Afghanistan: Rebuilding Civil Society


Afghan societyhas been exhausted by 23 years of wars, repeated drought and chronic poverty. Decades of violence and suffering have exacerbated ethnic divisions, with disastrous humanitarian consequences.

The December 2001 Bonn Agreement and the 2002 Loya Jirga have established the bases of a new Afghanistan: democracy, tolerance and fairness. But the country complex ethnic geography, and the unstable civil society and economy constantly threaten the country's balance and prevent a democratic consolidation.

Despite suchoverwhelming challenges, nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) must play a key role in the incredibly complex reconstruction process that the country is going through.

In a report published in the run-up up to the January 2003 Conference on Reconstruction Assistance in Tokyo, the United Nations Development Programme stressed the importance of involving all civil society partners, as especially Afghan NGOs, at every levels of the reconstruction process.


With the knowledge that NGOs are essential agents of change toward establishing an reinforcing civil society, Alternatives has developped a project to support Afghan organisations wishing to build solid foundations for democracy.

This initiative will help consolidate Afghan civil society while promoting peace and democratic values in the region. This will lead Afghancivil society organisations to work together toward their common goals and concerns, primarily those relative to rehabilitation, reconstruction and reconciliation.

Launched in March 2003 and over a period of slightly more than six months, this project created a network that itself will develop projects and activities such as:

  • symposiums and conferences on building up institutional capacities in the civil sector
  • improvement of public awareness campains on civil society activities
  • the establishment of a documentation centre about Afghanistan-related and devellopment-specific issues
  • devellopment of communication tools (bulletins and publications, a web portal, a magazine on peace for the youth) to help solidify the network and reinforce Afghanorganisation's ability to communicate with the rest of Afghan society.

The project plans to direct work with at least 40 NGOs and civil society organisations, and 50 communication groups. Indirectly and through this network, it is 500,000 Afghan in the country and 150,000 more outside that willbe affected. Once the network and its communication tool are firmly established, it should be possible to reach an even larger public.

We also plan on making Canadian NGOs, the general public and the Canadian Afghan diaspora more aware of the situation in Afghanistan and the specific steps that could be taken to better show citizen solidarity.

The network members include: Co-operation for Peace And Unity (CPAU), Sanayee Development Foundation (SDF), Afghan Women's Resource Center (AWRC), Afghan Women Network (AWN), Afghan Women Education Center (AWEC), Afghanistan Study Center (ASC), Afghan NGOs' Coordination Bureau (ANCB), Agency Co-ordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR), ARIC, SWABAC, Afghan Media Resource Center (AMRC).