Summary notes on the MENA NGO fora meeting, held in Amman (Jordan) on July 2-3, 2014
Following the signing of the Geneva Accords on Afghanistan in April 1988 and the subsequent withdrawal of Soviet military forces, the United Nations Office for Coordination in Afghanistan (UNOCA, changed to UNOCHA in 1993) was formed to administer the Afghanistan Emergency Trust Fund established by the UN Secretary-General. UNOCA quickly opened offices in Kabul, Islamabad and Peshawar, while the UN agencies – which had limited their activities to areas under the control of the Kabul government during the war – now sought to expand their coverage. At this point international NGOs dominated service provision within Afghanistan through crossborder networks which had taken years to build. By 1997-1999, 75% of a total NGO expenditure of $376.4 million was managed by 45 NGOs out of an estimated 300 NGOs working in the country. On the other hand, international NGO primacy had lead to a relatively weak national NGO community, and coordination between NGOs was weak. There had been some attempts to improve coordination, the best known example being the Coordination of Health Committees in Peshawar, which sought to agree standards for drug lists, medical training, and related issues. One thing that united NGOs working in Afghanistan was a strong sense of independence which had developed in the absence of both government and UN presence. The UN Humanitarian Coordinator asked ICVA to send a mission to set up an NGO coordination function, but before that around 40 international and national NGOs came together independently in a series of meetings in Peshawar. A steering committee was formed, and statutes drawn up for a new coordination body, and on 20th August 1988 the Agency Coordination Body for Afghanistan (ACBAR) was formed.