Country: Afghanistan

Humanitarian action in Afghanistan: an uphill battle

What does Afghanistan tell us about the condition of the humanitarian enterprise? After 30 years of war (and counting), the situation for ordinary Afghans is bleak, the manipulation of aid to advance political aims has reached unprecedented levels and humanitarianism is in a parlous state. Many factors affect the plight of Afghan civilians and the… Read more »

Securing access through acceptance in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Humanitarian actors claim adherence to humanitarian principles in order to win the acceptance of local populations, parties to conflict and other stakeholders, and thereby secure access to vulnerable people at risk. In recent years, however, questions have arisen as to whether humanitarian principles are still relevant as a tool for securing access. Using Afghanistan and… Read more »

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan: evidence-based advocacy and enhanced protection

Afghanistan is now in its fourth decade of warfare, making it one of the most protracted conflicts in recent history. The nature of warfare, and related war agendas, have evolved over time and continue to do so in line with changing internal and external political objectives and ground realities. However, the absence of adequate measures… Read more »

Southern Afghanistan: acceptance still works

In 2002 Mercy Corps had an active presence in most districts of Helmand, Kandahar and Uruzgan, implementing large-scale agricultural livelihoods programmes. In the years following, programmes grew in scope and scale as major funding became available for the first time in decades. At the same time, however, the security situation was deteriorating. Armed opposition to… Read more »

Cash For Work: lessons from northern Afghanistan

  Cash has rapidly become an effective part of the humanitarian toolbox. Debates about its use now focus less on the pros and cons, and more on the complexities and challenges of implementation. In part, this stems from a recognition that fears about corrupt or unintended use have not been borne out in practice, and… Read more »

Kabul, Afghanistan: a case study in responding to urban displacement

One in every six people on the planet currently experiences the kind of living conditions depicted in the recent film Slumdog Millionaire, set in the sprawling slums of Mumbai. Forecasts by UN Habitat and others suggest that slum communities like those shown in the film will double in size to two billion people by 2025,… Read more »

Britain and Afghanistan: policy and expectations

Even a cursory reading of events in Afghanistan over the last 12 months would reveal an undeniable sense of confusion, even panic, in UK policy as each one of its primary objectives – legitimate government, stabilisation, counter-narcotics and development – is systematically challenged by events on the ground. Senior military officers are on record as… Read more »

NGO relations with the government and communities in Afghanistan

This article explores the relationship between NGOs and the Afghan government, and communities’ perceptions of both. The research on which it is based was principally undertaken in three provinces, Herat, Balkh and Kabul. The article also draws on the author’s experience in other parts of the country, specifically the south-east. The core of the study… Read more »