• Grassroots engagement holds the key to development in Afghanistan

Grassroots engagement holds the key to development in Afghanistan

27 September 2016

Qatra, qatra darya mesh – drop by drop a river is made

Ten prominent Afghan development and human rights activists will alert world leaders to the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan that has led to more than a million internally displaced people, the highest levels of civilian casualties since 2009 and unemployment rates of 40%. Without renewed engagement by the international community with civil society, at the grassroots level, they warn that progress for peace and development will be impossible.

The Afghan activists will be joined by ten international NGO leaders, including Jawed Nader, Director of BAAG, British & Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group, a network of 28 charities delivering vital development, rights and humanitarian programmes in Afghanistan. 

Jawed Nader said, “The growth of a vibrant civil society in Afghanistan has been one of the country’s great achievements. Yet our work is under threat because of the intensifying conflict. Funding is uncertain, attacks on staff are commonplace and life is risky. Some of our delegates deal with the daily stress that they might not make it home that night.International support to Afghanistan – both financial and technical – must continue, not only to the Afghan government, but to also build a strong grassroots civil society and support INGOs.”

Nooria Sultani, Programme Manager at Afghan NGO, EQUALITY for Peace and Democracy said, “Sustainable development in Afghanistan needs vibrant grassroots networks in rural communities as well as vocal NGOs in Kabul. Our voices must be heard. Every day. Not just today.”

The Brussels Conference on Afghanistan on 5th October is jointly hosted by the European Union and the Government of Afghanistan, and brings together leaders from 70 countries to discuss international commitments. Pledges are expected for funding for Afghanistan to 2020 and beyond. The activists will present recommendations on behalf of Afghan civil society, designed to tackle the major crises of insecurity, poverty, corruption and human rights abuses.

1.     The Brussels Conference must urgently drive a national dialogue towards a comprehensive and inclusive peace process that includes civil society, without which all development efforts remain futile.

2.     Partnership and mutual respect between the Government of Afghanistan, the international community and civil society are essential for continued progress on human rights and sustainable development in Afghanistan.

3.     The new Afghan National Peace and Development Framework can be successfully implemented only with policies and programmes that build on the knowledge of civil society, experience of NGOs and engagement with local community networks.

In their official Conference paper to the Afghan government and international donors, the activists call for commitment from all sides, including civil society, to improve governance and tackle corruption, to protect human rights and support the most vulnerable, including those displaced by the conflict.

MaiwandRahyab, Executive Director of the Afghanistan Institute for Civil Society said, “Afghanistan is a different place today, thanks to the determination and resilience of the Afghan people and the support of the international community. But without stable partnership between government and civil society, peace in Afghanistan will not be just or lasting.”

Samira Hamidi, Chair of Executive Board of Afghan Women’s Network said, “We know the real needs of the people. We work in remote rural communities. Reaching the grassroots is critical to the future of Afghanistan. We need the Afghan government and the international community to help us strengthen our work in remote provinces.”

 

BAAG's project to facilitate civil society's participation in the Brussels Conference is generously funded by the European Commission, USAID through Counterpart International and the Swiss Agency for Development & Cooperation.