Afghanistan NGO history
Afghanistan is at a unique point in its history and has the opportunity to move towards long-term stability, economic prosperity and respect for human rights. The development of new and advanced Constitution and a legislative structure for Afghanistan provide a context in which accountable and responsible behavior can flourish and be recognized;
The None-Governmental Organizations are civil society actors and a strong civil society is essential to the development and functioning of a stable Afghan nation and state. And NGOs are committed to the development of Afghanistan and Afghan capacity; in which NGOs, as civil society organizations, emergency and development program implementers, continue to make important contributions with and for the Afghan people.
Since the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, national and international NGOs have played a crucial role in providing assistance to people in rural and urban communities throughout the country and to people in refugee camps in Pakistan.
Between 1979 – 1988
Immediately following the Soviet invasion, NGOs began programs to address the food, shelter and health care needs of Afghan refugees in Pakistan. In the early 1980s NGOs initiated cross-border programs into Afghanistan to address the basic health and livelihood needs of those Afghans in areas not under Soviet control. Cross-border programs working inside Afghanistan included education by 1984 and agricultural and infrastructure projects commenced in 1986. Throughout this period, “cash-for-food” projects sought to give Afghans in resistance-held areas the resources they needed to remain inside Afghanistan. During the 1980s many NGOs were also engaged in advocacy efforts to raise awareness in Western capitals about the plight of Afghans as both victims of military aggression and refugees.
Between 1988 – 1995
By the late 1980s, NGOs had begun to implement development activities — using development principles in a context of “chronic emergency” and political and security instability — in addition to providing emergency assistance. The changed political context and increase in resources for Afghanistan in the late 1980s led to a number of developments in the NGO sector. The number of Afghan NGOs grew rapidly, support for Afghan capacity building increased, and several NGO coordination bodies were formed, which focused on strengthening the accountability, standards, and professionalism of the NGO community and on coordinating to increase impact and reduce duplication of activities. During this period, many Afghan NGOs, and thousands of Afghans, built their professional skills in NGO-led training institutions with support from international NGOs. Coordinated standards were developed, particularly in the health and agriculture sectors.
Between 1996 – 2001
In the Taliban period, from 1996 to 2001, despite political restrictions, improved security in many parts of the country enabled agencies to work directly with local communities in remote rural areas. NGOs continued to coordinate closely with UN and donor agencies in establishing programming priorities and setting out agreed principles for the promotion of coherent and well-focused assistance to Afghans. The efforts of around twenty, mostly NGO organizations, to develop an improved set of learning standards for Afghan children, typified the cooperative approach during this period
The severe drought from 1997- 2001 exacerbated humanitarian need for many rural communities and forced new waves of displacement into urban areas, internal camps and refugee camps in Pakistan and Iran, While NGOs expanded their emergency activities to help these populations, they also continued their development programs.
Late 2001 – present
Following the events of September 11 2001, the working environment for NGOs in Afghanistan changed dramatically. In 2002, the return to Afghanistan of large numbers of refugees from neighboring countries required new emergency shelter and feeding programs. Following the fall of the Taliban, NGOs have, in coordination with the transitional Afghan authorities, increasingly sought to balance their emergency response work with longer-term reconstruction and development initiatives. The advent of an internationally recognized Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan has provided NGOs the opportunity to rearticulate the role of humanitarian actors, not as service contractors, but rather as mission-driven civil society organizations.