Following the collapse of the previous government, many NGOs ceased or significantly reduced their operations due to the uncertainty regarding the security of their staff, the ability to pay contractors and salaries, and how the new government would regulate their activities. The exodus in late August of more than 100,000 Afghans and foreigners further decimated the staffing of aid organizations throughout the country.
Prior to August, Afghanistan was already facing problems related to the ongoing drought, COVID-19 pandemic, and reduced levels of international aid. The change in government and subsequent freezing of the country’s overseas assets added banking and economic crises to the mix. Now, mass famine and poverty are projected to affect most of Afghanistan’s population as winter approaches.
Desperation and uncertainty have led to high levels of domestic and international migration and attacks by ISIS-K have added to the instability. As the country moves quickly towards a humanitarian disaster, a solution at the political level that could alleviate suffering does not seem imminent, since the government does not seem interested in creating an inclusive government or allowing basic rights for women and the U.S. government has made it clear that releasing Afghanistan’s reserves is unlikely.
Although some aid has started to trickle in through various UN mechanisms, levels do not come close to the previous levels of commitment or to addressing the predicted levels of need. At this moment of immense and unprecedented desperation, Afghanistan is unfortunately facing both fewer resources and implementing organizations on the ground.
For these reasons, NAC’s continued presence, with its staff levels essentially intact, makes it a critical player in delivering support to Afghans in the coming months.
The NAC Response
NAC’s ease of implementation is based in its impartiality and focus on results. Before and during implementation, NAC staff engage with parties that control or are contesting the areas of operation. This coordination mitigates problems when they arise and ensures activity implementation proceeds with minimal delays. Before restarting our activities after August 2021, NAC staff met with leaders at the district, provincial, and national levels to obtain permission for the continuation of our work.
NAC is supporting the humanitarian response with new and existing funding from FAO, UNOCHA and UNICEF and continuing our longer-term development programs through the ERA program (which includes new, short-term humanitarian interventions) in areas such as education (e.g., construction and renovation of school buildings and facilities; teacher training; procurement of learning materials, equipment and furniture; and entrance exam prep for older students), support to farmers, food insecurity, sustainable livelihoods, health education and rural healthcare services.
We have been proactive and successful in obtaining new funding to continue and expand our activities and reach given the increased need and have multiple proposals under consideration by a variety of donors.
In the near term, NAC will support more than 40,000 farmers throughout the country with cash, tools, seeds, fertilizer and work opportunities. Our Continuum of Care Centers (CCCs) will continue to support thousands of women in Kapisa and Khost with reproductive, maternal, neonatal and child health (RMNCH) services, and four more CCCs will be established in the next four months. Through our UNICEF Global Partnership for Education program in Badakhshan, teachers, Shura members, and more than 75,000 students throughout the province will be provided with supplies, training, and operational support.
Although NAC has utilized its capacity to increase humanitarian efforts, issues remain regarding access to education for older girls, permission to work for all female staff in all locations, and banking issues, among many others.
NAC will continue to advocate for these and other issues, while expanding our operations to the extent possible without compromising on programmatic quality. Through these efforts, we hope to help vulnerable Afghans in rural Afghanistan survive the upcoming winter and thrive in the years to follow.