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Image: Helping shuras fulfil their roles 
Photo: Mustafa Sarvary

Helping shuras fulfil their roles

Unless the local people participate in defining how things should be done, the solutions provided won’t fit the problems that they have. But often, people need to learn how to define the problem, find the solution, and most importantly, include their fellow villagers along the way. That’s where NAC comes in.

Helping shuras fulfil their role

Community Development Councils (CDCs), or shuras, in rural Afghanistan bear quite a heavy responsibility for the well-being of their respective villagers. They should manage the natural resources and infrastructure belonging to the village and solve conflicts within the community and with others. They should be able to see what needs to be done today, and arrange for problems to be fixed, and also be able to plan ahead to prevent problems from arising. Their work should be inclusive, taking into account the needs of all villagers. In short, it is a role that requires a profound understanding of both nature and society. Some shuras are performing well on some of their responsibilities, but most need some support.

In the beginning of the process, NAC identified which shuras need what support. In some cases it is the planning bit, while others need help with conflict resolution. Some were invited to visit other shuras and learn from them. In 2014, NAC went beyond simple training, to co-management of the projects at hand. NAC developed a community contracting scheme which was used to rehabilitate 400 km of roads in Faryab, Ghazni and Badakhshan. NAC engineers provided technical advice, the communities worked together to plan the road and each council mobilised their people to provide manual labour. This saves money and helps everyone realise what can be achieved when working together. Other results include councils in Ghazni helping farmers acquire quality seeds and regulating fellow pasturelands, and councils in Badakhshan establishing hydroelectric power and renovating schools.

Even where women are formally a part of the councils, the discussions are dominated by men and the binding decisions about development issues are also taken by men. But after NAC’s awareness raising, women are letting their voices be heard, particularly in Ghazni province. 

NAC’s support to civil society is a part of the Integrated Rural Development programme.

Norwegian Afghanistan Committee
Addresse:  Nawai Watt, Street # 03 •  Postal addresse:
work # 148 Shahr-i-Naw, KabulAfghanistan

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