Out of 163 nations, The IEP ranked Afghanistan as the world’s least peaceful nation. The prolonged conflict has devastated the socio-economic system of Afghanistan. Despite many efforts by the international community, the region is still suffering from the lack of positive peace structures in place. The Majority of the Afghan population is living in inhumane conditions. Lack of access to clean drinking water, electricity, gas, and other utility services makes daily life in Afghanistan incredibly harsh. The United Nations and several NGOs are working in Afghanistan to improve the deteriorated socio-economic conditions but a majority of the population is still not receiving the resources they need due to conflict. According to the Afghan Ministry of Economy, in 2018 a total of 1,656 NGOs are working in Afghanistan. A total of 2,537 projects were undertaken and spent 876 million USD to improve the living conditions of over 37 million people. The major spending was in the social protection sector but these projects rarely served populations outside of the capital city, Kabul. To build resilience in these communities, Peacebuilders and leaders must strategize projects to make resources available near these conflict zones.
Peacebuilding Through Education
Due to political conflict, the government in Afghanistan has not been able to undertake a full-scale education development program and relies heavily on the aid provided by NGOs. Children and youth of Afghanistan have been experiencing frequent interruptions in their schooling due to conflict, often never finishing their primary education. Lack of school facilities, funding, and domestic child labor provide more obstacles to the education problem for Afghan children and youth.
Aid Afghanistan for Education (AAE) was awarded as a UNESCO International Literacy Prize for its efforts in providing high-quality learning opportunities through its accelerated “Education for Marginalized Women and Girls” program. The Afghan war forced many boys and girls out of the formal education system. Due to age, marital status, or lack of documentation, thousands of women were denied access to continue the formal education they couldn’t pursue during intense periods of war. The accelerated program creates the
opportunity for students to receive their high school diplomas within seven to eight years and provides vocational training to eventually gain employment as managers, accountants, or administrators. Since 2003, over 3,000 women have benefited from the educational programs of AAE across six provinces. More than 80% of the graduates have received higher education or stable employment. By providing access to education for women and girls, peacebuilders are educating entire families for generations.
Positive Peace Impact
AAE’s programs provided educational programs to women who missed out on formal educational opportunities due to conflict. With a completed primary education, these women could pursue higher education or stable careers to improve the economic and social resilience of themselves and their families.
Peacebuilding through Investing in Maternal and Childcare
Another major problem of Afghan society is the high infant mortality rate. In 2017, Afghanistan has the world’s highest infant mortality rate at over 110 infant deaths for 1,000 live births and a maternal mortality rate at 638 women for every 100,000 live births. The main causes of the high infant and maternal mortality rate in the region are malnutrition, lack of healthcare resources for pregnant women, and lack of clean water and sanitation. This is a potential sector where the Rotarians can play significant roles to help the Afghan communities. Peacebuilders can focus to improve healthcare facilities, provide access to clean water and nutrients, provide education and training on early child development, or even provide supplies for mothers in need.
Several NGOs are working to improve child and maternal health in Afghanistan. Afghan Health & Development Services (AHDS) has constructed 97 different types of health facilities in 22 years in Kandahar and Uruzgan and has helped to diminish polio in Uruzgan. During 2017, Swedish Committee for Afghanistan medical staff saw more than 2,5 million patients, including assisting in 32,000 child deliveries, vaccinations of 50,000 children and provision of family planning for 45,000 adults. Action Contre le Faim has provided screening and treatment for acute malnutrition to over 15,000 children under 5 years, since 2016 through the introduction of mobile clinics in Ghor, in camps for the internally displaced persons in Helmand and across Kabul including in Kabul’s informal settlements.
Positive Peace Impact
By providing access to vaccinations, assistance in delivery, and treatment for malnutrition, women are less likely to die during delivery and more children are likely to live to their first birthday. Preventative care of disease and developmental problems for infants during the first year of life is essential for the development and survival of children today and for generations.
Want to wage peace in Afghanistan but don’t know where to start? Take this RAGFP Peacebuilder Survey for ways you and your Rotary Club can create positive peacebuilding strategies in Afghanistan.