Photo: Sandra Calligaro/NRC

NRC in Afghanistan


A total of


people in need received our assistance in 2021.


Humanitarian overview

Forty years of war and recurrent natural disasters, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, and an economic and financial crisis prompted by the Taliban’s rapid rise to power have devastated the Afghan people. While active fighting has dramatically reduced in recent months, civilian casualties and violence in 2021 was at record levels. We continue to see attacks across the country that put civilians at risk.

Nearly 700,000 Afghans have been newly displaced across the country in 2021, adding to more than 3.5 million already displaced. Displacement patterns are shifting across the country, including ongoing and secondary displacement, reports of returns, and IDPs who seek to be less visible in overcrowded housing or with family members and in need of humanitarian assistance.

More than half of the population is acutely food insecure, impacting both rural and urban households. Poverty could reach near universal in 2022 as millions of Afghans have lost livelihoods, taking on debt just to pay for rapidly rising costs for food and essential items, healthcare, education, and safe shelter.

  • 56,557
    people benefited from our education programme
  • 1,958
    people benefited from our food security programme
  • 150,200
    people benefited from our shelter programme
  • 239,690
    people benefited from our camp management programme
  • 337,541
    people benefited from our ICLA programme
  • 190,249
    people benefited from our WASH programme


NRC's operation

NRC Afghanistan seeks to protect and assist vulnerable women, girls, boys and men displaced by conflict and/or in hard-to-reach areas. NRC provides assistance to meet immediate humanitarian needs, prevent further displacement, and contribute to durable solutions.

NRC maintains a presence in 14 provinces across the country with mobile teams accessing neighbouring areas. We implement programming across all of NRC’s core competencies, integrating protection and advocacy, and an emergency response team to support preparedness and response.

NRC Camp managementCamp management

NRC’s camp management team in Afghanistan is the only such actor in the country. Functional since 2018, the team works in emergency settings, informal settlements, and urban areas to enhance communication with communities, improve community participation, support inclusive site-level coordination, identify and provide support to individual emergency cases, and promote social cohesion. Our camp management teams:

  • establish and run physical spaces (e.g. community centres, community tents, etc.) for humanitarian actors and the targeted community to serve as a one-shop stop where displaced Afghans can access services from more than one actor
  • establish and run outreach teams to facilitate two-way communication with the community in topics related to service provision
  • establish and support neighbourhood/settlement/camp committees to disseminate information and prioritise problems in their communities and work as a link between the service providers and the community members
  • support and lead area-level coordination mechanisms, including through the facilitation of meetings between relevant actors to address needs and gaps by establishing proper area-level referral mechanisms
  • monitor and address specific issues through protection monitoring and site risk assessments to highlight the threats and hazards in sites and neighbourhoods, reporting these to relevant agencies and advocating on behalf of the displaced population
  • implement an integrated response approach through direct intervention, referral system and advocacy
  • run different types of cash activities targeting the most vulnerable population in the areas of implementation


NRC EducationEducation

NRC Afghanistan specialises in education in emergencies for displacement-affected children, adolescents and youth. We work to improve access to quality, inclusive, and protective education relevant to our beneficiaries' cognitive, emotional, and psychosocial development. Our teams:

  • provide non-formal education (accelerated education, community-based education) for out-of-school children and support their transition into formal basic education
  • provide first phase education for children, adolescents and youth directly affected by conflict or displacement
    provide youth education and training focusing on Youth Social Engagement Pathway
  • develop the capacity of teachers and informal instructors
  • support youth with life skills, basic skills and recreational activities; peer-to-peer or youth-led activities
  • provide quality education with integration of social and emotional learning
  • provide education supplies including hygiene kits to instructors and learners
  • work with the Ministry of Education to increase the capacity of public schools to respond to the urgent educational needs of displaced children, as well as those who missed education due to conflict and school disruption during Covid-19 by repairing new schools and providing WASH and rehabilitation through a school improvement plan


NRC Information, counselling and legal assistance (ICLA)Information, counselling and legal assistance (ICLA)

ICLA provides information, legal counselling and assistance to displacement-affected Afghans on a wide range of legal matters within four thematic areas: housing, land and property (HLP); legal identity documentation (LID); employment law and procedure (ELP); and access to essential services. Our ICLA staff:

  • visit communities to conduct information sessions
  • outline tailored instructions on how displaced people can claim their rights through one-on-one legal counselling
  • provide direct legal assistance to enable people to claim and exercise their rights, including accessing legal identity documentation; resolving housing, land and property disputes; or claiming employment rights
  • provide referrals to help people access essential services and support in complex protection cases
  • support the informal justice system with a capacity-building programme through capacity-building training and mentorship programmes
  • conduct research and assessments to better understand displaced people’s challenges in claiming and exercising their rights
  • advocate for displacement-affected people’s housing, land and property rights as the co-lead of the HLP Taskforce within the Protection Clusters


NRC Livelihoods and food securityLivelihoods and food security

Our livelihoods and food security teams work to support displacement-affected people in Afghanistan amidst a dire situation – nearly 23 million people in Afghanistan (60 per cent of the total population) are experiencing severe acute food insecurity, millions of Afghans have lost livelihoods due to conflict and an economy in freefall, and basic food and essential items remain significantly more expensive than just a few months ago.

In addition, uncertainty around the political and conflict situation has prompted many business owners to put their businesses on hold and decrease their investment, leaving the majority of workers facing joblessness.  Our LFS teams:

  • provide emergency food assistance to families affected/displaced by drought or conflict in kind or cash modalities although at the moment cash transfers are not possible due to the collapsing financial system
  • help people start small businesses through business skills mentoring programmes and start-up cash grants – focusing on women and youth
  • partner with private businesses to deliver demand-driven, high quality vocational skills training- and apprenticeships, along with post-training support to help graduates set up their own business or get hired by companies
  • support private companies to grow/expand their businesses, thereby generating sustainable salaried employment for the most vulnerable IDPs, host communities and returnees
  • establish vegetable gardens and orchards in schools supported by NRC’s education programmes, to improve the nutritional awareness of students and their parents
  • provide agriculture inputs to farming households to produce their own food and enhance their self-reliance
  • provide livelihood kits and materials to allow families to engage in various income generating activities


NRC Shelter and settlementsShelter and settlements

More than 6.8 million individuals in Afghanistan live in inadequate housing standards. This may mean they are overcrowded living in conditions where they are unable to stand within the shelter due to low walls, have rooms where there is no glass in the windows, have limited privacy and may be improperly protected from climatic elements. Among a wide population of socio-economically vulnerable individuals, women, persons with disabilities and the elderly are the most affected, as they often spend more time inside the house. Our shelter teams, whilst working side-by-side with other sectors seeks to:

  • provide emergency shelter interventions, through the distribution of sealing off kits to families with damaged or poor-quality shelters
  • provide in-kind NFIs (blankets and clothing) to support vulnerable households during extreme winter conditions
  • in collaboration with the community and local markets, support the construction of one- and two-room shelters for families with an occupier-driven approach
  • upgrade shelter to offer dignity, and better withstand natural hazards and climate and advocate for shelters to be built to better endure natural hazards
  • provide cash-for-rent to cover their basic need for accommodation and offer a pathway to transitional solution
  • build schools as well as additional classrooms for existing schools and provide temporary classrooms
  • provide humanitarian energy solutions for households and the larger community
  • construct trading centres, including markets, as well as transit centres for returnees
  • construct community infrastructure


NRC Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) promotion

The number of people in need of WASH assistance in Afghanistan has nearly doubled in the last year as the Covid-19 pandemic, drought, and conflict limit access to water and sanitation and hygiene materials. Water scarcity, poor management and lack of investment in water supplies and sanitation are worsened by a financial crisis that has left people unable to purchase basic hygiene materials. Our WASH team will continue to deliver assistance to Afghan papulation through following activities:

  • provision of clean water through water trucking, quick fixing, rehabilitation and construction of water supply system in urban and rural areas
  • formation and capacity building water management committees and equipping them with basic operation and maintenance tools
  • provision of gender segregated latrine facilities by constructing new latrines or rehabilitation of existing latrines
  • provision of latrine cleaning kits as well as solid waste cleaning tools
  • distribution of hygiene kits along with menstrual hygiene materials
  • training of communities on basic hygiene practices such personal hygiene, water hygiene, food hygiene and environmental protection
  • designing, developing and printing hygiene information, education and communication (IEC) material
  • provision of integrate water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in schools
  • finding opportunities and scaling up market-based WASH programming in Afghanistan
  • Covid-19 prevention such as providing basic Covid-19 hygiene kits and provision of household/public handwashing facilities along with hygiene promotion 



NRC Afghanistan strives to continue implementing protection activities aiming to limit the impact of situation of violence on the civilian population. NRC’s Protection team integrates with other sectors to ensure that we are able to meet the needs of the most vulnerable. Our protection teams:

  • work with affected communities to limit the impact of protection issues due to displacement and situations of violence on civilian populations, especially the most vulnerable, by engaging in protection risk
  • identification and mitigation activities with thematic committees
  • provide information to civilian populations on risks and services to help them make informed decisions and plan
  • support vulnerable and at-risk individuals to access life-saving humanitarian assistance and other services they need through financial and in-kind assistance and accompaniment
  • support protection analysis through research and protection monitoring to inform the overall response
  • work very closely with other sectors of intervention to ensure that protection is integrated, and that vulnerable individuals and households receive comprehensive support
  • co-coordinate the Afghanistan Protection Cluster and co-leadership of the Risk Communication and Community Engagement Working Group

Gender mainstreaming

Women have always faced particular barriers in Afghanistan and this situation has only worsened given recent events. For that reason, our teams integrate gender considerations in programming and strive to engage women in a meaningful way and provide them with safe access to adequate assistance and services. We believe that humanitarian action cannot take place without women. NRC works to improve the acceptance of women's HLP rights. Our camp management team ensures that information dissemination responds to women’s needs and engages them in community committees. The protection team does not provide specialised GBV services but makes sure to include a gender lens to its protection analysis to understand the specific risks women are facing and ensure that their voices on protection risk reduction activities at community level influence the actions.

Emergency response

NRC Afghanistan supports IDPs, extremely vulnerable host communities and returnees to enhance access to humanitarian assistance for people devastated by natural disasters and conflict.

NRC Afghanistan is scaling up its emergency operation, to provide emergency humanitarian assistance across our operational areas through a broad set of measures including winterisation, emergency shelter response, non-food items, vulnerability assessments, capacity building of emergency response team and multi-purpose cash to support IDPs during displacement, when settling and integrating in a new place or upon return.

In addition, through the integrated programming or one programme approach, NRC will deploy emergency response as an entry point to communities while using the combination of core competencies in addressing vulnerability, to achieve systemic and long-term changes at scale to meet the immediate and long term needs. 


About NRC in Afghanistan

International staff
Areas of operation
Kabul (Country Office), Badghis, Balkh, Faryab, Herat, Kabul, Kandahar, Khost, Kunar, Kunduz, Nangarhar, Nimroz, Sar-e-pul, Uruzgan, and Zabul
Budget 2020
USD 27.4 million
National staff


Country Director

Neil Turner


+93 (0) 703 008 309