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ACBAR Newsletter November -2015

posted: 2015-12-20
ACBAR Holds General Assembly     
ACBAR has a democratic structure with a General Assembly, the highest decision making organ of ACBAR which meets twice a year.

ACBAR’s mid-term General Assembly was held on 22nd November 2015 in the conference room of Afghanistan Centre at Kabul University (ACKU).    The meeting was a quorum of 132 members (quorum = half the number of members +1) and permitted participants to review and discuss ACBAR’s activities over the past six months as well as listening to a presentation on the findings and recommendations of a strategic review commissioned to study future priorities for ACBAR in 2017-2019.  In addition 10 new NGO members were voted to become members of ACBAR by the General Assembly.

ACBAR’s   Chairman   commenced the General Assembly with a synopsis of the last 9 months of 2015 (January- November). During 2015 a new government has slowly been put into place reflecting the tension between the roles of the two political leaders – the President, Ashraf Ghani and the CEO, Dr Abdullah. There have been delays and changes in appointments of Ministers and senior Ministry staff which have slowed down work on different national and provincial levels.  To add to this complicated working environment, security had deteriorated during the year and access has become increasingly dive faculty in many parts of the country. International funding for Afghanistan is reducing with the departure of the bulk of NATO forces and at the SOM conference in September the government advocated successfully for 50% of donor funds to be channeled through the national budget  rather than ‘off budget’.

Over this period ACBAR has continued to provide a platform for NGOs to network with government, UN and civil society through the organization of regular monthly meetings withdifferent stakeholders and the dissemination of information.

It  has  increased  its  capacity  building  activities  with  the addition of a new programme for twinning national  NGOs  with  international NGOs  in the humanitarian  sector. A new regional manager for Herat was also appointed in September to increase support to ACBAR members in the Western region. ACBAR’s relations with   Government line ministries focused on the needs   and requirements of the members.  Therefore, ACBAR held meetings with the Ministry of Economy,

the Ministry of finance (MTO), the Ministry of Interior, the ministry of foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, The Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development. ACBAR pushed for MoUs between line ministries and NGOs to be signed in a timely manner for NGO projects and had numerous   discussions   with   the MTO regarding tax issues for NGOs. With regards to relations with the United   Nations,   ACBAR has represented the NGO community in various   meetings.   For example, ACBAR is an observer in HCT and CHF   Advisory    Board    meetings. OCHA regularly   attends ACBAR’s Afghan Humanitarian Forum to provide updates to members.

In terms of advocacy, ACBAR holds monthly Advocacy Working Group Meetings (AWG) at which members can came together to discuss joint advocacy initiatives including advocacy papers, campaigns and conferences.   ACBAR’s advocacy has focused on the Tokyo Process and   TMAF including advocacy around the Senior Officials Meeting in September.   ACBAR  has also being involved in the  lead up tothe World Humanitarian Summit by holding workshops , conducting surveys with communities in the provinces and producing a position paper for the WHS.

During the General Assembly ACBAR’s 9 month financial report was presented by ACBAR’s treasurer. Overall, 9 months of 2015 went without any financial problems .During this period 92% of ACBAR budget have been covered by Donors (Tawanamndi-30%, DFID -48% and Peace Winds Japan-14%)  The remaining 8% is covered by ACBAR membership fee and advertisement fees.  

ACBAR is funded by Peace Winds Japan “PWJ” to build the capacity and provide support to Afghan civil society organizations. Tawanmandi funds ACBAR to strengthen the role of CSOs, to serve and facilitate the work of ACBAR members, to advocate for them and to promote high standard among the NGO community. DFID funds ACBAR to capacity build national NGOs to see humanitarian action strengthened and to enable more local NGOs to obtain polled funding sources.

ACBAR’s director also presented the finding of ACBARs strategic review.  This review will be used to develop the new SP (2016 – 2019). The common future goal is to have a stronger, more visible, more proactive and more innovative ACBAR.
Lastly the General Assembly elected new Steering Committee members and approved 7 new members.  The new Steering Committee members are directors from NAC, FGA, RI, and MDC.

The ACBAR membership now includes AADRO, AHEAD, AOADFRDO, HAPA, HAWO, OSID, ORD, and SADA.

This brings ACBAR’s total membership to 140 organisations, 70 of which are international and 70 of which are national

After the recent conflict in Kunduz ACBAR’s Director visited Kunduz to observe first-hand the work of the rapid assessment survey which was led by IOM. ACBAR would like to extend our grateful thanks to colleagues at DRC for providing us the opportunity to accompany their team.

The Rapid Assessment survey took place from 1st -4th November
2015 in 26 key points in Kunduz city identified beforehand.    13 teams of 4 members (including 1 woman member) were deployed to carry out the survey.   Team members consisted of NGO staff (volunteered by their organizations) and members of UN staff from other provinces and local government. Before the survey started IOM had had discussions with the Governor and local authorities to explain the objectives of the survey and to ensure government support and co- ordination.   Some NGOs has already started to identify recipients of assistance but they were asked to wait until the joint assessment was completed.

The training and daily debriefing of the teams was held at Save the Children’s office in Kunduz. Team members visited local elders and street representatives (wa-kil-e-goza) in the focal areas (mosques) to prepare the interviews which were held with separate men and women’s groups.

IOM’s analysis from data collected in  the  survey  will   be  available shortly,  but  main  points  observed from meetings with women’s groups include the following: General     psychological     anxiety amongst  women  and  children as a result of the panic evacuation of Kunduz  and  escaping  fighting  in the streets and check points out- side  the city.   Even though they have come back to Kunduz, women remain fearful about going out, letting their children go to school, and during the night say the children are especially frightened and crying.  Lack of confidence in the police, arbaki and local authorities to protect them contributes to their anxiety.

People had spent a lot of moneyor borrowed money to pay very high transport rates out of the city to other provinces.  Now they are back they  are worried about  how to pay rent and fuel for the winter, especially  poorer families in rented houses,  “no money left in the house”.

Lack of employment is also a major concern for all women – if the men in their families do not have jobs this will contribute to their financial difficulties. Some families said they had already sent their sons away to other countries so this had also increased their debts.
Health issues were also found to be a major concern. There had been no medical facilities or pharmacies open in Kunduz during the fighting so sick people had to be taken to neighboring provinces.

There were cases of pregnant women losing their children because they of the stress of the flight from the city. Apart from psychological
Trauma children seen had scabies and respiratory problems.

In conclusion the rapid assessment has been carried out late but will be a useful base to identify specific vulnerable groups in different parts of the city for NGOs who have emergency assistance funds. Promotion of livelihoods programmes and temporary employment programmes would help restore morale in the population and give much needed work.

Coordination is important between local government, UN and NGO stakeholders to ensure that aid is carried out to those most in need and to avoid duplication. ACBAR should provide support to NGO members with offices in Kunduz by appointing an ACBAR coordination focal point (regional manager) for an initial period of 6 months to support information sharing and coordination.

Building on the ACBAR organized regional NGO meeting on Afghan refugees, hosted in Kabul in August 2014, NRC/ICRI facilitated an NGO Thematic Regional Meeting to help pool the collective resources and experiences of NGOs working on operational responses to Afghan refugees and returnees across the region.

This is an invaluable opportunity to share programmatic and information updates, as well as determines appropriate joint program approaches  in relation to the ho- sting  environments  in  Pakistan and Iran as well as opportunities and challenges related to the return, repatriation and reintegration processes in 2014 and beyond. Central to this NGO meeting is the facilitation of program exchange between NGOs, UNHCR, donors and host governments in Pakistan and Iran, as well as the Afghan government. It is intended toinvite a small number of NGOs through the PHF and ACBAR   networks in Pakistan and Afghanistan, respectively. In Iran, ICRI will help facilitated participation of international and national NGOs opera- ting there.

The meeting was enabling NGOs across the region to explore and discuss updates with regards to: Context: PoR card renewal in Pakistan, Amayesh renewal scheme and Comprehensive Registration Plan in Iran, voluntary return and reintegration data etc.
Policy:  NGO engagement in SSAR implementation plans; overviews of relevant national policy developments relevant in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran impacting youth programming.

Gaps in response:  assessment of funding portfolios, donor priorities and NGO regional coverage Program responses:  with a focus on youth,   livelihoods   and   training,   looking at returnees   and pre--return    preparedness.    NGO case studies would comprise key learning tools for all participants. Primary outputs of this workshop include:
Joint Program Planning: Increased regional understanding amongst NGOs of successful programme outcomes for Afghan youth populations.
Information   Sharing:  Sharing   of information amongst NGOs that leads to enhanced program coverage and improved operational planning.
Advocacy: Identification of keys areas of programme support for displaced Afghan youth populations and proactive engagement with relevant actors (government, UNHCR, donors etc.)


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