Local Afghan Institute to Foster Civil Society at the Community Level

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Afghan communities will soon become better equipped to engage citizens and ensure all voices are heard, thanks to the Afghanistan Institute for Civil Society (AICS). Launched in February at a ceremony attended by Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Officer, AICS is the first locally-driven, independent organization supporting civil society at the community level in Afghanistan. Nearly 200 Afghans from various sectors attended the event in Kabul.

AICS was established by Aga Khan Development Network, in partnership with Counterpart International, to support civil society organizations (CSOs) and build a vibrant civic sector around the country. AICS will help Afghan CSOs improve their performance and ensure they meet both local and international standards of excellence, with certificates awarded to organizations meeting these standards.

AICS supports CSOs at community-based centers and through online learning tools. Its certification process draws upon tools developed by Counterpart’s former I-PACS II program and refined by Counterpart’s ACEP program and the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF).

Through this innovative certification process, AICS will help CSOs improve their ability to coordinate and engage with key stakeholders, including public and private agencies, donors, and peer CSOs. By equipping CSOs to develop effective, inclusive collaborations, AICS will help organizations become better prepared to provide services and participate in important policy discussions. Certification will also help CSOs attract the attention of new partners and strengthen the reputation of their organization and the sector overall.

Dr. Abdullah voiced his support for AICS and spoke about the need to improve communication between civil society and other sectors for the mutual benefit of CSOs, the government, and Afghan citizens. “AICS will contribute to growing a cadre of credible civil society organizations who partner with government in addressing Afghanistan’s development challenges,” said Dr. Abdullah.

Since 2005, Counterpart has worked with civil society organizations and emerging leaders across Afghanistan to influence policy, ensure government transparency, and advocate for political reform. To date, Counterpart has helped nearly 650 Afghan CSOs become more viable, visible, and vocal.

“Counterpart enables Afghan citizens to monitor government accountability and participate in necessary reform,” said Ramin Nouroozi, Counterpart Afghanistan’s Deputy Chief of Party for Programs. “To do this, CSOs need to effectively dialogue with the government. That’s why we need AICS: because AICS will lend support and provide training to those organizations, new and old, that are persevering every day to build better lives and more durable futures for all Afghans.”

Counterpart’s Afghanistan Civic Engagement Program (ACEP) is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). To learn more about AICS, check out its Facebook and Twitter (@AICSaf).