Counterpart International’s in-country team, most of whom are Afghan nationals, are implementing a civil society development strategy that has been used and refined by the organization in more than a dozen countries over the past three decades.
Called a “cascading model,” it starts with seven Intermediate Service Organizations (ISOs) which are well-established local groups that are considered to be the best in their class and have the strongest reputation among other civil society groups.
Counterpart and its international technical partners train these ISOs and each of them in turn support two Civil Society Support Centers (CSSCs). The CSSCs are spread throughout the country and each one collaborates directly with 108 Community Service Organizations (CSOs) in their regions to improve their skills and effectiveness. The CSOs work directly with NGOs in their area.
Intermediate Service Organizations
Counterpart works with seven ISOs in Afghanistan. They are:
Afghan Civil Society Forum Organization (ACSFo)
This organization is an informal network of civil society groups who organize and facilitate dialogues at multiple levels. They aim to develop and integrate the concept of civil society into Afghanistan’s peace and reconstruction process. Established in 2001 at the Afghan Civil Society Conference, the ACSFo believes that civil society includes those who come together voluntarily to participate in civic affairs for the common good, without consideration for personal or political gain, and in peace. The network is made up of approximately 59 organizations and individuals, including NGOs, social and cultural organizations, educational institutions, media players, Shuras (local councils), members of the private sector and youth groups.
Afghan Women’s Educational Center (AWEC)
AWEC is a non-governmental organization dedicated to the promotion of rights, self-sufficiency, empowerment and understanding among Afghan women and children. They raise awareness on these issues through education, health and socio-economic development projects. The organization has its headquarters in Kabul from where it runs various projects, primarily in the areas of Kabul, Paktya and Mazar-e-Sharif. They first began their work in 1991 and since then have opened their own high school, carried out literacy programs and skills development training, and established the Center for Street Children and Women in Peshawar.
Afghanistan Center for Training and Development (ACTD)
The ACTD is a non-profit, non-political and non-governmental organization working for the development and transformation of civil society in Afghanistan. The organization was established in June 2006 by a group of Afghan professionals to offer research, training and consultancy services to help others develop their knowledge and skills that could be applied to reconstructing Afghanistan. They have an active presence in four provinces of Afghanistan, namely Herat, Kandahar, Nangarhar and Balkh, and work with 21 smaller civil society organizations in Kandahar, Helmand, Uruzgan and Zabul.
Association of Defence for Women’s Rights (ADWRO)
The Association of Defence for Women’s Rights is based in Balkh and caters to the legal needs of Afghan women. The organization was established by 12 civil society actors in 2002 and since then has been carrying out activities advocating for social and legal rights to bring about lasting improvements for Afghan women. The ADWRO looks forward to a society free of any kind of physical and mental violence against women, and one where women share an equal role with men in building an independent and prosperous Afghanistan.
Basic Education and Employable Skills Training (BEST)
BEST wants to help create a peaceful and developed civil society in Afghanistan, where resources and economic opportunities are available in an environment that fosters progress. They provide basic education, skills training and encourage micro-enterprise development to help create sustainable employment opportunities and generate income throughout the country. BEST also links with partners on projects targeted at educating returnee children and former Afghan soldiers.
Educational and Training Center for Poor Women and Girls of Afghanistan (ECW)
Since 1997, the ECW has been working with poor Afghan women and girls in the country’s capital of Kabul. Their goal is to support and help impoverished women, girls and children, who are in need of economic and social assistance. They run literacy programs, provide handicrafts training and carry out awareness programs about the role women can play in Afghanistan’s developing society. They also work with orphans and street children through a variety of programs that encourage them to develop their talents so they can become self-sufficient whilst enjoying some semblance of a childhood while they are still children.
Women Activities and Social Services Association (WASSA)
The Women Activities and Social Services Association was established in 2002 and is deeply committed to creating gender-equality and empowering women in Afghanistan. The organization promotes gender-equal participation in the country’s socio-economic sectors and works directly with communities in order to bring about change in society’s attitude towards women. While they focus on women in their work, they understand that the peace process and reconstruction of Afghanistan needs the contribution of both men and women.
Civil Society Support Centers
The CSSCs are spread throughout the country and each collaborates directly with 76 Community Service Organizations (CSOs) in their regions to improve their skills and effectiveness. The CSOs work directly with NGOs in their area.
Afghanistan National Reconstruction Coordination (ANCC)
In 1995, the Afghanistan National Reconstruction Coordination organization started out in Quetta, Pakistan with the aim of contributing towards sustainable development and peace in Afghanistan. They work with impoverished communities to eradicate poverty and injustice, with a special emphasis on women, children and minorities. From 1995 to 2010, the ANCC has implemented more than 180 projects in five Afghan provinces, namely: Kandahar, Uruzgan, Nimroz, Zabul and Helmand. Their goal is to help Afghanistan transition from a post war country to a prosperous one, where everybody has the right to live with dignity and honor and the ability to attain their social, economic and political development.
Development and Ability Organization (DAO)
Established in early 2004, the Development and Ability Organization works to ensure that all Afghans with disabilities have the opportunity to fully and actively participate in Afghanistan’s social, economic and political environments. In order to achieve this, the DAO advocates for greater awareness about disability rights, encouraging equality and fairness for all Afghans. Through income generating projects and vocational training, the DAO also helps those with disabilities support themselves economically. They make a concerted effort to include women in their programs, aiming to ensure that half of all participants are women.
Developing and Educational Organization for Women (DEOW)
The Developing and Educational Organization for Women works to empower women by giving them access to a variety of skills training, women’s rights and legal aid programs. The organization was put together by nine civil society actors in the province of Faryab in 2010, all of whom shared the common vision for a dynamic and gender equitable society in Afghanistan. To date, successful projects have included a health and hygiene course for youth and children, and an event in Maymana city campaigning for the elimination of violence against women on International Women’s Day 2011.
Humanitarian Assistance & Facilitating Organization (HAFO)
The Humanitarian Assistance & Facilitating Organization is an agriculture-focused organization that started out in Peshawar, Pakistan in 1990. Their vision is to bring more land back into cultivation and to restore pre-war agriculture productivity and self-sufficiency in Afghanistan. The HAFO does this by improving local animal breeds, providing an adequate water supply for drinking and irrigation, restoring historical monuments and establishing vocational education centers. By helping Afghans in rural areas to regain their livelihoods, whether they are carpenters, farmers, tailors or laborers, the HAFO is fostering future development in Afghanistan.
Coordination of Afghan Relief (COAR)
The Coordination of Afghan Relief has been working to create a just and equitable society in Afghanistan for over 20 years. They raise awareness about citizen’s fundamental freedoms and carry out projects for rural rehabilitation, literacy and agricultural development. Established in 1989, COAR has been helping communities improve their standard of living and encourages participation in Afghanistan’s social, cultural, political and economic spheres. They advocate for a strong functioning civil society through community mobilization programs and policy dialogues.
Training Human Rights Association (THRA)
The Training Human Rights Association raises awareness among women about their rights, according to Islam, the Government of Afghanistan and international laws. Informing Afghan women of their rights, and encouraging them to exercise those rights, will lead to a more inclusiv participatory civil society. Founded in October 1997, the THRA has designed numerous programs to achieve their goals including: Literacy, IT and English language courses, human rights workshops, training on election observation and awareness campaigns about women’s rights within the Neka Nama (marriage contract).
Afghan Amputee Bicyclists for Rehabilitation and Recreation (AABRAR)
The AABRAR began in 1992 as a program to provide bicycle-training to amputees, enabling them to travel to and from work and save on transportations costs. Today, the organization works to resolve many of the issues that disabled and vulnerable groups in Afghanistan still face. Vocational training, mine awareness, sporting activities and organizing job placement opportunities are just some of the ways that the AABRAR carries out this work. By rehabilitating and integrating these marginalized groups into the larger socio-economic and cultural community, they have the opportunity to contribute to Afghan society and dispel any negative attitudes about disabilities that people may have.
Help the Afghan Children (HTAC)
Help the Afghan Children is dedicated to improving the lives of children in Afghanistan by providing educational and emergency relief services. The organization envisions an Afghanistan in which all children have access to education and health care, and will be able to contribute positively to their families, communities and nation. HTAC helps to establish community-based schools, train local educators and introduce innovative learning programs. Since they began their work in 1993, some 44,747 students (60 percent of whom are female) have taken part in education programs. Medicines and supplies benefitting more than 42,500 men, women and children have also been distributed by HTAC.
Peace Organization (PO)
The Peace Organization initially began its work helping women and youth to design and implement agriculture projects. Today, the organization supports Afghanistan’s most vulnerable segments of the population through a variety of projects. The PO’s main goal is that one day all Afghans, especially women and youth, will have the vocational knowledge and skills to support themselves. Established in 2008 in Takhar, the organization also works to strengthen civil society. They recognize that without it all other development efforts in Afghanistan will be greatly hindered.
SHUHADA Organization (SO)
SHUHADA works towards establishing an Afghanistan where quality social services are provided based on the principles of democracy, rule of law, social justice, peace and nondiscrimination. The organization provides services in the areas of health, education, human rights, women’s empowerment and democracy, with a particular focus on Afghanistan’s marginalized women and children. To date, SHUHADA’s progress and achievements include: constructing 104 schools, providing education to more than 60,000 students and supporting four hospitals and 15 clinics in Afghanistan’s Bamyan and Ghazni provinces.
Legal and Cultural Services for Afghan Women and Children (LCSAWC)
The LCSAWC provides Afghan women and children with legal and cultural support by providing training and public awareness projects and interacting with Afghanistan’s judicial institutions. Established in Peshawar, Pakistan in 2000, the organization was registered in Kabul two years later and began giving workshops about legal issues and information seminars. To date, the LCSAWC has developed a police training manual, trained almost 90 female police officers and assisted more than 30 women in prison with their legal cases.
Coordination of Rehabilitation and Development Services for Afghanistan (CRDSA)
In 2002, a group of Afghan volunteers, eager to help Afghans in need, came together and formed the CRDSA. The organization contributes to social, cultural and economic rehabilitation in Afghanistan, by providing support to those working to improve livelihoods, education and the level of civic participation in the country. The CRDSA is currently operating in six provinces of Afghanistan namely: Herat, Ghor, Farah, Kandahar, Helmand and Badqhis. They also make a significant effort to incorporate gender mainstreaming into their work and ensure that the smaller organizations they work with do all that they can to encourage women to participate in Afghan civil society.