Afghanaid is an international charity that operates only in Afghanistan. We work alongside Afghans in the most remote and marginalised areas of Afghanistan, to help them meet their survival and development needs.
Afghanaid serves marginalised and vulnerable men, women and children throughout Afghanistan.
1993 - 2002
In 1992/93,Afghanaid helped 437 families in Kapisa province to rebuild their war damaged homes. Each family was provided with roof beams, doors and window-frames, once they had rebuilt the walls of their houses. As well as helping with the rebuilding of homes, Afghanaid built flood protection walls to protect the newly built homes from damage during the flood season.
During 1993, many refugees began returning to Afghanistan from Iran. In a joint programme with Christian Aid, Oxfam, the Refugee Council and the United Nations,Afghanaid assisted over 5,500 families in returning to their homes. Each family was provided with shovels, buckets and pick-axes to help them rebuild their lives. Later families were given wheat enabling them to survive the first months as they worked to get their farms going.
Afghanaid began beekeeping projects to help families increase their incomes and improve their standard of living. In 1992 and 1993, fifty colonies of bees were purchased in Pakistan and transported to Badakhshan in the far north-east of Afghanistan. Before distributing the hives, 20 farmers were trained. A two week course had been planned but the farmers were so quick and keen to learn, that everything was covered in a week. Most of the hives were sold to local families for a nominal charge, but many more wanted to buy them. The hives were an instant success. By late 1994, the number of hives had been increased to 98, shared among 28 families. Honey production from the hives totalled over one metric tonne. Since then beekeeping has become an integral part of Afghanaid's long-term programme in Badakhshan.
Crisis in Kabul
During 1994 over 8,000 people - mainly civilians - were killed and 100,000 injured in Kabul. Hundreds of thousands were trapped in the city without adequate food and shelter.
Afghanaid supported the work of CARE by contributing food, blankets and tarpaulins for families. In an effort to prevent the outbreak of diseases such as cholera, Afghanaid later supported CARE's water and sanitation programme in Kabul. By September 1994, engineers had restored a supply of clean water to thousands of families in the most densely populated areas of the city. Afghanaid's contribution helped over 10,000 residents.
In 1995, Afghanaid raised £12,000 to build the first Regional Physical Rehabilitation Centre in Afghanistan. Located in the grounds of the hospital in Taloqan, the capital of Takhar province, the centre provided prosthetic limbs and physiotherapy for disabled people, many of whom were victims of land mine accidents.
Food Emergency in Badakhshan
Drought and disease over a number of years devastated harvests and claimed the lives of farm animals, leading to a serious food emergency in the province. Many families faced starvation over the harsh winters. Afghanaid responded to the emergency by improving the road between Badakhshan and the neighbouring province, Takhar. This enabled food to be imported and reduced transport costs. Local people employed on the project were paid in wheat. Afghanaid also set up low cost projects to increase the production of cereal grains and started an animal health programme to ensure the survival of as many animals as possible.
Afghanaid’s New Strategy
In 1996, Afghanaid moved its headquarters and senior staff from London to Peshawar in Pakistan in recognition of the increasing amount of work being done inside the country. In the same year the trustees decided to change the long-term focus of the work from emergency relief to the rehabilitation of infrastructure and rural development. A new strategy was launched with a focus on helping those Afghans in greatest need. At this time, Afghanaid was working in five provinces, but by mid-1996 had decided to focus on Badakhshan, one of the poorest provinces in Afghanistan.
Pilot Project on Community Priorities
Under its new strategy, Afghanaid began to respond more directly to the priorities of local communitiesfor assistance in their villages. We carried out a major survey in three remote districts of Badakhshan and following this a pilot project was set up in three villages in Ishkashim district. Meetings between Afghanaid staff and village representatives identified the major problems in the area and trial projects were set up. These included food production, the widening of dirt tracks, road and bridge repairs, tree planting and health education training for women. The pilot project was highly successful and the model was used to implement Afghanaid's current "Community Development" approach.
Village Organisations Key to New Approach
Following the success of the pilot programme,Afghanaid began a community development approach to all of its programmes. We established Village Organisations (VOs) as decision-making bodies. Through these groups we set up wheat banks, health education, income generation projects, veterinary care, and agriculture programmes.The VOs also decided on engineering projects and contributed labour and materials, alongside Afghanaid's technical expertise and equipment, to carry them out. After 2003, many of these village organisations were replaced by Community Development Councils set up under the Afghan Government's National Solidarity Programme (NSP).
This community focus was used to drive an integrated programme of economic and social development in the rural areas. Support was delivered through training and technical support services in the fields of agriculture, animal health care, women's vocational training and literacy, community-level infrastructure (bridges, roads, micro-hydro power, etc.) and micro-finance in poor rural villages. Afghanaidprovided new varieties of wheat and other crops, as well as a range of improved fruit trees, on demonstration farms across the province and provided fertiliser to farmers at cost price, leading to substantial increases in agricultural productivity, particularly on irrigated land.
Animal Health Programme
Afghanaid’s animal health programme in Badakhshan was headed by a qualified vet and provided a service to farmers through a system ofparavets and basic veterinary workers or BVWs. The paravets had six months’ training and were capable of diagnosing and treating simple illnesses. They were provided with the medicines and supervised the BVWs, who carried out the vaccinations and provided basic care. The system proved a very cost-effective way of reducing animal losses and was later reproduced in Samangan and Ghor.
Women’s Resource Centres (WRCs)
In the mid-1990s, Afghanaid set up ‘mobile’ women’s resource centres (WRCs) in Badakshan to provide a space for women to meet, to improve their literacy and awareness of health issues, and to learn vocational skills. Training in tailoring and embroidery was later expanded to include training in small business management and computer literacy. The model was subsequently replicated in Samangan and Ghor provinces and WRCs were later set up under the NSP in some districts.
Afghanaid was among the first agencies to respond to the two devastating earthquakes which hit northern Afghanistan in February and May 1998. Working jointly with other organisations, we sent wheat, biscuits, tents, wood stoves, plastic sheeting, milk and medicines. Later we funded Oxfam's work, rebuilding houses and improving sanitation in the affected areas.
Work Starts in Three New Provinces
In 1999, Afghanaid began work in two districts of Nuristan province – Kamdesh and Barg-e-Matal –to the south of Badakhshan and close to the border with Pakistan. The following year, after a detailed survey of local needs and other actors working in the area, we began work in Ghor province in north western Afghanistan and Samangan province in the north central region. All these provinces were chosen because they met Afghanaid’s criteria of being remote or impoverished and short of assistance.
Security Issues – 9/11
Despite the fragile security situation in Afghanistan before and after the 11th of September 2001, considerable efforts were made to complete most of the planned projects. Afghanaid continued throughout this period with its community development programmes and engineering programmes.
In the winter of 2001-2002, Afghanaid distributed food, blankets and emergency aid to some 350,000 Afghans. We provided a milking goat and kid to nearly 3,000 elderly individuals in the drought struck highlands of Ghor. We also provided basic building materials, so returning refugees could repair damaged housing in the town of Paghman outside Kabul. Despite heavy fighting in much of Afghanistan, Afghanaid’stwo hundred field staff worked in severe winter conditions, providing relief for emergencies in the period following the international intervention.