On 16th May 2022, Habib University students of the Social Development and Policy program presented their projects to Pathfinder International at Avari Hotel, Karachi. As a part of the Dharti Amar project, Pathfinder Pakistan published a Request for Proposals (RFP) which aimed at highlighting and addressing the link between SRHR (Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights) and Climate change within the communities in Tharparkar, Sindh. An important aspect of this project was bringing behavioral change through communication strategies. To address this, the students of the course ‘Introduction to Program Planning and Design’ developed multi-channel communication campaign frameworks, products, and advocacy tools, under the supervision of Dr. Shama Dossa, Associate Professor in the Social Development and Policy program.
The event was honored by the presence of Ms. Renuka Swami from UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund), Ms. Madiha Latif (Project Manager at Pathfinder International) and Ms. Manal Khan (Marketing, Communication & Learning Manager at Pathfinder International), Mr. Gulab from Sukaar Foundation, Mr Hameer from Baanhn Beli, and Ms. Lubna Kerai (Director, Resource Development at Habib University).
The first project, Aahung, catered to the issue of early age marriages. This group developed an interactive board game for families in Tharpakar, which would use diagrams and techniques that highlights the importance of a girl’s agency in decision-making at different stages of life. They also developed a training module for CBO staff, which would guide them regarding improving agency and facilitating the empowerment of girls in Thar.
Ms Renuka Swami from UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund)
Ms. Madiha Latif (Project Manager at Pathfinder International)
Manal Khan (Marketing, Communication & Learning Manager at Pathfinder International)
Following the similar issue of child marriages, the second group’s project which was called Bezarar, the term which means not harming or being harmed, developed an idea for a short animated film which would deliver sensitive and important information regarding child marriages and their link to education. It is anticipated to play in Pathfinder’s sessions in Thar as well as on social media platforms. The second communication strategy was the Ambassador Program training module. This strategy involved recruiting and engaging influential figures in Tharparkar and training them to act as direct agents of change within the community.
This group developed an idea for a short animated film which would deliver sensitive and important information regarding child marriages and their link to education.
Larkartar (Kahi suni baat) or word-of-mouth was the third group’s project that caters to the issue of the high incidence of maternal mortality due to climate-induced droughts in Thar. This project used the communal bond and verbal communication in Thar as their strength and developed tools associated with it. The first communication strategy was a Forum Theatre manual for community mobilizers which helps the mobilizers in engaging the community members to solve problems through organizing an effective forum theatre. Similarly, the second strategy proposed was a Radio show script that would inform the listeners on this sensitive topic and help them with techniques of adaptive farming.
The last group presented Giza that focused on the importance of nutrition in SRHR and its link to adaptive farming techniques. The first communication strategy proposed was the Vocational Training Module which would be implemented in the form of workshops and sessions. The second communication tool developed was an educational pictorial pamphlet which would use strong visuals to highlight the issue and assist in educating the community in Tharparkar.
Students presented comprehensive ideas with objectives, implementation plans, indicators, and budgets which they developed over the course of the semester. All ideas were appreciated by the jury for their context relevancy and culturally sensitive deliverables. Ms. Swami remarked, “Students of Habib University always bring in unique and innovative interventions.” Each group displayed an exemplary dedication and passion for assisting the communities in Tharparkar, which they developed over the years at Habib University.
This article was written by Kynzay Fatima, a Social Development and Policy major from the Class of 2023.