OCHA resumed its operation in Afghanistan in 2009, providing humanitarian assistance in a complex environment where separate – and not always complementary – military, political and security objectives pose challenges to the implementation of humanitarian principles, the ability of responders to reach people in need and the safety and security of aid workers.
Afghanistan has been in protracted conflict for almost thirty five years, which has seriously hampered poverty reduction and development, strained the fabric of society and depleted its coping mechanisms. Additionally, over the past five years, armed non-state actors have challenged the territorial control of the Government and expanded the geographical scope of the conflict beyond the southern and eastern regions of the country.
Since 2001, international aid efforts have considerably scaled up and so has international military intervention. Human development indicators show some improvement in absolute terms particularly over the last ten years. However, Afghanistan remains ranked in the bottom decile of countries in the global Human Development Index at 175 of 186.
Afghanistan is prone to recurrent natural disasters. Given this underlying fragility – at the economic, political and security levels – the country is not able to cope with the consequences of such disasters, which puts additional strain on humanitarian actors working on the ground.
OCHA’s work in Afghanistan focuses on assisting the most vulnerable by coordinating the delivery of effective humanitarian aid and principled humanitarian action. To this end, OCHA ensures that:
- Humanitarian decision making is based on a common situational awareness. OCHA sits at the centre of multiple information flows coming from a wide range of sources. By collecting, analysing and disseminating the right information at the right time, OCHA enables decision makers better understand the context in which they are working and take well-informed decisions. To this end, OCHA works to provide a compelling contextual analysis and to ensure access to high quality and timely data and information.
- Humanitarian action is guided by joint strategic response planning based on prioritized needs. Effective humanitarian response requires all actors on the ground to have a common approach in order to effectively meet the needs of those in need. To this end, OCHA coordinates and supports joint needs assessment, inter-sectoral analysis and prioritization, and joint strategic response planning, monitoring and evaluation of collective responses.
- Coordination mechanisms are adapted to the context and support the effective and coherent delivery of humanitarian assistance. Effective coordination helps humanitarian actors achieve better collective results. Specifically, it helps actors to prepare, assess, plan, respond and monitor as a team. It enables actors to maximize resources and respond more effectively to the needs of people affected by crises. To this end, OCHA supports a more decisive and strategic Humanitarian Country Team, leads and supports inter-cluster/cluster coordination and identifies and develops flexible coordination solutions.
- Humanitarian financing is predictable, timely and allocated based on priority needs. OCHA works with partners to consolidate and analyse overall funding requirements for humanitarian response and then helps, through advocacy, to raise resources. By complementing other funding sources, pooled funds play an important role in ensuring a well-led, well-coordinated and effective humanitarian response. Towards this end, OCHA coordinates system-wide advocacy to mobilize resources for humanitarian response, supports the use of pooled funds strategically, predictably and in a timely manner to respond to prioritized humanitarian needs and promotes stronger coordination through multilateral funding mechanisms
- People in emergencies are protected from harm and have access to assistance as a result of advocacy and coordination. Effective humanitarian responses require full, timely and unimpeded access to people in need. They also must aim to meet the immediate needs of affected people and provide a secure environment that promotes and protects the full respect of the dignity and rights of individuals, in accordance with the letter and spirit of relevant bodies of international law. Protection broadly encompasses the activities aimed at obtaining these ends. To this end, OCHA improves and sustains analysis, monitoring and advocacy on humanitarian access, bolsters collaborative protection coordination and strengthens protection advocacy.
- Preparedness helps respond to humanitarian emergencies without delay and with the right assistance. Effective responses depend on adequate preparation. Preparedness saves lives and can reduce the cost of responding. Consistent and coordinated preparedness measures build the readiness of humanitarian actors prior to the onset of a crisis or a sudden new shock as well as during on-going crises that may deteriorate. To this end, OCHA works to improve response outcomes through system response readiness.