Working Areas

HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation programmatic approach comprises five working areas and three transversal themes to address the complexity and multi-dimension of poverty. In Afghanistan it builds on the past six years experience, developed competences and on the achievements so far. The principles of Good Governance, Gender & Social Equity, Capacity Development, Knowledge & Learning are vertically as well as horizontally integrated into the program. The working areas and the transversal themes stem from the holistic thinking and inter-disciplinary work as basic approach to sustainable development. The interface between the working areas offers opportunities for a systemic and multi-stakeholder approach.
Conflict Sensitive Program Management receives particular attention in all HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation undertakings in Afghanistan.

Environment & Climate Change

Afghanistan is increasingly recording natural hazards such as flash/floods and droughts. The extreme land degradation increases the impact of natural hazards. This dramatic situation is aggravated by climate changes and the lack of knowledge, know-how and means of the rural population to reduce disaster risks. A holistic approach is needed to address the adverse events with low cost and adoptable measures for the rural population while improving their livelihoods. Hence, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation program in Afghanistan has a strong focus on Disaster risk reduction, watershed rehabilitation, building the capacity of the various field practitioners on SLM, supporting the rural population to adapt their agriculture and livestock systems to new climatic conditions in order to optimize the natural resources while preserving the natural assets. In 2013 the program will consolidate its experience and put more efforts in sharing Lessons Learnt and best practices.

HSI Strategy Environment & Climate Change

Rural Economy

The livelihood of the rural population counting for 80% of the total population is mostly based on agriculture and livestock. It has still the features of a subsistence economy as access to market, capital and information is out of reach for most of the rural population due to remoteness, absence of adequate services and poor education. Due to the volatile socio-political context the private sector has difficulties to emerge. Farmers try hard to find suitable cash crops. They are very much relying on middlemen coming to buy their production right from the field.
Each of the livelihoods mandates has a specific outcome related to enhancing the rural economy starting with optimizing Water and Land use Plans, improving the productive infrastructures, offering cash-for-work to inject cash into the local economy, facilitating access to agriculture inputs of quality for increased production, supporting the development of agri-businesses and of the organizational capacity of the producers, working on selected value chains, all what is required to create favourable conditions for the rural economy to flourish. Capacity building of national staff needs also great attention in this domain to steer the support given towards self-reliance and sustainable approaches of rural economy and livelihoods.

HSI Strategy Rural Economy

Water & Infrastructure

Water remains a central problem in the livelihoods of the rural population in Afghanistan. The supply of water for agriculture and drinking purpose is the single most important factor contributing to food security, income and improved health. The country’s basic infrastructure has been badly damaged by a quarter century of war and political upheavals. In addition, the rural population is increasingly confronted with drought and destructive flash floods which exacerbate the problems related to water and infrastructures. HSI is strongly committed to improve access to water and sanitation through construction and rehabilitation of spring protections, gravity water supply schemes, wells and sanitation facilities combined with hygiene promotion. Special emphasis is given to the setting up of operation and maintenance systems. And additional funding is sought to implement a WASH for schools and madrassas component.
Road repairs through a cash-for-work approach contribute to improve access to public services and goods and increase the income of participating households.

HSI Strategy Water & Infrastructure

Governance & Peace

In the context of Afghanistan Governance and Peace are core concerns and thus high on the agenda of the development actors. The main focus of most National Priority Programs adopted in the Tokyo donor conference in July 2012 aims at state building, enhancing governance and contributing to peaceful coexistence. The ongoing socio-political changes and increasing turmoil limits the outreach of the national programs to the centre. HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation has been working on Governance throughout its program as a transversal theme but also addressing it through specific support to local actors, mainly the Community Development Councils, District Development Assemblies, representatives of the state at local and meso levels. As soon as the socio-political situation stabilizes and allows, efforts towards state building and policy dialogue will receive more attention. In current stage of uncertainty Governance and Peace is focussing on the lowest level in order to strengthen the communities to manage the local development in the absence of state support and if access for INGOs is denied. Good local governance proves to contribute to peace and is re-enforced by further imparting the principles of Good Governance throughout the various program components, strategies and approaches.

HSI Strategy Governance & Peace

Education & Skills Development

The focus in the Education sector will be on improving quality education in Afghanistan as the 10 years efforts of the International Community and of the state have merely resulted in quantitative targets. It reaches a point where it becomes contra-productive; parents being discouraged to send their children to school due to poor teaching capacity of the staff. Students are losing hope in a better future. The past experience of HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation in the education sector confirms this report and can already build on the experience made in improving teaching quality. The new sector strategy will consolidate the initial achievements in this respect. Approaches and methods to improve teachers’ education and academic training for students to catch up with minimum requirements of formal education will be the core program in coming years. It will be consistently assorted with enabling pupils to attend school at the right age by supporting home-based-schools when the primary school is out of reach. Coordination with other actors of the education sector will be sought to share experiences made and build on success stories for increased leverage.

HSI Strategy Education & Skills Development

Transversal Topics

Efforts will be pursued to share knowledge in the various program components. The Sustainable Land Management Institute is offering ideal space for sharing knowledge in water and land management, environment and climate changes, governance and rural economy. In the Education sector the Ministry of Education together with the development actors meets once a month to share experiences, knowledge and best practices while addressing core issues faced by the implementing partners. HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation is an active member in this forum. Advantage is taken of selected national and international events to present the program components and share success stories and challenges.
CSPM and various in-house training for staff offer ample space for enhancing intercultural competencies of National and International staff. Each opportunity is taken to also sensitize the local actors and partners on relevant intercultural issues.
Since HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation is working in Afghanistan Social Equity and Gender has been a transversal topic but received also specific support through the sustainable livelihoods approach adopted in its core program. Considering the conflict context, social equity and gender are important factors to be considered as source of tensions and positive capacity for positive changes. The uncertainty of the future socio-political context requires various scenario to be developed in order to preserve the progress made so far in Social equity and Gender and find the ways and means to further address it even in worse case situation. In 2013 this transversal topic will also receive more attention in the capacity development program of the staff.
Considering the poor quality of education in Afghanistan, Capacity Building at all levels and aspects is a must and receives constant attention.

HSI Capacity Development
HSI Gender and Social Equity
HSI Learning and Innovation
Orchard / Khas Kunar / RLP
Tubewell with handpump in Hazrat Sultan CDC of Samangan province
Choshma Azem intake
Meeting of a Community Development Council
Girls at school
Carpet weaving, Ruy-e-Doab