Afghanistan has been in an active state of war since its revolution in 1978. Recently, the numbers of civilian deaths have begun to climb again.
Despite the worsening situation, the country is increasingly neglected, leaving the humanitarian response in Afghanistan severely underfunded.
Generations of Afghans have grown up in exile, in neighbouring Pakistan and Iran. Each year, hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees spontaneously return or are forced to return from Pakistan and Iran. Meanwhile, more than 1.2 million Afghans are internally displaced.
Obstacles to access and insecurity are the largest barriers to reaching the most vulnerable. In addition to conflict, disasters like earthquakes and floods force many to flee their homes.
Nearly two thirds of Afghanistan's population are under 25 years old. Many of them are seeking opportunities in cities and urban areas, which has led to competition over land and social and economic services.
- 1978-1989: Marxist revolution, Soviet invasion and occupation
- 1989-1992: First civil war
- 1992-1996: Second civil war
- 1996-2001: Taliban takeover and third civil war
- 2002-present: War with international invasion and occupation
People we helped in Afghanistan in 2017
Our programme in Afghanistan assists internally displaced Afghans and Pakistani refugees. Our priorities are twofold. In the aftermath of violence and disaster, we give immediate, emergency assistance. Where the effects of long-term displacement have taken hold, we work to find lasting solutions.
Our regional and cross-border programmes address and relieve the effects of conflict, as do our emergency teams. We place significant importance on helping displaced people in hard-to-access areas as well as supporting women in accessing their rights.
We use camp management approaches to enhance communication with communities, community mobilisation, and support to inclusive coordination in both urban, non-camp environments and within informal settlements. Our camp management teams:
- establish and run community centres and information sessions where displaced Afghans can access information about services and be referred for assistance
- establish and support neighbourhood committees who distribute information and solve problems in their communities
- support local coordination activities like setting up meetings between relevant stakeholders to address needs and gaps
We specialise in Education in Emergencies (EiE), working to preserve safe learning environments. Our teams:
- increase accessibility to schools in rural areas transitioning into city suburbs
- train teachers and informal instructors
- offer programmes for young people that combine vocational training with literacy and life skills classes
- help children who have missed out on school to catch up through accelerated classes
- work with the Ministry of Education to increase the capacity of the Afghan government to respond to the urgent educational needs of displaced children, as well as those returned from Pakistan
Information, counselling and legal assistance (ICLA)
We provide information and legal advice to displaced Afghans on a wide range of legal matters within two thematic areas: housing, land and property and legal identity, including civil documentation. Our ICLA experts:
- visit communities to conduct legal sessions and group trainings
- provide individual counselling and personalised information packages
- provide one-on-one counselling
- resolve legal disputes in housing, land and property rights cases
- help displaced people to access their civil documentation
Livelihoods and food security
Food insecurity and the lack of livelihood opportunities are major challenges across Afghanistan. In 2017, over 3.2 million people were estimated to be in need of food assistance and more than one in three people of working age were either unemployed or underemployed. Our teams:
- help people start small businesses through business skill mentoring programmes and start-up grants – focusing on women and youth
- partner with private businesses to deliver demand-driven, high quality vocational skills training courses
- support private companies to expand their businesses to generate employment
- help connect households to markets, for instance, by supporting them to produce raw materials and agricultural products that are in demand
- provide kitchen gardens for households
- establish communal gardens in schools and community centres
- provide cash so that vulnerable households and children can buy food
Shelter and settlements
Many Afghans live in inadequate housing, improperly protected from violence and natural hazards. Our shelter teams work side-by-side with our WASH experts as they carry out many of their projects. Our shelter teams:
- construct one and two room shelters for families
- build schools as well as additional classrooms for existing schools
- collaborate with the community to construct shelters through a cash-based programme, providing cash assistance in exchange for the paid construction of shelters
- advocate for shelters to be built to better standard for enduring natural hazards
- upgrade shelters to better withstand natural hazards and climate
- provide temporary cash assistance to cover basic rent for the most vulnerable
- provide sealing off kits to families with damaged or poor quality shelters
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) promotion
Water, sanitation and hygiene practices are lacking in many parts of Afghanistan, largely due to the lack of infrastructure. In many of our WASH activities, our WASH experts work closely with our shelter teams. Our WASH teams:
- construct households improved latrines and access to safe water through community water points
- provide safe drinking water points, access to improved sanitation, and hand washing facilities in schools
- distribute hygiene kits and train families on how to use them
- conduct hygiene education promotion in communities and schools
Women, in particular, face many barriers in Afghanistan. Our teams integrate gender considerations in our programming:
- NRC is the only organisation in Afghanistan to work for the widespread acceptance of women's housing, land and property rights
- our all-female shelter team supports female-headed households and widows
- Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NMFA)
- Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)
- Norwegian Agency for Development cooperation (Norad)
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – Common Humanitarian Fund (OCHA CHF)
- European Commission's Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO)
- Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO)
- Danida, Denmark's development cooperation
- Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- PATRIP Foundation
- Department for International Development UK(DfID)
- Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
- The United States Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (BPRM)
About NRC in (country)
Displaced by drought: Her daughter froze to death in the desert
AFGHANISTAN/Badghis: Sultana, 24, recently had to bury her youngest daughter, who froze to death in the Afghan desert.
Millions of Afghans face risks of drought related displacement
Amid a precarious security situation in Afghanistan, the worst drought in recent history, that hit two out of three provinces in Afghanistan in July, has destabilised the lives of tens of thousands of civilians, some of whom have already been displaced.