While present obstacles to humanitarian access must be overcome, durable solutions based on the Afghan development strategy must be assessed and given priority attention. In other words, helping the Afghan government design targeted and prioritized reconstruction and development projects geared towards prevention and management of natural or man-made disasters will go a long way toward lifting up 8 million Afghans out of abject poverty.
Representatives of the international community are quick to point to the issue of corruption in explaining their hesitancy to give greater authority to Afghan authorities and citizens in determining their own fate. But the doubters should keep in mind that there are existing programs that are producing results.
One prime example of success is Afghanistan ’s National Solidarity Program. Utilizing block grants, people in over 20,000 villages across Afghanistan have organized in community development councils to identify their own local needs, and, working with an implementing non-governmental organization, either local or international, to address those needs. This process is helping to slowly build the capacity of poor Afghan villagers. It is also promoting gender equity in decision-making, and is facilitating humanitarian access to communities where insecurity often makes it hard for international aid organizations to deliver assistance.
Although existing insecurity is a major factor fueling humanitarian needs in Afghanistan, warfare is not the sole source of distress. The country is landlocked and features a rough, arid and inaccessible terrain. Even during peaceful times, Afghanistan was vulnerable to humanitarian crises, created by frequent natural disasters, including droughts, earthquakes and disease.
Even when peace finally returns to Afghanistan , the threat of humanitarian emergencies will not recede. Afghanistan needs to be prepared for a normal future.