Afghanistan at risk of humanitarian disaster
Oxfam writes to world leaders and urges support for a major change of direction in order to reduce suffering and avert a humanitarian disaster.
It is two years since the international community and Afghan government launched the 'Afghanistan Compact', in which donors pledged over $10bn of aid to the country. They resolved 'to overcome the legacy of conflict' by promoting development, security, governance, the rule of law and human rights.
It must now be acknowledged that many of the Compact’s targets are not being met, and that too many of the commitments made remain unfulfilled. There has been undoubted social and economic progress in Afghanistan, but it has been slow and is being undermined by increasing insecurity.
Oxfam, which has had operations and supported partners in Afghanistan for nearly twenty years, wants world leaders to support a major change of direction in order to reduce suffering and avert a humanitarian disaster.
We believe there are five guiding principles which should underpin this change of course.
- First, development and security are inextricably connected. The causes of the insurgency and its aggravating factors are manifold, not least extremism, narcotics production and trafficking, criminality and corruption. But the current environment of persistent poverty provides the conditions in which the insurgency can flourish. It is inevitable that some Afghans turn to narcotics, criminality, or even militancy, if they cannot feed their families. Military action addresses symptoms, not the underlying causes or conditions. Bringing real improvements to Afghan lives, and better prospects, is not only the right thing to do, it is an essential, long-term means of reducing vulnerability to the spread of militancy.
- Second, assistance must be prioritised according to needs and impact. The majority of Afghans live in rural areas and depend for their livelihoods upon agriculture and rural trades. Yet only a fraction of international assistance has supported agriculture, rural development, or sub-national governance.
- Third, half-measures or short-term fixes have not worked in the past, nor will they succeed today. After two and half decades of war, disorder and the absence of government, to meet current challenges nothing short of a substantive, comprehensive and long-term commitment will be sufficient.
To achieve peace, dialogue with a range of actors is essential but it is no substitute for sustained peace-work at local level. For centuries, communal or tribal councils of elders have been the central authorities in Afghan communities, yet little has been done to help these institutions promote peace and development.
On counter-narcotics, aggressive eradication will only drive farmers into the hands of the insurgents, and, given the limits of government authority, proposals to licence opium are unworkable and would not reduce the size of the illicit crop. A long-term, comprehensive approach is required, which prioritises rural development and licit agriculture, thus reducing the poverty which forces farmers to grow poppy.
- Fourth, more must be done to promote Afghan ownership of development. Too much assistance is top-heavy, prescriptive and supply driven. Processes of development, and indeed peace and reconciliation, must be owned and led by Afghans. Only measures which support what Afghans want and need will be genuinely sustainable.
- Fifth, more of the same is not good enough. Too much aid is slow, wasteful, ineffective or uncoordinated. In light of the spreading insurgency and increasing Afghan dissatisfaction with the rate of progress, urgent action is required to achieve greater donor coherence and aid effectiveness.
Oxfam Briefing Paper: Afghanistan: Development and Humanitarian Priorities (Oxfam GB website)
For more information, please contact:
Matt Grainger, Head of Media, Oxfam International, tel: +44 (0)1865 339128; mob: +44 (0)7730 680 837;
RT @OxfamAustralia: This weekend, 274 teams tackled 100km in @OAusTrailwalker Brisbane to support Oxfam's work. Read our event wrap-up: htt…1 hour 6 min ago
Today is World Refugee Day, a day to honor the 42.5 million people forcibly displaced worldwide http://t.co/EOshw8HBfR @Refugees #refugees1 hour 41 min ago
RT @oxfamcanada: If you watch 1 video today, make it this one. Life and music. #Syrian #refugees in Zaatari camp: http://t.co/nHle2Z0rjE3 hours 16 min ago
RT @devex: What delays development in #SouthSudan? Exclusive #interview with former child soldier and @Oxfam advisor http://t.co/YmN2n9TVuj…3 hours 28 min ago
#Women in the south of Thailand prove that knowledge is power http://t.co/TEXzEBldYq via @OxfamInAsia6 hours 40 min ago
7 hours 16 min ago
What is the #ETS and how might it help fight #climate change? http://t.co/XT3vWIANmz infographic via @SamWWF @WWFEU8 hours 52 min ago
#ETS structural reform needs to be much more ambitious to help stave off dangerous #climate change http://t.co/ZhcfQtzMHv @OxfamEU9 hours 1 min ago
#Women are due to get a bigger say in #Kenya’s #climate change policies http://t.co/aUXN1OpfSF #genderjustice9 hours 14 min ago
RT @youngvictheatre: And... Check out this wonderful photo gallery of Joe Wright & Chiwetel's trip to #Congo with @Oxfam http://t.co/yfusA6…9 hours 18 min ago
10 hours 31 min ago
Empowering girls through technology: what's the role for business? http://t.co/ChGyFHWCCK cc @girlswhocode @GSMA #ict #m4d10 hours 54 min ago
En 2012 fueron asesinadas 606 mujeres en #Honduras. 98% de los casos permanece en la impunidad http://t.co/DN4Ixb1QsM @femicidiosHND #EVAW11 hours 15 min ago
1 woman is killed in Honduras every 15 hrs, but <2% of the cases are investigated http://t.co/7c88EhmIkG Act now #EVAW! #gbv11 hours 29 min ago
What the G8 forgot. @Jodie_Thorpe on what the #G8 should have done for farmers http://t.co/GiU0P5eaLs #tax #trade #transparency12 hours 55 min ago