Afghanistan: Hard to Reach Assessment, Research Terms of Reference: December 2017, Version 3
2. Background & Rationale
After unprecedented levels of displacement were observed in Afghanistan in 2016, the situation remained unstable in 2017.
Since January, approximately 286,000 undocumented Afghans have returned from Pakistan and Iran (IOM, 2017) and an estimated 202,109 people have been displaced internally by conflict (OCHA, 2017).
Sustained levels of internal displacement have been observed across the 34 provinces, with approximately 20% of all displaced persons residing in hard to reach (HTR), and gradually expanding areas of nongovernment controlled territory.
These hard to reach areas of Afghanistan have been prioritized by the HRP 2017 which stated that “with the official IDP petition system largely or completely out of reach for those living in non-government held areas, in addition to the limited coverage of disease and food insecurity early warning systems, the capacity of humanitarian partners to detect or respond to the most acute needs may have been considerably weakened over the past six months, resulting in less IDPs being reported despite intensified conflict”.
Due to limitations associated with HTR areas, conventional face-to-face data collection techniques are not always possible in these locations, generating a lack of reliable data, and therefore reducing the adequacy of on-the-ground response. As a result, there is a lack of regular monitoring of the needs of these hard to reach communities which has undermined the ability to continually track the needs and vulnerabilities to ultimately inform the response, both operationally and strategically.
Continuous assessment of the severity of the situation across these hard to reach communities is essential to:
a) enable needs based prioritisation of humanitarian assistance,
b) act as a basis for advocacy efforts to assist the delivery humanitarian assistance,
c) monitor the impact of humanitarian programming.
OCHA and the Humanitarian Access Group (HAG) categorise an area as hard to reach when it is not regularly accessible to humanitarian actors for the purposes of assessments and response activities, based on the following criteria:
• Security concerns (e.g. active conflict, illegal checkpoints, roadblocks, etc.)
• Lack of authorisation from local authorities
• Logistical barriers (e.g. lack of infrastructure, geographical constraints)
Access to HTR areas of Afghanistan is however crucial. Indeed, according to the ATR/NRC study of HTR districts in four provinces of Afghanistan published in January 2017, these areas are particularly susceptible to food insecurity, WASH, shelter and other pressing humanitarian needs, contributing to further internal displacement. For the purpose of this assessment, the Hard to Reach districts identified by the humanitarian community are near-to or completely inaccessible for security reasons.
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) considers some 45 districts as fully or partially under the control of Armed Opposition Groups (AOGs), with a further 118 contested and regularly falling in and out of government control.
These 45 districts have been adopted by OCHA as the 45 hard to reach districts that are targeted under the Second Allocation of the Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF) to support the provision of life-saving assistance to people in Hard to Reach (and underserved) areas of the country.
This project therefore directly responds to the fifth priority area in the Second Allocation CHF Strategy, “Enabling Action”, and more specifically to the Coordination and Common Objective 1 “Enabling Action (Assessment) – Strengthen humanitarian actor’s response through the coordinated multi-sector assessments to inform humanitarian programming, strategic decision-making and improve understanding of critical humanitarian needs”.
The Afghanistan Hard to Reach Assessment (AHTRA) is multi-sectoral in nature and is designed to provide information that can support implementing partners, Cluster leads and senior decision makers. At the institutional level, the AHTRA will be established and designed in partnership with the OCHA HAG and ICCT, while all technical review will be channeled and reviewed through the OCHA HCAWG, which is co-led by REACH.
At the institutional level, REACH will create partnerships to ensure:
a) assistance in building networks of KIs;
b) feedback on the methodology and tool;
c) endorsement of the methodology and tool At the operational level, REACH will work with partners to ensure:
a) comprehensive, collaborative data collection b) triangulation of data gathered c) expansion to more areas through partner knowledge and networks d) greater dissemination and access through AHTRA members.
e) analysis support to consolidate findings collected by partners and REACH