Mary Brooke, Nigel Brooke, John Brown CBE, Keith Howman OBE President, Azra Meadows OBE, Peter Meadows SQA Chairman and Rupert Wright. In the meantime, Dr John Earle MBE a retired medical doctor with charity experience in Afghanistan and Nepal has been invited to become a Trustee for one year.
2. Trustees expertise and gender balance
The trustees’ expertise covers a wide range of experience including law, business, the environment, and education. It also includes experience of working in developing countries – especially Pakistan. This experience and expertise extends over periods in excess of 25 years for each of the trustees, and provides an excellent basis for the conduct and regulation of the charity. It is hoped that this will become more equal in the near future. A medically qualified trustee is also needed. The ideal would be to appoint a medically qualified female to serve as a trustee. This is being investigated. HKCA does not employ Maureen Lines but has supported projects put to it by her from its inception.
3. Field Director – Maureen Lines TI
Maureen Lines has dual British and Pakistani nationality and has more than 25 years experience of working in Pakistan. She lives in Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (the new name for North West Frontier Province), and works there and in the Kalash valleys, Chitral. She has a small local staff including an office manager, driver, cook, and security personnel. The trustees’ gender balance is currently two female and five male.
4. Governance and operational systems
Good governance and appropriate operational systems are at the centre of any successful charity either large or small. The Trustees and Field Director place these at the centre of the Hindu Kush Conservation Association as witnessed by items 5 to 12. These are regularly reviewed by the Trustees and the Field Director by email and when necessary by telephone between the UK and Pakistan.
5. Objectives and Activities
The objectives of the charity are to support rural communities in the Hindu Kush, especially the Kalash, and are centred on improving community education, health, and living conditions. They also include responding to natural and man-made catastrophes, and ensuring the environmental sustainability of the region – especially the forests and associated fauna and flora. All of the activities of the charity are focussed on these objectives under the direction of the trustees and by the work of the Field Director and her local staff in the field.
6. Organisational structure
The trustees individually and collectively have responsibility for submission of the annual report and financial statement to the English and Welsh Charity Commissioners, for the newsletter that is circulated to supporters several times a year and for financial regulation of the charity. The trustees provide regular advice and guidance on the work programme as necessary. These responsibilities are continuously reviewed and assessed in relation to the month-by-month activities of the charity in the field.
7. Achievements and performance
The 2010 – 2011 year has been a momentous one for the whole of Pakistan and especially for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (N.W.F.P.). The floods that began in early August were totally unexpected and of terrifying intensity. Most of Pakistan was affected, with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa being particularly so. Current estimates are that the country has been set back ten years.
In Chitral and especially the Kalash Valleys, flash floods destroyed homes, eroded valuable agricultural land, and destroyed roads and bridges. At one point the Kalash valleys were cut off from the rest of Chitral. Supporters of the Hindu Kush Conservation Association contributed in excess of £15,000 in an unbelievably short time. This allowed the trustees to release funds almost immediately for the use of the Field Director. Working with the UN World Food Programme she was able to provide food and water for many starving communities, and to begin the process of repairing river retaining walls, roads and bridges. In these activities she was able to call on the help of many Kalash men, especially for bridge repair and opening up blocked roads. This work is continuing at the present time, although the worst of the disaster has now passed. A major project for river retaining walls has also been submitted to DFID.
On a longer time scale, the Field Director in consultation with the Trustees is planning to have a co-educational secondary school built in one of the Kalash valleys. This has been a long-standing request by local community leaders. The trustees are highly supportive of this venture, and have already begun to raise funds for its construction from supporters in the UK.
8. Field activities and reporting procedures
There is weekly and often daily email contact between the Field Director, and the Chairman and President of the trustees. This concerns short term or emergency items – as in the recent 2010 floods, and longer-term activities and planned developments such as the proposed building and staffing of the new secondary level school.
All the funds received by the Hindu Kush Conservation Association come from charitable donations from supporters of the charity. Fund transfer from the UK to Pakistan is undertaken on a monthly basis to a nominated bank account in Pakistan, with email dialogue being regularly maintained between the Field Director, Chairman and President. Financial reporting is undertaken on a monthly basis. The Field Director forwards itemised spreadsheets of monthly expenditure to the Chairman and President.
10. Collaborative work with other charities
Working with other charities has great potential benefits to a small charity such as the Hindu Kush Conservation Association. For example in the recent floods, the Field Director worked in the Kalash valleys with local people operating very successfully with the UN World Food Programme. The trustees are very much aware of the benefits of arrangements such as this, and are providing every encouragement to the Field Director to widen her collaborative ventures with relevant NGOs, governmental and international organisations.
11. Risk Management
Risk management is of vital importance in a geographical area such as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It includes management of risk associated with natural disasters of various sorts – earthquakes landslides, flash floods, and risk associated with local insurrections. Both of these risk elements occur periodically and can cause problems.
The Field Director and several of the Trustees have long-term on-the-ground experience of these issues. The risk levels are regularly monitored and acted on by the Field Director, where necessary with advice from the trustees. Specifically, security guards are needed at night in property in Peshawar and often in the Kalash Valleys, and security during travel by road between Peshawar and Chitral is assessed before and during each trip. Flights between Peshawar and Chitral are also sometimes used.
12. Overseas visits by trustees
During the year 2010 to 2011, two of the trustees – Peter Meadows (chairman) and Azra Meadows have visited Pakistan funded by DFID and the Scottish Government on rural community uplift programmes. These programmes are broadly complementary to the Hindu Kush Conservation Association’s programmes on rural community uplift. They also provide international and local travel and subsistence. No funds of the Hindu Kush Conservation Association are involved. The visits have performed the very important function of allowing up-to-date assessments of the general security risks to be made. They have also provided an opportunity to meet the Field Director and discuss risk assessment, current and potential future activities and current and future cost implications.
13. Potential links with terrorist activity
The charity has no potential or actual links with terrorist activity. The Trustees and the Field Director are very much aware of the issues and potential dangers in this context (see http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk/).
Peter Meadows, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Hindu Kush Conservation Association – July 2011