Change of strategy in Afghanistan

Bonn, 21st May 2007. Deutsche Welthungerhilfe (German Agro Action) has decided to adopt a change of strategy in its project work in Afghanistan. The relief agency's board of directors reached this conclusion during talks at the weekend. The full details of changes aimed at ensuring the independence and neutrality of the agency's development aid policies will be worked out in a concept by October 2007.

"Afghanistan's central government is simply not present in rural regions,"explained Welthungerhilfe's Secretary General, Hans-Joachim Preu=DF. "This is due to powerful regional rulers, a lack of technical and administrative capacities in Afghan institutions, as well as widespread corruption."The result is that NGOs are increasingly entrusted with responsibilities which fall under the auspices of the state. The Afghan government then takes credit for the ensuing achievements, but, as Preu=DF points out, "NGOs thereby come under fire by anti-governmental groups."

A further aspect of the new strategy will be to take account of regional power structures in cooperating with local institutions. "This approach has proved successful in other crisis regions such as the Congo or Sudan,"explains Preu=DF. In addition, careful attention will be paid to aligning aid measures to the priorities of the general public rather than letting these priorities be defined by central government. Finally, the line drawn between Welthungerhilfe and the international military presence has to be clearer, particularly when the military are also involved in reconstruction.

In summary: Welthungerhilfe plans to finish all its current aid measures. By October 2007 all the agency's activities will be reduced to essential measures.There will be no new or follow-on projects.

Deutsche Welthungerhilfe has been working in Afghanistan continuously since 1980. Initially, the organisation provided for Afghan refugees on the border to Pakistan, but in 1992 a skeleton agreement was reached with the Afghan government. Since 1980, Welthungerhilfe has spent 75 million euros on the implementation of approximately 100 projects. The main focal points of project work are in the north and east with an emphasis on rural infrastructural development such as drinking water supplies, irrigation projects, food security as well as the environment and erosion control. In addition, Welthungerhilfe carries out projects in village development as well as the generation of alternative sources of income for opium farmers.

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Deutsche Welthungerhilfe
Press Office
Friedrich-Ebert-Stra=DFe 1
53173 Bonn


Marion Aberle
Press Spokesperson
Tel. 0228 / 22 88 -114
0172 / 25 25 962

Assistant: Doris Theisen
Tel. 0228 / 22 88 -128
Fax 0228 / 22 88 -333