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ACBAR, the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief & Development, is an Afghan independent body bringing together 142 national and international NGOs working in Afghanistan and abiding by the humanitarian principles of independence, neutrality, impartiality and humanity.
As a collective ‘voice’ of NGOs operating in Afghanistan, ACBAR is dedicated to aid effectiveness, capacity development, advocacy, coordination, and information exchange services to address humanitarian recovery and sustainable development needs of the country.
ACBAR was created in August 1988, in response to the demand from the many aid agencies and international donors for a coordinated approach to humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan and for Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan.
Today ACBAR provides a framework for NGOs, UN agencies, the Afghan Government, and the donor community to exchange information, share expertise and establish guidelines for a more coordinated, efficient and effective use of resources for aid to the Afghan people. ACBAR’s activities have focused heavily on; information sharing to its members and the aid community. This includes coordination of activities at a national and regional level, and advocacy on issues affecting the work of its members. The members of ACBAR are committed to working with each other, the government, donors, civil society organizations (CSOs) and communities to support Afghan – led humanitarian and development assistance.
ACBAR has a democratic structure with a General Assembly, the highest decision making organ of ACBAR. The General Assembly meets twice a year. All members of ACBAR are represented by their Country Directors or their formal delegates authorized to make decisions on their behalf. During the General Assembly, the Steering Committee is elected and all annual documents are approved. This is also the time when new members are formally able to join the coordinating body. 
ACBAR’s Steering Committee consists of 13 members, including the chairperson, who meet on a monthly basis. The Steering Committee is a key organ of the organization and works to monitor, inform, guide, direct and assist the work of ACBAR. The director of ACBAR is responsible for all decisions within ACBAR but is answerable to the Steering Committee.
ACBAR’s secretariat is based in Kabul and has a Coordination Department, Advocacy and Communication Department, Capacity Building Department, Admin and Logistics Department and a Finance Department. ACBAR also has offices in the provinces of Jalalabad ,Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif.
ACBAR’s Coordination Department is responsible for generating data and analysis on NGOs in Afghanistan; providing essential information to NGO members; and facilitating coordination mechanisms, including the coordination of communication operations.
ACBAR’s Advocacy Department acts as a platform for synchronized knowledge-sharing and advocacy between its members. Monthly advocacy meetings are held to facilitate information sharing, policy discussions, analysis on key trends and issues, publications and coordinated campaign strategy. ACBAR also aims to be an interface between the NGO community and the international community, including UN agencies and donor bodies. ACBAR facilitates regular follow-up and input on donor’s strategies including, the Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF) and Humanitarian Implementation Plan (HIP). ACBAR also follows USAID, SIGAR and EU funds, in addition to ‘on budget’ process. Furthermore, ACBAR’s membership in the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) and Common Humanitarian Fund’s (CHF) Advisory Board places ACBAR in a position to ensure humanitarian aid transparency and access of funds for NGOs.
ACBAR also participates in, and hosts, conferences and workshops in order to support relationships with the international community and provide a space for information sharing, capacity development, communication and advocacy with other coordination bodies and networks.
Further to this, ACBAR acts as an interface between CSOs/NGOs and the Afghan Government with particular regards to the operational environment for NGOs in the country. ACBAR updates its members on key issues, rules, regulations and legislation and acts as a mediator between its members and the Government. ACBAR can individually represent interests of any its members to the Government. ACBAR’s monthly Afghanistan Development Forum (AHF) provides a platform of communication between the Government and NGOs.
ACBAR’s Capacity Building Department supports specific demand for NGO training including, tax, human resources, and humanitarian principles. Recently ACBAR initiated a four year Twinning Program where Afghan NGOs (twinnees) will be trained by INGOs (twinners) to carry out assessments on protection, WASH, food security, health and nutrition; and to properly submit grants (quality and needs correspondence). The aim is to increase the capacity of Afghan NGOs to participate in the planning, co-ordination and delivery of collective humanitarian programs in Afghanistan.
ACBAR’s Scope of Services
  1. Information, Coordination facilitation and Communication
There are two clearly defined groups who need information from ACBAR: These are ACBAR members and external stakeholders such as donors, the media and government. Serving the needs of these two groups is the core ACBAR’s activities.
Generating data and analysis on NGOs in Afghanistan
Donors and other stakeholders require information on NGOs working in the country to use in their decision-making processes and to understand the background of Afghanistan’s development and humanitarian work. Information of this kind can also be used to demonstrate the impact and legitimacy of NGO initiatives in Afghanistan. An analysis of trends and facts also helps to support ACBAR’s advocacy activities. ACBAR therefore maintains a directory and member database to ensure quality and reliability information.
Providing essential information to members
This service is one of the most essential currently provided by ACBAR. Through its bulletins, job adverts, , calls for proposals, legal analysis and translations of letters from government bodies, ACBAR manages an information network that is unique in Afghanistan.
Using information technologies to enhance internal and external communications
Through ACBAR’s website, social media platforms and newsletters, ACBAR utilizes information technology in order to broaden the reach of news and activities, and to allow for a better understanding of ACBAR’s member involvement in development and humanitarian activities within Afghanistan. This includes a member section on ACBAR’s website to store information relevant to members.
Information technology supports all of ACBAR’s strategies by easing the flow of information to stakeholders, supporting member consultations, and by facilitating the sharing of resources among member organizations.
Facilitating coordination mechanisms
ACBAR facilitates the organisation of coordination forums according to the requirements or needs of its members. ACBAR aims to improve the coordination and ex-change of information between development NGOs and advocate for more involvement of civil society actors in the implementation and monitoring of the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (TMAF).
ACBAR’s monthly coordination forums include, the Afghanistan Humanitarian Forum (AHF) where NGOs and UNOCHA can to discuss humanitarian priorities and strategies. The AHF also feeds into the OCHA’s Humanitarian Team Meetings (HCT); NGOs in the AHF can raise issues or concerns they wish to be raised in HCT meetings. ACBAR’s Afghanistan’s Afghanistan Development Forum (ADF) serves as a platform for NGOs and Government bodies to discuss pressing development issues and challenges, NPPs, coordination with the Government and national polices. The Advocacy Working Group (AWG) enables joint advocacy initiatives, including campaigns and the publication of papers.
  1. Coordination of communication operations
ACBAR organises and contributes to communication operations aimed at promoting the role, values, and activities of civil society actors in Afghanistan.
ACBAR has produced a database of member organizations, Government bodies, donors, Embassies, UN and the media. ACBAR also collects relevant information pertaining to humanitarian action, and development activities and policies. For example, ACBAR receives information in the form of letters from different government bodies and translates them into English. The translations are then sent to member NGOs and other NGOs, donors and private sector if relevant.
ACBAR participates in monthly thematic group meetings, informs NGOs of such meetings, and shares agenda and minutes of the meetings. ACBAR ensures the interests its members are represented in different national and international forums such as donor conferences.
ACBAR also receives and disseminates calls for proposals from donors and the Afghan Government, and distributes job vacancies from donors, NGO, UN Agencies, the Afghan government, and the private sector. This information is shared with ACBAR’s members through the website, social media feeds and emails.
ACBAR also disseminates information through its regional offices to different stakeholders in the regions, including line ministries’ departments, UN Agencies, and NGOs. This is done through coordination meetings (Humanitarian Country Team (HCT), Afghanistan Humanitarian Forums (AHF), Afghanistan Development Forums (ADF), Inter-Cluster meetings, NGO and Donor meetings. Information is also shared through e-mails and hard copy letters.
ACBAR holds monthly meetings with the directors of its members to gain their feedback and discuss ongoing activates and operational environment issues. Ad-hoc meetings on urgent issues are held with different stakeholder when necessary and on the request of ACBAR management, the Steering Committee (SC), and members.
ACBAR organizes regular communication events to promote the work, role, and values of the NGOs in Afghanistan (radio intervention, TV round table, exhibitions and regular press statement or news articles); ACBAR also support members when organizing media events, based on its own experience.
  1. Policy / Advocacy / Lobbying
ACBAR plays a leading role in defending the interests of NGOs, especially with the government but also with the international community. ACBAR actively promotes the position of NGOs and responds to issues or problems faced by the NGO community. For this, maintaining relationships and open communication channels with key players and decision makers able to influence the work of NGOs in Afghanistan will continue to be an essential task of the ACBAR team.
Representing the position of NGOs on key issues of policy and practice
In terms of representation, ACBAR sets a clear list of priority issues to pursue and raise in forums where NGO interests are at stake. ACBAR’s overarching priorities include civil-military relations, ensuring NGO participation in the Afghan National Development Strategy (ANDS) process and addressing the funding constraints to the NGO sector. These themes may change over time, as the situation in Afghanistan evolves. Documenting NGO positions on these priority issues enhances the impact of ACBAR’s advocacy and representation work.
Facilitating the coordination of NGO input
ACBAR acts as a consistent representative body within the Afghanistan humanitarian and development community and works with donors, government and UN agencies and other coordination bodies to facilitate the presentation of a strong and consistent NGO voice, promote common action to influence policy and practice, and enable resource allocation in favour of vulnerable groups affected by humanitarian crisis and emergencies. Consulting members on key policy and practice issues, and documenting proceedings, outputs and results for future reference is one of ACBAR’s core activities.
ACBAR woks to monitor the humanitarian situation and disaster response in the country and to support coordination of emergency and rehabilitation interventions in affected areas. ACBAR also monitors the development needs of the country to support the sustainable development interventions.
Due to the diversity among its membership, ACBAR may not be able to take up ongoing advocacy activities on particular development sectors/issues such as gender or education. ACBAR will, however, facilitate the sharing of information among its members on such policy issues, and will facilitate coordination among members on such topics if there is a demand. 
  1. Enhancing the image of NGOs in Afghanistan
ACBAR provides members with communication tools to promote a positive image of NGOs and address some of the concerns raised by the media and other external stakeholders. ACBAR promotes high ethical and professional standards among the NGO community; including best practice principles, and standards in programme quality in emergency, recovery and development responses. Furthermore, ACBAR promotes transparency and partnership with key humanitarian stakeholders, especially between NGOs and the government and people of Afghanistan.
  1. Developing and Promoting the NGO Code of Conduct
In helping members to demonstrate their legitimacy and accountability, ACBAR has spearheaded the establishment of both a self-monitoring process and a voluntary Code of Conduct for its members. ACBAR also leads the development and improvement of the Code of Conduct to ensure that the structures of verification and oversight are functional.
  1. Building the Capacities of Member Organizations
ACBAR offers a range of training programs to member organizations, these include NGO ‘Do No Harm’ training and the training on the NGO Law 2005. ACBAR also focus on broader themes which support the Code of Conduct including: governance and accountability, communications, advocacy, and best practice principles. Such training programs are offered both in Kabul and in the regions. ACBAR also links its members to other capacity building opportunities through its member communications.
ACBAR raises awareness about the Code of Conduct through training and workshops (governance accountability, communication, advocacy, best practices, etc.). In addition to this, ACBAR takes part in monitoring of the compliance by its members to the Code of Conduct. This includes reporting regarding the compliance of members to the Code of Conduct.
ACBAR also provides training (directly or indirectly) to build the capacity of members to tackle weaknesses identified during the Code of Conduct monitoring. ACBAR promotes mobilization of the National NGO through specific forums organized in coordination with other coordination bodies such as ANCB, AWN and UNOCHA. Furthermore, ACBAR aims to increase participation of National NGO in key forums such as the HCT and the in ACBAR Advocacy Working Group;
  1. Informal Legal Services and Relationship with the Government
ACBAR informally provides members with legal advice and where possible supports NGO members on legal matters related to tax, social and labor laws and in all relevant legal issues. The Deputy Director is very proactive in representing the interests of NGO members with the various ministries and the Parliament.
ACBAR keeps up to date with any legislative changes that might impact on NGO activities and specific status. As part of this, ACBAR has close interaction with the relevant technical department of all ministries to negotiate and discuss the application of laws and regulations and other related legal issues. ACBAR also provides unofficial translations and explanations of enforced laws. Furthermore, ACBAR regularly organizes workshops and training regarding Afghan legislation that concerns NGO. All of ACBAR’s advocacy initiative aims at improving and protecting the status of NGO, targeting the Afghan Government and the Parliament.
Last Updated April 2015