|PROJECT TITLE||ENGAGING CHILDREN, YOUTH AND COMMUNITIES FOR THE PROMOTION OF SOCIAL COHESION & RESILIENCE (SCR) IN SINDH|
|DURATION||From 16-July, 2013 To 15-July, 2014 (12 Months)|
|LOCATION||District Malir Karachi & District Badin|
|BACKGROUND OF THE PROJECT / PROJECT AREA / NEEDS AND JUSTIFICATION||Pakistan is facing multiple challenges ranging from poverty, economic instability, poor governance and inadequate social services to terrorism, militant insurgencies, tribal conflicts and sectarian, ethnic and political violence. This has further widened the divide and weakened the social bond among different communities living in the country. Sindh, in particular, is suffering extremely from complex and multi-faceted conflicts resulting in major disparities, unemployment, illiteracy, insecurity and mistrust among the different segments of society.
Sindh is the 2nd largest province of Pakistan with a growing population of 55 million people in 23 districts. The province is home to approximately one-fourth of the country’s population. It has more cultural, religious, ethnic, social and economic diversities than any other part of the country. According to SCR Analysis report Sindh has the largest Hindu community in Pakistan, comprising 6.5% of the provincial population, and the highest number of Scheduled Caste. Christian, Ahmadi and other non-Muslim communities are also part of the province’s population. Ethnically, the population of Sindh is also diverse as it is comprised of Sindh is, Urdu–speaking, Baloch, Gujratis, Pushtoon, Punjabi and other ethnic groups. It has had a history of social harmony and high level of tolerance for diversity due to its deep roots of ‘Sufism’ and secularism. More recently, however, its diversity has led to significant ethnic and sectarian polarization and unrest in certain parts of the province especially Karachi.
The province has the highest ratio of urban population at 48.75%. Many immigrants from the rest of Pakistan live not only in Karachi (which is the country’s largest economic hub and capital of the province) but also in other parts of Sindh. Karachi city is a large and dense form of human settlement within which a wide range of communities live. Unplanned urbanization has not only changed the physical environment, but has also changed the fabric of social life greatly which shows decline of social bonds and harmony among communities. However, this factor is not the sole ‘contributor’ to the complexity of the situation in Karachi. Violence in Karachi does not have any one particular reason. The city is infected by militancy, ethnic and sectarian conflict, land mafia, gangs and criminals, amongst others. These conflicts are not limited to only Karachi and other urban areas of Sindh but rural areas especially North Sindh and coastal belts are also affected from conflicts. Tribal disputes in rural areas such as district Badin have become a continued source of tension. Such tribal feuds and related killings have resulted in the closure of education facilities and other social services, discontinuation of social gatherings, worsened law and order and the displacement of people from conflict zones, as reported in SCR Analysis report. South Sindh especially desert areas and coastal belts such as Badin district have highly marginalized and socially excluded communities comprised of Muslims and Hindu minority. Issues related to land grabbing and exploitation of fishermen by influential coupled with lack of social services as well as low socio-economic indicators has posed serious threats to social cohesion and harmony in the coastal areas of Sindh.
In brief, Sindh province is adversely affected by ethnic and linguistic conflicts, tribal feuds, political and sectarian violence, terrorism, land mafias and criminal gangs and victimization of religious minorities. Same has been verified by SCR Analysis Report, This no-cohesive and volatile situation is further fuelled by widespread economic adversity (poverty & unemployment), weak governance, inadequate social services inclusive of education, protection as gender disparities. These conflict drivers have not only weakened social cohesion but also eroded community resilience. Weak governance and justice system coupled with poor law and order situation have contributed to widespread resentment and a lack of trust between communities and administrative authorities at local and provincial level. Similar lack of engagement of communities is reflected in education which has an instrumental role to promote social cohesion in the society.
According to SEMIS (2010-2011) Report, there are 6.4 million children (5-9 years age group) and 59% of these children are out of school in Sindh. Almost 40% children enrolled in public schools will eventually drop out. Dropout rates are very high and enrolment rates are not very encouraging due to multiple reasons, including teacher absenteeism, poor teacher quality, prevalent corporal punishment, children finding schools to be unattractive, socio-economic factors, community’s disengagement with schools, etc. The situation has been exacerbated by the massive damage to basic infrastructure, including school facilities, caused by the devastating 2010, 2011 and 2012 floods. These floods essentially paralyzed educational activities in large parts of the province and impacted on children’s, especially girls’, access to quality education. All of these factors contribute towards a very high number of dropouts and out of school children in the province. The out of school children particularly are at more risk of being victim of militant groups, criminal gangs, violence and social exclusion.
Therefore, it is important to address the conflict drivers in the province of Sindh so that social cohesion and harmony can be promoted to build and rebuild peaceful and resilient communities in Sindh. Furthermore, the above stated situation explains the conflict drivers and related problems; however, this does not mean that the province of Sindh inclusive of Karachi faces only serious challenges. The province has also lot of opportunities and great potential to promote social cohesion and harmony. Substantial number of youth population indicates the great potential for initiating a ‘change’ in this regard. Sindh has also a legacy of peace, tolerance and respect for diversities which is a strong ‘connector’ for the promotion of social cohesion.
Education is not only a key to human development but it is also a fundamental right of all children. Right to access to quality education for both boys and girls should be realized in all circumstances even during the time of disasters and conflicts. Education not only provides knowledge and skills that help to encounter challenges of life for being protected. In the long run, it can also develop values and attitudes that prevent conflict and promote peace, tolerance and social harmony in the society as education plays an instrumental role in shaping the behavior of children.
Therefore, education’s potential for building the capacities of children; youth (in school and out of school) and community members need to be channelized to prevent, reduce and cope with conflict. This will ultimately contribute to a better environment to promote social cohesion, equality and peace in Sindh. Furthermore, indigenous and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms can be used as means to promote cohesion and increase understanding of conflict resolution in their communities. The proposed PCA aims to achieve this with the meaningful engagement of respective stakeholders in two districts of Sindh (i.e. Badin and Karachi – Kiamari Town) under the framework of UNICEF Pakistan’s SCR Program.
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