The role of NGOs in Afghanistan as community actors
This year’s World NGO Day is a time to reflect on what NGOs continue to achieve in Afghanistan and to assess our future role as the country moves towards new scenarios – a possible peace process which could bring an end to the international military presence, reduction in donor funding and a different government. All these potential changes will have an impact on us as NGOs working with communities and as actors in civil society.
Last year ACBAR celebrated 30 years of activities as a coordination body for national and international NGO members. NGOs have provided assistance to communities in Afghanistan during some very difficult periods in the last 40 years. 2018 was another challenging year in Afghanistan – the drought caused widespread distress in many provinces and caused large numbers of families to displace to cities. Continued fighting and insecurity meant NGOs had difficulty in accessing many parts of the country and a record number of civilians were killed and wounded.
ACBAR believes that now more than ever, NGOs should continue to engage with local communities to identify their needs, to listen to their ideas and to channel their voices to donors and to the relevant authorities. NGOs should strengthen collaboration and linkages between programs in the humanitarian, development and peace sectors within the communities and geographic areas that we work to ensure more effective results. Without genuine commitment to engage people at community level, processes related to sustainable development will fail and accountability and transparency in aid programs will be lacking. This means greater advocacy with donors to promote multi-year, multi-sector programs that are designed to be flexible and responsive. Local communities often criticize multiple, short-term interventions which do not address the root causes of their problems.
We should continue to remember our vision in ACBAR - “Effective NGOs, stronger Communities”
ACBAR - the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief and Development - is an independent, national NGO bringing together 145 national and international NGOs working in Afghanistan and abiding by the NGO Code of Conduct which promotes transparency, accountability and the principle of Do No Harm.