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Raheela Saad: Supporting Pakistan’s COVID-19 relief efforts through evaluation and auditing

Posted: 4 March 2021

Pakistan, Alumni, COVID-19, Experience, Impact,

This International Women’s Day, Australia Awards – Pakistan is marking the achievements of alumna Raheela Saad, who now works as the Director General of Capacity Development at the Office of the Auditor General of Pakistan.

During the pandemic, Raheela has been responsible for designing and implementing the evaluation and audit framework for COVID-19 response initiatives undertaken by the Government of Pakistan. Her work has included overseeing methodology and data collection tools to assess interventions at all levels of public sector engagement. This evaluation work is a crucial step by the Government of Pakistan to ensure that organisations involved in frontline responses for pandemic relief—such as the National Disaster Management Authority, National Command Operation Center and Provincial Health Departments—are working at optimal efficiency.

Raheela has also designed and delivered trainings for those employees of the Office of the Auditor General responsible for conducting these evaluations of COVID-19 response initiatives. She says that she felt “well equipped to design and deliver these trainings” as a result of the international certifications she has completed in adult training and her experience of being engaged as a mentor in the Australia Awards Mentorship Development Program in Pakistan.

Raheela Saad at the Australia Awards Mentorship Development Program in Pakistan

More broadly, Raheela’s primary responsibilities at the Office of the Auditor General are to develop the capacity of Government Auditors by identifying gaps and obtaining new knowledge for audits and evaluations. Raheela is particularly excited about developing new techniques and methodologies to audit gender, forensics, the Sustainable Development Goals and disaster management.

Raheela completed a Master of Project Management at the University of Queensland in 2006 through an Australia Awards Scholarship. She credits her Scholarship experience for enriching her with knowledge regarding the linkage between development and project management.

“My experience was mind changing and life changing,” Raheela says of her time in Australia. “It made me value diversity, inclusion and care for the environment, and gave me technical know-how to work on developing networks and benchmarks.”

Raheela’s Scholarship has supported her career progression. “My education in Australia enabled me to work at the very highest level of the GoP [Government of Pakistan],” she says. “I have managed national projects, worked in Disaster Risk Reduction and conducted performance evaluations of the development portfolio of the GoP, and worked on inclusive policies in the Prime Minister’s Office.”

In addition, Raheela’s study experience in Australia is continuing to shape the lives of those around her. “My daughter Zoya is now studying an undergraduate degree at the University of Queensland. So, Australia Awards has not only impacted my life, but also her choice in education,” she says.

The findings and evaluations of Raheela’s COVID-19 initiatives monitoring project will be presented to the Parliamentary Assembly of Pakistan in March 2021.

Raheela joins women around the world who are leading innovative responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are sharing her story as part of Australia Awards – South Asia’s International Women’s Day 2021 series, which acknowledges the achievements of women leaders and progress towards empowering women in our region.