• Ongoing commitment needed for Afghanistan

Ongoing commitment needed for Afghanistan

21 November 2014

In a letter to BAAG this week from British Prime Minister David Cameron, the role of civil society in shaping and supporting Afghanistan’s future was emphasized. 

The British government states it remains committed to Afghanistan in the coming years.  They are co-hosting the London Conference on Afghanistan in less than 3 weeks.   Cameron and, according to reports, President Ghani both see this conference as a ‘key mechanism to secure the international community’s long-term commitment to Afghanistan.’  What does that mean for Afghans and for the civil society working within and for the country?

BAAG are organising the civil society associated event within the London Conference on Afghanistan.  We are bringing to London almost 50 Afghan civil society actors for discussions and presentations on their recommendations to address the country’s priority issues.    What is clear from their position papers, and from those of the international NGOs also working in Afghanistan, is that to continue the development and aid programmes on which so many Afghans depend, funding is critical.  Many essential health services are delivered by NGOs.  Much of the human rights and women’s rights campaigning and awareness raising is led by civil society organisations.  National and international NGOs were critical partners to the Afghan government during the landslide and flooding emergency relief efforts earlier this year.  

But current pledges from international donors, the British government included, are only until 2017 at the latest.  Some critics may say that 16 years of tax-payers funds to Afghanistan since 2001 should be enough to get the country on its feet.  Those critics can be forgiven for not understanding the complexity of the Afghanistan context.  Whilst we have seen progress in education, health and women’s rights, amongst others, these have required large-scale campaigning, awareness raising and educational components.  Many of the problems faced by Afghans are down to embedded cultural practices.  These take time to understand, consider and address. 

BAAG and the guests and delegates to its Ayenda Conference hope that talks in the main conference on the 4th will impress upon donors the need for longer-term funding.  Many of them are talking about the dawn of Afghanistan’s Transformation Decade – let’s hope that development funding is considered for at least these coming 10 years.