ Voice Project and SHAD for taking onboard all the relevant stakeholders for such an important initiative.

The significant nature of the event is expected to contribute towards strengthened citizens’ voice on improved and effective service delivery by the Provincial Ombudsman Balochistan in light of the participants’ feedback. While taking on board all the relevant stakeholders with consistent engagement during the project life, the number of sensitized citizens regarding the role and responsibilities of Ombudsman is expected to grow at local and regional level.

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