ACT Appeal Afghanistan: Recovery & Rehabilitation - ASAF-31

Originally published


Appeal Target: US$ 6,225,557
Balance Requested from ACT Alliance: US$ 6,204,821

Geneva, 18 November 2003

Dear Colleagues,

Two decades of war in Afghanistan - including the Soviet occupation and ensuing civil war, inter-ethnic conflicts, Allied bombing, severe drought and other natural disasters have destroyed the basic economic foundation of Afghan society. Due to this long term and complex emergency situation the assets and reserves of Afghans have vanished, lives have been lost and properties and houses destroyed or extensively damaged. Afghanistan is left impoverished and mired in an extended humanitarian crisis. The return of many refugees to Afghanistan has put further pressure on the limited basic services like health, education and other social services. The rebuilding of Afghanistan has proven to be a complex and time consuming exercise. The reconstruction efforts are being hampered as Afghanistan continues to be plagued by insecurity and warlordism and US forces continue to engage pro-Taliban elements in combat. Afghans are expressing frustration about the slow progress in rebuilding the war-torn country and that they are unable to see more tangible results of peace.

There is an immense need to assist in particular the most vulnerable sections of the population. The ACT members, together with their local partners, are in a good position to provide such assistance. Despite the decreasing security situation they are still able to implement activities around the country. This appeal reflects part of the work ACT Members Church World Service Pakistan/Afghanistan (CWS P/A), Hungarian Interchurch Aid (HIA) and Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), are implementing and wish to continue. The main focus of the interventions are reconstruction and increasing food and livelihood security for the most vulnerable people.

CWS P/A focuses on resettlement and income generation activities.

HIA activities include reconstruction and equipping schools and health centres, house reconstruction, psychosocial care and income generation activities.

NCA focuses on decreasing malnutrition through providing supplementary feeding, cash for work and income generation activities.

Project Completion Date:

CWS - 30 November 2004

HIA - 31 August 2004

NCA - 30 November 2004

Summary of Appeal Targets, Pledges/Contributions Received and Balance Requested

ACT Co-ord & Communic.
Total Target US$
Appeal Targets
Less:Pledges/Contr Recd
Balance Requested from ACT Alliance

Please kindly send your contributions to the following ACT bank account:

Account Number - 240-432629.60A (USD)
Account Name: ACT - Action by Churches Together
8, rue du Rhône
P.O. Box 2600
1211 Geneva 4
Swift address: UBSW CHZH12A

Please also inform the Finance Officer Jessie Kgoroeadira (direct tel. +4122/791.60.38, e-mail address of all pledges/contributions and transfers, including funds sent direct to the implementers, now that the Pledge Form is no longer attached to the Appeal.

We would appreciate being informed of any intent to submit applications for EU, USAID and/or other back donor funding and the subsequent results. We thank you in advance for your kind cooperation.

ACT Web Site address:

Thor-Arne Prois
Director, ACT Co-ordinating Office

ACT is a worldwide network of churches and related agencies meeting human need through coordinated emergency response.

The ACT Coordinating Office is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Switzerland.


Two decades of war in Afghanistan - including the Soviet occupation and ensuing civil war, inter-ethnic conflicts, Allied bombing, severe drought and other natural disasters have destroyed the basic economic foundation of Afghan society. Due to this long term and complex emergency situation the assets and reserves of Afghans have vanished, lives have been lost and properties and houses destroyed or extensively damaged. Afghanistan is left impoverished and mired in an extended humanitarian crisis. Government infrastructure, including the ability to deliver the most basic services like health, education and other social services has collapsed. The return of many refugees to Afghanistan has put further pressure on those limited services. The rebuilding of Afghanistan has proven to be a complex and time consuming exercise. The reconstruction efforts are being hampered as Afghanistan continues to be plagued by insecurity and warlordism and US forces continue to engage pro-Taliban elements in combat.

The government and the international community are making slow progress in rebuilding the war-torn country and Afghans are expressing frustration that they are unable to see more tangible results of peace.

ACT members Christian Aid (CA), Church World Service/Pakistan/Afghanistan (CWS P/A), Hungarian Interchurch Aid (HIA), Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) and the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), together with their local partners, are continuing to assist the people of Afghanistan in their efforts to rebuilt the nation and its communities. This appeal reflects part of the work ACT Members are implementing and wish to continue.

Afghanistan has a population that is currently estimated to be between 16,000,000 and 25,000,000, living in 32 provinces. Ethnic identity has, over the past three centuries, been a determinant of access to power. The Pushtuns, whose territory covers much of southern Afghanistan, have been the largest group, although they have not constituted an absolute majority. The current Afghan Transitional Authority (ATA) has a cabinet that is broadly representative of the ethnic balance of the country.

Pashto and Dari, a dialect of Persian are official languages of government. A majority of the ethnic groups espouse Sunni Islam, the primary exceptions being the Hazaras and the Ismailis who are Shi'a.

Afghanistan's economy is largely based on subsistence agriculture, with wheat the primary crop and a heavy reliance on livestock. There are significant variations from one part of the country to another and even from village to village in terms of agricultural output and, therefore, relative poverty levels. The illegal economy is extremely significant and draws largely on the smuggling of goods into Pakistan and on the opium trades together with timber smuggling. The production of opium is increasing as it offers an extremely attractive cash crop alternative to the farmers of the underdeveloped regions who suffer from continuing low wheat prices (exacerbated by the UN World Food Programme wheat distributions which undermine local production and trade).

Conflict and poverty dominate the recent history of Afghanistan and are intricately linked.

Conflict: Afghanistan cannot achieve sustainable development without the resolution of conflict, while instability feeds on social and economic injustice. Moreover, while conflict continues it is essential that development and poverty-eradicating initiatives are always analysed within the framework of conflict. It is possible that well-meaning development initiatives may contribute to deepening conflict or contribute to its continuation. The security situation has severely deteriorated in rural areas over the past six months, especially in the south eastern parts of the country, further hindering broad-based rehabilitation and long-term initiatives in rural areas. Consequently, the population in both rural and some urban areas are still in need of emergency assistance.

Poverty: In the absence of a comprehensive governmental system, it is enormously difficult to obtain accurate statistics in Afghanistan. The latest statistics suggest that Afghanistan remains one of the four poorest countries in the world and, comparisons of poverty related statistics from before the civil war to date, suggest that Afghanistan has deteriorated in terms of human development.

The indicators for under-5 and maternal mortality and life expectancy place Afghanistan among the poorest three nations in the world and have drastically decreased since 1960. Afghanistan also suffers from a lack of legally raised revenues and high unemployment.

Disaster and Emergency Statistics: It is not easy to provide statistics from government sources - updated statistics are hard to find in any sector in Afghanistan. So far, there are no registrations on the whereabouts of the returning population. It is not known how many families live in various villages and towns and how many of these are returned refugees and IDPs. However, the poverty is visible, and the high numbers of malnourished children are clear indicators that assistance is needed through yet another winter.

Gender and equality: The role of women remains a very sensitive issue in Afghanistan. ACT Members believe that women should be fully represented in all aspects and at all levels of the decision-making processes and participation in society and government.

Women have traditionally been excluded from playing an active role in civil society. Their positions in society have been limited in the extreme. Since the installation of the ATA, women have become more involved in society and decision-making (as evidenced by the 12.5% of Loya Jirga delegates that were women and the 30% of women currently being employed in the civil service). However apart from the women's portfolio and "traditional women's work" such as health and education, there are no women in high government positions. There is a fear that a return to extremist Islam will also revert women to their former position.

In rural areas, the positions and role of some women has not really changed: the conservatism of the rural population of Afghanistan will not allow it. However, ACT Members aim to include women, the poorest members of society and ethnic minorities by including them in the design, implementation, monitoring and review stages of every project at field, regional and head office level. But even this fundamental process will be a challenge, as some partners have no female staff.

ACT also aims to provide female education and vocational training and support the development of local women's groups.

History of international organisations' involvement: The aid community that operates in Afghanistan is comprised of four distinct groups: The UN agencies, the Red Cross family, NGOs, and international financial institutions (IFIs) such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. The number of NGOs operating in Afghanistan has increased enormously since September 2001 and the information thus far available from the Afghanistan Information Management Service suggests that the number of international NGOs is now in excess of 300.

Prior to September 2001, the UN system and the NGO network were responsible for broadly similar levels of programme expenditure. Post September 2001 the UN has had difficulty in adapting to the situation in Afghanistan and has played a variety of roles.

Current international involvement: Following the Bonn Agreement, the UN system was restructured under the United Nations Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA), which covers political, reconstruction and humanitarian activities. The co-ordination of government programmes is currently carried out by the Afghanistan Assistance Co-ordination Authority (AACA), with support from specialist UN agencies. Agency Co-ordination Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR) is the main NGO co-ordinating body.

ATA policies and strategy are now determined by the National Development Framework (NDF). The NDF maps a realistic way forward to rebuild the national economy. The implementation of the NDF is financially monitored and controlled by the National Development Budget, under the control the Minister of Finance.

There are shortcomings with regard to co-ordination, with donors having varying levels of interest in and commitment to Afghanistan, individual UN agencies preferring to operate independently of the UN Co-ordinator and NGOs being equally protective of their independence. Co-ordination and consultation should however be improved with the new Consultative Groups established by the ATA. The consultative groups are designed to ensure ATA, UN and NGO co-ordination and as much "buy-in" to ministerial policies and programmes as possible.

Funding: Funding for the new ATA comes from the international community at large. At the Tokyo Conference in January 2002, the international community pledged $4.5billion to Afghanistan over a five-year period. $1.8 billion of this total figure was to be delivered before March 2003 and the rest of these funds are to be made available throughout the rest of the period. Initial concern was expressed at the international community's tardiness in delivering their pledged funds, however all countries have delivered on the 2002/3 commitments.

However the needs exceed the present international commitments in terms of funds and security assistance. Relative small amounts have been released for rehabilitation and development purposes in rural areas, resulting in a lack of stability and a continued need for emergency assistance.

The international community expressed considerable concern about the capacity of the ATA to administer such large amounts of money. Consequently, approximately 90% of the 2002/3 funding went to the UN, NGO's and IFIs who were arguably in a better position to materially assist Afghans during the short-term emergency period.

There is recognition from many Afghans that external financial, technological, logistical and physical support remains vital for the success of the future of Afghanistan. Long-term commitment by the international community is essential for the survival of Afghanistan. In light of this, the level of financial commitments to Afghanistan by the international community at Tokyo in January 2002 were derisory: financial and humanitarian experts indicate that at least $10 billion is required over the next five years in order to give Afghanistan a real chance of reconstruction. Only $4.5 billion was pledged in Tokyo. Forthcoming Conferences of the international donor community are aimed at increasing the levels of monies pledged for the country's reconstruction.

Advocacy: The advocacy policy formulated under ACBAR and the Working Groups that have been set up to engage on the identified issues, is focusing on three key areas: Security, NGO Legislation and NGO Image. In confronting these issues sustained involvement and support are needed to raise advocacy concerns with policy makers internationally.

Political positioning and Security: Security in Afghanistan has been the overriding concern since December 2001. Security is the precondition for tangible reconstruction and development and provides the enabling environment that allows development professionals to do their job.

The ATA is fragile both internally (daily rumours abound of disagreements between ethnic and political factions within the Cabinet) and externally (with daily threats on personal security of Ministers and rumours of uprisings outside of Kabul).

Security outside of Kabul is precarious and insecurity is on the rise. US military camps have been consistently under threat of attack since their arrival, NGOs have noted a rise in attacks on their staff, and significantly, the UN has reported an increase in attacks on its staff, vehicles and buildings.

Relative security exists where the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) are operational. To increase the needed security over a larger area, the UN Security Council Resolution 1510 (2003), adopted on 13 October 2003, has authorised expansion of the mandate of the ISAF to support the Afghan Transitional Authority (ATA) and its successors in the maintenance of security in areas of Afghanistan outside of Kabul. When this resolution will actually be implemented and have the intended effect on the overall security situation is not yet clear.

Long-term Security: Most people recognise that the best and most appropriate way to address the insecurity is for the Afghan security forces (army and police) to establish the rule of law and order. However, the Afghan National Army still only has approximately 5,000 troops. The rates of desertion are high. At current rates of recruitment and desertion, the Afghan National Army will only reach its full complement (70,000 troops) in 25 years. Afghan deputy interior minister suggests that desertion and corruption have largely occurred because 'donor countries are not releasing required funds so we cannot afford to give policemen their salaries. Providing security and peace to Afghans is our priority. But we cannot do much with our pockets empty'.

ACT Co-ordination

The issues raised in the ACT Evaluation related to co-ordination and co-operation are being followed up. ACT members have increased their co-ordination efforts both at organisational and project level, including all 5 ACT members presently operational in Afghanistan. In this way the already existing collaboration, as between CAID, CWS P/A and NCA, is being extended to ensure that members are aware of each others plans, approaches, working areas and expertise. The ACT members will ensure specific co-ordination when working with the same local partners.


  • Hungarian Interchurch Aid (HIA)


HIA was founded by the Hungarian Protestant and Orthodox Churches in 1991 and is now one of the four largest NGOs in Hungary. Its field of activities include: domestic social activities around Hungary; emergency assistance in Hungary and abroad and Refugee Affairs.

HIA started its operation in Afghanistan with an assessment mission in October 2001 and continued with the implementation of ASAF11 between November 2001 and September 2002. In the first phase of the program, ACT/HIA co-ordinated its activities from the office of GOAL in Mazar-e-Sharif. ACT/HIA established its independent field office in March 2002. In the scope of the above appeals ACT/HIA implemented the following activities focusing on the northern region:

  • Distribution of food and non-food items

  • (Re)construction of schools

  • Reconstruction of a health centre

  • Purchase of basic furniture for the schools

  • Purchase of basic furniture for the regional health centre

  • Canal cleaning in the scope of a Food for Work program

  • Carpet weaving course for women in three locations

In July 2002, ACT/HIA became registered with the Interim Administration of Afghanistan, Ministry of Planning (Registration No. 159).

This proposal includes some of the program components that could not be carried out under ASAF 21 due to lack of funding as well as new projects.


According to the international assistance community Afghanistan is currently in the relief, recovery and reconstruction phase. However the challenges remain numerous, the biggest challenge being that Peace is very fragile.

Current situation

One of the main effects of conflict and displacement has been the destruction and deterioration of housing throughout the country. Many returnees returning to the northern areas have found their houses demolished or occupied by others. These people are now living in ruins and building sites, and children are dying from diarrhoea and other diseases. In the present situation it is difficult for everyone to reclaim property (especially as many documents have been lost or destroyed during the long years of civil war and foreign occupation), but it is especially difficult for child-headed or female-headed families to do so. It is equally difficult for families without male support to rebuild their demolished homes. As refugees or IDPs cannot freely settle in areas other than their areas of origin, such powerless families suffer extreme hardship. About 500,000 people in the region of Mazar-e-Sharif have no accommodation, no jobs, no food and no access to safe drinking water, and they have no choice but to head for the cities. If they are unable to settle before the onset of the winter, their suffering will be further aggravated by the cold.

In Mazar-e-Sharif alone, an estimated 100,000 new homes are needed to solve the accommodation problem but only a fraction of these have actually been completed. Vital survival requirements include accommodation, water, land and jobs. UNHCR and other NGOs make every effort to co-operate with the Afghan Ministry for Refugees and Repatriation and the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development to cover the most basic needs of the most vulnerable groups. If people are unable to secure a living in legitimate ways, UNHCR sources fear that they might resort to robbery and criminal activities further aggravating the situation of the already suffering population.

The following figures relate to IDPs and Returnees in the ACT/HIA operational areas:

Returns in 2003
Returns in 2003
IDPs in 2003
IDPs in 2003
Source: IOM

Health: In the hot summer months ARI, pneumonia, diarrhoea and related ailments (dehydration, etc.) and cholera outbreaks are typical in the north due to poor water quality, inadequate sanitation and canalisation, and a lack of adequate health facilities. Diarrhoea kills an estimated 85,000 children a year in Afghanistan and is considered one of the country's major health risks. In winter the cold weather affects the health of people living in inadequate accommodation, without heating and warm clothing.

Mental Health: Many people feel the psychological effects of their experiences (civil war, uprooting, disruption of community, loss of loved ones and of support persons, loss of income, of home, massive material losses, living in uncertainty, lack of security, witnessing traumatic events and violence, enduring long-term physical hardship and deprivations, in some cases imprisonment and/or torture or physical and/or mental abuse, etc.). WHO reports that 30% of the refugees in Pakistan, for example, suffer from psychological problems, and the psychological impact of living in uncertainty affects at least three million Afghan refugees. Experts warn that the people's psychosocial health should be considered as urgent as their physical health problems and they should be given psychological support.

Education: Afghanistan has one of the lowest literacy rates (female 21%, male 51%) in the world. Poor education, especially characteristic of women, means restricted job opportunities, puts people in a disadvantageous position and makes them especially powerless and vulnerable when facing legal or health problems, etc.

Particularly vulnerable social groups

  • IDPs/former refugees at the outset and following their return to their places of origin or to new settlements

  • Populations displaced by the ongoing ethnic tensions

  • Families who have lost one or more essential wage earners

  • Nomadic Kuchi

Locations for Proposed Response

During the initial period, when ACT/HIA commenced its activities in northern Afghanistan, it agreed with the UN organisations and the Irish GOAL lead agency that it would carry out humanitarian work in Khoja Du Kho District, Jawzjan Province, because this area had not yet been covered by any other NGO. The geographical area where ACT/HIA is now working was designated during the work in the region, through continuous discussions with the Afghan Ministry of Planning, MoE and MoPH, as well as on the basis of co-ordination talks with NGOs and UN organisations.

ACT/HIA will continue to work on the northern provinces in Afghanistan with a special focus on Balkh and Jawzjan provinces. Proposed project locations for the ASAF 31 activities are:

  • Jawzjan province: Khoja Du Kho district

  • Balkh province: Balkh district, Chimtal and Charbulak districts, Mazar-e-Sharif, Samarkandyan, Sherak, Qezil Abad and Eliqichi

Security situation

The security situation in the north continues to be unsettled, with ongoing fighting between the two factions (Jumbish and Jamiat) in various provinces, such as Sar-e-Pul, Faryab (Maimana), Balkh (Sholgara, Kishendeh), Samangan (Hairaton). As a result of this the UN did not carry out activities for about a month in some districts.

Unresolved inter-factional conflicts threaten to further de-stabilise the fragile security of the city. There is information about renewed infiltration of Taliban and al-Qaida fighters. Ongoing efforts are made to demilitarise parts of the Mazar city, however weak security management of the city continues to be a concern. In the scope of the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration process during November and December 2003 international military forces, who would support UN efforts in stabilising the situation in the region, are expected to arrive in Mazar.

The NGOs attend the weekly security co-ordination meetings at UNAMA's offices and if some unforeseen event occurs UNAMA notifies the NGOs. There are specific procedures in place in case the security situation deteriorates.

In the case that restrictions are placed on travel, the local supervisor will continue to supervise the work in the field.

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