ISLAMABAD, Jul 19 (APP): The Pakistan Humanitarian Forum (PHF) Annual Report launched here on Wednesday unveiled its progress throughout the year highlighting that its member organizations (INGOs) implemented 400 projects throughout Pakistan including AJ&K and Gilgit Baltistan with a dedicated 296 projects providing humanitarian assistance, particularly in response to 2022 floods, and 104 focused on development interventions.
These initiatives, worth over $330 million, benefited more than 21.2 million people across the country emphasizing the importance of long-term recovery and efforts.
Pakistan Humanitarian Forum (PHF) serves as an independent and registered organization, acting as a voice for international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) in their engagements and coordination with the Government of Pakistan, UN agencies, humanitarian actors, and civil society organizations.
It represents 42 INGOs and 8 affiliate members, including the National Humanitarian Network (NHN), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and IFRC/ICRC in Pakistan.
In his opening remarks Country Coordinator, PHF Syed Shahid Kazmi provided a brief overview of the forum and its efforts in compiling the annual report.
He said the PHF Annual Report launch was a regular event where the forum was established in 2003 as a platform of international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) which at present comprised of 42 international organisations approved by the government of Pakistan.
“The annual report is a tedious process in that we gather information from all 42 member INGOs. It takes 3-4 months to collect data,” he said. He thanked the international donors and partners contributing to the cause.
A documentary screening of the PHF Annual Report 2022 was also showcased depicting relief and humanitarian efforts, testimonials of partner organisations’ heads sharing their experiences and comments on the flood response.
A panel discussion was also moderated by PHF Country Coordinator, Syed Shahid Kazmi. Country Director, of Save the Children, Muhammad Khurram Gondal, Country Director of International Rescue Committee, Shabnam Baloch, Executive Director, of Muslim Hands, Syed Javaid Gillani, and Country Director Helvetas, Dr Arjumand Nizami expressed their comprehensive insights on the flood response 2022 and humanitarian efforts made by the PHF partner organisations.
USAID Country Director, Rachel Grand in her keynote address said the US deeply appreciated PHF’s leadership for coordinating flood response as its contributions were very important.
She also applauded PHF partners’ perseverance while facing challenges in relief and humanitarian efforts.
“We are proud of US’s long-standing partnership with international organizations. US-Pakistan Green Alliance is an effort to jointly learn from experiences for energy shift, environmental conservation and other issues.”
Rachel Grand added that the US understand the depth of underdeveloped countries facing a climate crisis and its USAID was supporting climate-smart technologies in agriculture and water.
Jo Moir, Development Director British High Commission said PHF is the eye and hands in the field whereas the vast population of Pakistan was extremely challenging to deliver services.
She mentioned that the British High Commission during its field visits to flood-affected areas witnessed the commitment of INGOs reaching out to far-flung areas.
“Floods last year are indicative of how climate change is taking place. We are working with partners on climate resilience, water governance and community development,” she added.
Julian Harnes, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator thanked PHF for its efforts and interventions.
He said over the last decade Pakistan faced two major changes one was a response to the humanitarian crisis that had been led by the government and Pakistani society. As it required different relationships with government, INGOs and national NGOs. However, the second major change was that earlier there was a major mistrust between NGOs that make the UN agencies’ work difficult.
“Ever-increasing trust between INGOs, national NGOs and the government has been witnessed. It is the area where we need to work in the future,” he added.
The 2022 floods, he said were an eye-opener for the UN and partner organisations as they unveiled challenges and difficulties faced by the local masses before the floods.
Julian Harnes said the humanitarian response globally is becoming difficult to justify the crisis faced and the assistance provided to address the situation.
“It is difficult for Pakistan to tap international funding and it needs to build upon national capacity on accessing financing opportunities.
The government of Pakistan needs to develop its own capacity and ability.”
He underlined the need to work on developing strong, effective and transparent mechanisms for channelling private funding and response from also Pakistani diaspora.
Chair Executive Committee PHF, Adil Sheraz thanked all the partners and guests for joining on the occasion.
He said 2022 has been a very challenging year for Pakistan. The INGOs and communities played a vital role in responding to the crisis.
“The INGOs community is working in every sector of the country from water sanitation to nutrition. However, 153 districts of Pakistan and millions of people were reached last year,” he added.
He urged the government to look into the problems faced by the INGOS related to their registration as per its law and policy.
He commended that the donor funding to the flood response was very timely whereas the UNOCHA and UN Resident Coordinator office did great coordination and support in the flood response process.
“Over 11,000 or more local people were hired by INGOs and over 90,000 supplies were procured from local sources. It helped in injecting funding to the local market.”
As a guest of honour, Federal Minister for Climate Change and Environmental Coordination Senator Sherry Rehman extended her felicitations on the report launch of PHF.
She said that the flood of 2022 was unprecedented throughout the century as there has been no such instance when one-third of the land was inundated.
“For miles, no one can see land even on the helicopter.”
She mentioned that all the donor agencies fully supported Pakistan whereas the PHF is and can be a lifeline for the vulnerable communities.
“Our country is known as one of the most philanthropic nations that needs to be channelized,” she noted.
Resilience, she said is the capacity to reface the crisis and rise again and protect and shield one’s self for life and generation changes.
“We created an important climate caucus in the Senate that has been very active and effective and I thank all the leadership for it.”
She demanded a major shift in thinking at all levels for a holistic paradigm change to achieve the goal of climate resilience and sustainable development, otherwise all humanitarian global and local organisations’ efforts will remain a peaceful meal.
“Within the country, the country development report is now the country climate development report that shows how we can redevelop our thinking on development and climate change.”
The Minister emphasised the need to bring gender into everything.
The push to mainstream gender is important because without gender inclusivity there is no concept of sustainable and inclusive development, she added.
“There may be no severe floods in the future but the risks to vulnerability will continue to rise.
The violence against women was a shadow pandemic as children and women are in the frontline of all predictions, disasters and fragility becomes a widespread condition,” Sherry Rehman mentioned.
Media, she said needs to understand that pointless statements was not going to hold water as climate never gets prime time in Pakistan whereas coordinated responses will be the only interventions that will have to be the only step to last.
The chief guest, Chairman Senate, Sadiq Sanjrani congratulated the PHF team for its successful launch of the annual report.
He said the 33 million flood-impacted population was supported by PHF whereas the good thing was that the local administration was on the ground and was assisted by the INGOs who were the first responders to respond.
“The INGOs are working with a great humanistic passion and spirit. However, Senate is to appoint two of its members at the PHF to take up the problems faced by the forum and its partners at the provincial and local levels on a fast-track basis.
It will help to form a One-window operation system for better coordination. PHF should consider itself as the member of the caucus of the Senate,” he said.
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) should engage PHF to get prime time for climate awareness and education, he suggested.
“There is a need for mass mobilization and education to protect mother nature for the coming generations. Senate will become the voice of PHF and humanitarian partners,” he said.
He urged the forum and its partners to hold a donor conference for Balochistan.
The event concluded with the handing over of the PHF Annual Report 2022 by the Chair Executive Committee of PHF, Adil Sheraz to the Chairman Senate along with souvenirs being presented to the guests.