Back to Learning: an Introduction

BTL

The Welfare Association for the Development of Afghanistan (WADAN) signed a partnership agreement with The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Kabul on April 17, 2017 to implement the Back to Learning (BTL) project. This UNICEF-funded awareness creation campaign; implemented in Kabul, Kandahar and Nangarhar Provinces ending on October 16, 2017, with a goal is to facilitate access to learning at local educational facilities for the children of 10,000 returnees and internally displaced people (IDP) as well as other out-of-school children. Under this project, WADAN will cover Dehsabz and the metropolitan area in Kabul, Punjwaye and provincial municipal areas in Kandahar, and Surkhroad, Behsood, Kama, Rodat and provincial municipal areas in Nangarhar.

To achieve this goal, WADAN will spread information and convey messages focused on encouraging school enrollment in the zero points (border areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan), and at UNCHR Encashment Centers where UNHCR distributes stipends to returning Afghans. These campaigns will be conducted in the communities where the returnees settle. Dedicated radio clips on enrolling children in classes will be produced and then broadcast on local radio outlets to mobilize the returnees, IDPs and local communities. During the project BTL staff will design, produce, and distribute brochures, leaflets, and posters describing and addressing the importance of education and schooling of all children in Afghanistan. These printed materials will be distributed at the encashment centers and the posters put up in villages, bazaars, in front of mosques, and other public places in the participating districts.

WADAN implements this project in close collaboration and coordination with the Ministry of Education, Department of School Management Shuras, their provincial and district level departments, local School Management Shuras as well as the UNICEF, UNHCR and International Organization for Migration (IOM) zonal offices, and other relevant government and civil society institutions.

Prevention of Violence against Children in Afghanistan project

 Child Protection Centre (CPC)

1sstMy name is Imran. I am 16 years old from Kot District of Nangarhar Province. My family currently lives in a tent in the Angoorbagh area of Jalalabad City.

“My father does not let me go to school; he says he cannot meet our financial needs. I cannot come home if I do not work. I am forced, threatened and hit by my father if I do not work.”

“My life has only garbage and used items; I wish I could live clean, wear clean clothes. I wish I could go to school like other children. Life is full of problems. Other children begin their days happily and leave home with a schoolbag. I begin my day with bad language from my parents and leave home with a sack of garbage. Childhood is not a time to work, it is our time to play, have fun, and change our conditions,” he said.

“Luckily I was identified by WADAN’s social workers while collecting garbage and rubbish from stores. I had dirty clothes, was unhygienic, physically weak and mentally stressed.”

After identification, WADAN’s CPC social worker Mr. Ameer Gul visited my home and talked to my parents about Child Rights in Islam and international laws. The social worker convinced them to send me to the CPC, where I would learn motorbike repair skills and how to read and write.

1sst2Now I am in motorbike vocational training, have learned how to open and fix motorbikes, and know the names of most motorbike parts and tools. I am actively participating in a literacy class as well.

“I had a dream of a day when I would no longer collect garbage and rubbish. I am happy to learn to read and write. After completing the vocational training course I plan to open a motorbike repair shop. I want to live a life of glory.”

“Thanks to WADAN’s CPC; they support me and others helping us create a life of honor dignity and self-respect. This initiative and support have really changed our personal lives. I was illiterate now I am becoming literate; I was a garbage collector now I am a person with technical skills.”

 Child Protection Centre (CPC)

2ndsst1Noria is 14 years old. Her father is disabled, a drug addict, and ruthless towards to his children. He forces them to earn money to pay for his heroin. Recently Noria got help from WADAN’s Jalalabad CPC and told her story.

She began, “We rent a house in the Angoorbagh area of Jalalabad City. I live with my parents and two brothers, who collect garbage from shops and streets. My life was very tough. I had many dreams, those of getting an education, and having a happy life.”

“My disabled and drug addicted father was always shouting at me, using bad language and forcing me to earn money to pay for his heroin. If I did not work I was taken out of the house and he hit me. My days began hauling water to my neighbors for meager pay. The money went to my father to buy heroin.”

“I was also harshly treated by community members. They did not respect me and used bad language. I just wanted a life with dignity and respect like other children have. I felt lonely and thought no one would help. Thank God one day I met the WADAN CPC Social Worker, my hopes are back,” she said.

“I am the one of those millions of Afghan children still deprived of basic childhood rights. I am one of the children who work in order to survive. I have the right to live with respect and am not obliged to work for his survival.”

2ndsst2“The first time the CPC social workers saw me I was collecting garbage in the bazar. At this meeting, I hid the reality of my life. When they met me the next day I told my story. The social workers visited my parents. They convinced them to send me to the Child Protection Center. My parents also were made aware of child rights in the light of Quran and Hadiths. And government laws regarding child rights were explained.”

“Now I love to come to the center every day; I learn plenty of things here. I am learning to read and write—a life-long dream. In addition my family and father now treat me better and with respect. My father no longer forces me to work. I love to study till late at night and do my homework,” she said with a soft smile on her lips.

WADAN Promotes Social and Political Accountability

A citizen of a well-functioning democracy has many responsibilities. In strong democracies, citizens have responsibilities such as paying taxes, participating in elections, and they should pursue their rights in accordance with the law.

To a great extent, a strong democracy and effective democratic governance come through the practice of social accountability. This form of responsibility emerges through civic education and actions by citizens and civil society organizations that intend to strengthen the relations between citizens and their government. State and government authorities, at the national, regional, and community levels are legally and ethically answerable for pledges they have made as well as for the rights to govern that are authorized by law.

Social accountability strengthens the links between governments and citizens, which improves the focus on public service delivery, monitors government performances, highlights the needs of vulnerable people in policy making and implementation, demands transparency and a decrease in corruption, and empowers marginalized people and involves citizens. When there are on-going active social accountability practices from the community level up, people are involved in discussing policies and plans, budgets and expenditures, delivery of services and other important aspects of participatory democracy. Without an active citizenry the culture of corruption prevails.

Since its establishment in 2002, WADAN has delivered many programs to encourage social and political accountability through engaging the traditionally most influential people at the grassroots, the Maliks who are the civic leaders, and the Mullahs who are the faces of religion that is the center point of village life. Through a program that supported the propagation of political transparency and socio-political accountability, WADAN encouraged the establishment of the National Malik’s Association (NMA) in 2005. Currently, with around 31,000 male and female members and 60,000 Malik’s trained in democratic rights, responsibilities, and procedures, the NMA builds bridges between citizens and government.  These bridges are built through workshops and training on peace and justice, the rule of law, effective leadership, social mobilization, anti-corruption, transparency, and social accountability.

Community elders discussing regional problems and solutions at the WADANNMA General Assembly in Kabul in 2007Community elders discussing regional problems and solutions at the WADAN NMA General Assembly in Kabul in 2007.

WADAN has conducted numerous town hall meetings, focus group discussions, and conferences at the national, regional and community levels that provided opportunities for

WADAN has conducted numerous town hall meetings, focus group discussions, and conferences at the national, regional and community levels that provided opportunities for Maliks, Mullahs, women and youth to have face-to-face discussions with government authorities to request their rights and to participate in the fight against corruption.

As an example, receiving a national ID or Tazkera is the right of every Afghan. However the long and complicated process to get a Tazkera is problematic for most people and this has caused a breech between the government and citizens. In Nangarhar Province, to encourage citizens to apply for a Tazkera and to simplify the process, WADAN produced radio messages that were broadcast by local stations, put on billboards, and printed in booklets that were widely distributed. WADAN facilitated the installation of a complaint box in the Nangarhar Provincial Population Directorate that provides an easily accessible opportunity for people to submit their concerns and report bribes and corruption issues. A committee comprised of several civil society organizations, various provincial directorates, and locally influential people were hired to assess the complaints and respond to the issues. So far, around 50 people have put their complaints in this box and all have been addressed and resolved by the committee. As the result, in studying these complaints the committee identified the problems in the Nangarhar In 2017, the Director of Nangarhar Population Registration Directorate explains the Tazkera acquisition procedure and how to use a complaint boxProvincial Registration Directorate (PRD) and has further simplified the Tazkera process. According to responses to our questionnaires, citizens are motivated to use the complaint box and to report their problems and concerns.

Another of WADAN’s approaches in promoting social accountability and transparency was to organize and conduct live radio programs and televised panel discussions hosting community elders, religious scholars, and local government authorities who took questions directly from their audiences. In a society where literacy is low, this kind of programming helps people understand their legal rights and responsibilities, promotes good governance and helps government officials and community authorities understand people’s problems by openly addressing the underlying issues related to developing a healthy democracy.

In 2017, the Director of Nangarhar Population Registration Directorate explains the Tazkera acquisition procedure and how to use a complaint box

  TUP-WADAN beneficiary in Dam Kali,Asadabad,Kunar

TUP-WADAN beneficiary

With support from the World Bank through MISFA, the Welfare Association for the Development of Afghanistan (WADAN) is implementing the Targeting Ultra Poor Project (TUP) in the districts of Sarkano, Narang, Chawki and Center Asadabad in Kunar Province. The TUP-WADAN team identified the socioeconomically most vulnerable families and the program is designed to assist them succeed using Livestock, Health, Social and Livelihood as the vehicles of positive change.  TUP seeks to improve lives through increased income, educating the children, and attending to food security and improved nutrition and healthcare on a sustainable basis.

Ghiasuddin is 39-years-old and lives in Damkali Village, Asadabad with his wife and seven children. He formerly worked for daily wages in the Asadabad bazaar and his wife did domestic work for their neighbors in exchange for food. Their son collected wood and plastic for cooking and heating. After selection as a TUP beneficiary Ghiasuddin’s family received a cow and a monthly stipend. He was trained in small business management and banking.

Now his son and daughters attend school. Through monthly savings he purchased a solar separator to make cream and yogurt that is sold after the family takes what it needs for their meals.

Ghiasuddin, his family, and his community are also pleased with the ongoing training that when shared benefits many and contribute to more stories of success in Dam Kali.

TUP-WADAN has created an idea of saving and through this, I have made a cheese to sell in the market and wish to enhance this business.

Farooq

With support from the World Bank through MISFA, the Welfare Association for the Development of Afghanistan (WADAN) implements the Targeting Ultra Poor Project (TUP) in Mehtarlam, Qarghayee, Alishing and Alingar Districts of Laghman Province.

The TUP-WADAN team worked to identify the socioeconomically most vulnerable families and the program is designed to assist them to succeed using Livestock, Health, Social and Livelihood as the vehicles of positive change. TUP seeks to improve lives through livelihood, educating the children, food security and improved nutrition and healthcare on a sustainable basis.

Farooq is a resident of Qala-e-Mahbas Village in Mehtarlam District. He was a laborer and lost his three brothers and one son in the war. He was the only one earning money for food for his family that includes his nephew and nieces.

According to Farooq last year WADAN started the TUP project asking all community members to participate in the Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA). The community elders introduced us to the WADAN as ultra-poor in the PRA. The WADAN-TUP team visited our house several times and I was selected as a beneficiary at first stage. In the second stage I was successfully selected in the lottery.

The team provided a productive cow and a 1,000 Afghani monthly stipend for livestock feed. They have also provided regular training on health and hygiene, livestock care, living within community, livelihood and saving money for the future.

The provincial TUP team trained us about how to keep the livestock and encouraged me to start saving income from selling the milk, yogurt, and cheese. My monthly savings are about 2,200 to 2,800 Afghanis. I have also become able to enrolled one daughter and one son in school.

Through TUP Farooq has become independent and self-sufficient. He is happy the TUP project has been implemented in his district as it directly helps poor people.

Supporting Civil Society Anti-Corruption and Civic Accountability Initiative in Population Registration Department (PRD) in Nangarhar Province

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On Tuesday, February 28, 2017 The Welfare Association for the Development of Afghanistan (WADAN) signed a partnership agreement with Democracy International (DI) in Kabul. The contract was signed by Mr. Habibullah Wahidi–WADAN’s Programs Director and Mr. James Wasserstrom – DI’s Chief of Party.

The Supporting Civil Society Anti-Corruption and Civic Accountability Initiative in the Population Registration Department (PRD) is an anti-corruption intervention funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through DI. The overall purpose of this initiative is to combat corruption, foster transparency and promote social accountability in the PRD in Nangarhar Province.

To achieve this goal, WADAN will apply a holistic three-pronged anti-corruption framework. First, WADAN will create demand for delivery of quality public services in PRD through public awareness and capacity development of relevant government officials, civil society organizations, women’s rights groups, human rights activists and youth unions. Second, WADAN will work to create a space for citizens’ voices to be heard through the establishment of a robust complaint registration mechanism. And third, WADAN will promote social accountability in the public service delivery process of Nangarhar’s Population Registration Department through the establishment of a functional oversight committee comprised of male and female members from the relevant government institutions, elected bodies and civil society organizations.

WADAN will implement this pilot anti-corruption initiative in close collaboration with the High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption, PRD, and other relevant stakeholders. The program started March 1, 2017 and will continue through June 30, 2017.

Livestock Distribution in Laghman

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The Welfare Association for the Development of Afghanistan (WADAN) conducted an opening ceremony for assets distribution of in the Targeting the Ultra Poor (TUP) Program in Laghman Province, funded by the World Bank through the Microfinance Investment Support Facility for Afghanistan (MISFA). The assets are cows that were requested by families participating in TUP. The event was held at the Information and Culture Department Hall on Sunday, May 8, 2016.

Qari Abdul Fatah, one of the beneficiaries, thanked WADAN and was particularly appreciative that WADAN had used several strategies in order to accurately identify the poorest of the poor families. WADAN’s selection strategy included coordination meetings with government and non-government stakeholders, the traditional, religious and community leaders. Gatherings for the people of the participating districts introduced to them the ultra-poor families who were chosen.

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Ghulam Sakhi Dehnawi, WADAN’s TUP Project Coordinator, introduced the activities done by WADAN particularly those that focused on the Eastern Region. He mentioned the importance of the TUP and stated the major expectations from the project stakeholders. He emphasized that WADAN is committed and would make all efforts to ensure the success of TUP.

Laghman Provincial Governor Abdul Jabar Naimi spoke; he thanked WADAN’s staff for all their efforts and expressed his pleasure at the identification of the right beneficiaries. He said that working for ultra-poor people in Afghanistan is a priority and he applauded WADAN’s undertaking. He assured the participants that his office would make all possible efforts to support the success of the TUP and would be pleased to collaborate with WADAN. He called the people of Laghman to work for peace and support each other for the development of Afghanistan.

During the ceremony TUP beneficiaries, Mohammad Akbar, Rural Finance Specialist from MISFA, Shikh Mahsel, Provincial Council head, religious and traditional leaders, Community Development Committees, Department of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock, Department of Information and Culture, Provincial Rural Rehabilitation Department representatives, and Abdul Fatah, Directorate of Economy spoke and expressed their pleasure and appreciation for this initiative that would certainly have a positive impact on the economic empowerment of poor families in Laghman.

To conclude the ceremony, Governor Naimi and the TUP Steering Committee Members handed over the cows to the beneficiaries and advised them to take good care of their animals and wished them success in their lives.

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Kuchi Health

Kabul_ WADAN Survey team interview with a vaccinator

Mobile Health Teams (MHT) Kuchi Survey

The Basic Package of Health Services (BPHS) was envisioned by the World Health Organization to provide equitable access to a bare minimum of essential primary health services for the entire population of Afghanistan, with a focus on rural areas. Program services include pre- and post-natal care, child health and immunizations, and family planning. BPHS has improved the provision of primary and secondary health care services through its network of district hospitals, community health centers, basic health centers and health posts using the wheel and spoke model. However, accessibility due to topographical challenges and scattered pockets of population compounded by segregated development and the lack of infrastructure such as roads and bridges has raised concerns about actual coverage.

Afghan nomads, known as Kuchi, have slowly over decades lost much of their traditional lifestyle and livelihoods due to conflict, drought and market competition. They are Pashto speaking people, mostly from the south and east of Afghanistan, who have traditionally been nomadic pastoralists. Before the introduction of roads and truck companies in the 1950s and 1960s, Kuchi camel caravans were important means of trading goods across Afghanistan. Their way of life has changed much during and since the 20th century wars began. As a result of land mines and the severe droughts of 1971-72 and 1998-2002, the Kuchis are said to have lost 75% of their livestock. Warlords and warfare blocked both their migration routes and access to summer pastures, and the traditional system of pasture rights has disintegrated. As a result of these changes, the majority of rural Kuchis are now semi-sedentary, living in the same winter area every year. Increasing numbers have purchased land where feasible and settled. Others, especially those who settled in the northwest of the country during Taliban times, have become 70% of the internally displaced persons now settled in or near Kabul, Herat and Kandahar Cities.

Kuchis are among the poorest households in Afghanistan. They are a population whose daily consumption of food and non-food items is estimated to be below the national poverty line. Most rural and displaced Kuchis live in tents or temporary shelters. They lack access to safe drinking water and sanitation. All are vulnerable to infection spread by animals since the women are responsible for caring for sick animals as well as their children and preparing food. And Kochi literacy rates are the lowest among all Afghans.

The WADAN MHT project survey and evaluation was to provide the Ministry of Public Health with detailed evidence on the implications of the project’s approaches and interventions on the overall health situation of the rural Kuchi population, and any project implementation related issues. The evaluation provided an independent review of MHT’s effectiveness, efficiency, equity and sustainability.

Through interviews with MHT clinic patients and staff, and community members WADAN’s survey team determined that the Mobile Health Teams provide essential health services to the widespread rural Kuchi population and further learned they would like to have more health services. Their primary request was for holistic services that include a wider range of diagnostic services and medicines, longer and more frequent visits by the MHTs, and more well-staffed permanent clinics.