Afghanaid was set up as a British charity in 1983 to provide assistance to Afghans in hardship and distress. We opened our first office in Peshawar, Pakistan, to provide emergency relief to those fleeing Afghanistan during the Soviet-Afghan War.

The Tailoring Project

One of our first projects employed Afghan refugees - many of whom were disabled - as tailors, providing them with much needed income and providing refugee children with school uniforms. The project later became self-financing, employing 90 Afghan refugees. In 1989, 32,000 school uniforms and 17,700 school bags were produced. These were distributed by the United Nations to refugee children in northern Pakistan. The tailors also began producing covers made of foam and waterproof canvas for transporting refrigeration boxes containing vaccines. These were used by medical charities working in the area.

Responding to the Threat of Famine

Following a report on the threat of famine in Afghanistan, our efforts turned to food provision. The effects of war, a collapse in agricultural production, and the breakdown of distribution networks left communities facing starvation. We launched a cash-for-food programme with the aim of enabling people to stay in Afghanistan rather than become refugees in Pakistan. Between 1985 and 1987, teams of volunteers risked their lives to ensure aid reached those most in need. Afghanaid sent over £400,000 into Afghanistan, which fed more than 70,000 people. 

Ambulance Service Set Up

The effects of war devastated medical facilities inside Afghanistan. Expert medical attention was available at the Pakistan border, but it was estimated that three out of every four of the wounded would die before they reached it. Afghanaid set up an ambulance service to speed up travel times and provide a lifeline to the injured. Our ambulance fleet began operating along the eastern Afghan border, bringing civilian victims of the war to Peshawar for treatment.



Working with Other Charities

In 1987, Afghanaid played a leading role in the setting up of an umbrella group of British NGOs, the British and Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group, meeting regularly to discuss policy and advocacy in relation to Afghanistan. This resulted in the decision to produce a booklet, ‘The Afghan Tragedy’, to provide accurate information about the humanitarian and development needs of the country. Afghanaid has continued to support and work closely with BAAG.

Soviet Withdrawal and Food Emergencies

After the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, we began to expand our work inside Afghanistan. We also began working with other agencies to allow fast response to emergencies. In March 1989, in response to appeals for help from villagers who could not afford rising food prices, we ran the first emergency food aid distribution to areas around Kabul. In ten days, Afghanaid distributed 25 tonnes of wheat donated by the World Food Programme.

In Badakhshan, poor harvests in 1987 and 1988 forced many families to sell or kill their livestock. Afghanaid, working together with several other agencies, organised the rapid distribution of food, seed and fertiliser. This was the first significant work which Afghanaid carried out in Badakhshan, one of the poorest provinces in the country.

Restoring Irrigation Systems

Afghanaid began the task of cleaning and repairing irrigation canals, bringing water back to villages where supplies had been cut off by war damage. A major flood protection and irrigation programme was implemented in Kunduz province, employing over 200 local labourers. The largest project was the Naqi canal, which involved constructing an irrigation channel serving land equivalent to the size of 2,033 football pitches. A flood protection wall was also built to prevent water seeping out due to the erosion of the river banks. Over 1,200 families benefited from this project.