Within the nation of Afghanistan, the total number of people who have been affected by conflict and war is difficult to ascertain. It is evident, however, that there are an increasing number of needs that must be met in order for the nation to move forward.
Many citizens are members of at-risk demographics. Some are among the poorest in the world and are facing uncertain futures unless they receive assistance from outside sources.
The Role of Non-Governmental Organizations
Some of the issues surrounding the rebuilding and redevelopment of Afghanistan stem from citizens’ distrust of government and daily insecurity. In these situations, the complexity of delivering needed services while attempting to build infrastructure and community is fraught with difficulty.
To bridge the gap between the government and populations that are at-risk, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) often provide both short- and long-term relief. In Afghanistan, the government has partnered with local grassroots organizations to handle reconstruction and redevelopment, as well as reaching some of the world’s most vulnerable groups.
Afghanistan National Solidarity Program
One of Afghanistan’s most successful programs has been the Community Development Council (CDC). Throughout the nation, there have been 35,000 new community councils established under the direction of the Afghanistan National Solidarity Program. In addition, it has funded nearly 90,000 projects within the country.
Not surprisingly, the National Solidarity Program is one of the largest of its kind in the world. The strength of this program is seen in the way that citizens are empowered to make decisions and participate in their own governance.
Rather than view the individuals being served as beneficiaries, the NSP considers them participants.
Another strength of the program is the sense of ownership that participants feel. While thousands of schools have been burned down across the nation, only one school located where a community development program exists was destroyed. According to the NSP, this points to the success of the program and the power of community.
A sampling of some of the projects undertaken by NSP within Afghanistan are an indicator of the scope of its dealings with the people. Its projects are dual-purposed, designed to give both immediate and long-term assistance in core areas of life.
- Road repairs in the Kabul district provide safe, reliable transportation for locals and travelers.
- A hydropower station has been built in the district of Kama, providing jobs and a reliable power supply for the villagers. A local villager was so supportive of this project that he donated the land for the hydropower station to be built on.
- Disease in the Nangarhar province was the side effect of an inefficient and polluted water supply. An innovative system was developed and implemented to provide clean, safe drinking water.
- To combat a pervasive lack of safe drinking water, the Parwan Province built and maintains a water tower, providing water for over 700 families.
- The Jafarak Village overcame environmental issues to establish a fish farm, providing both jobs and resources for the surrounding community.
- A health clinic that will service 25 villages is being built in the Tontonzar Orati village. Constructed and supported by the residents of this village, it is a much needed source of medical care.
- Construction of roads that connect villages not only makes travel safer, but also provides reliable access to other services. Within many regions in Afghanistan, roads are being constructed and maintained using funding from the NSP.
- Schools servicing over 1,000 students have been built in local communities. They often run in two shifts to accommodate the number of students, and they are vitally important to encourage the rebuilding of Afghanistan.
- Community meeting halls are being built, giving residents a location for meeting and working together to improve the conditions of their districts.
These projects are simply a highlight of the work being done by NSP in Afghanistan. By working with the nation’s residents, it is able to provide training and direction that will sustain the nation in the future.
Not only does this NGO provide education, healthcare and jobs, it also provides a new way of life for many in Afghanistan. It has established a proven method of reaching people who are at-risk and helping them not only survive, but thrive. Much remains to be done, but because of groups such as these, the future is bright.