… should be the ultimate goal of each and every NGO. But this is not always easy, especially when you’re working in highly insecure areas – such as Aghanistan. Asuntha Charles, head of Oxfam office in Kabul, knows what she is talking about. In this interview she is referring to all of the more than 300 international NGOs in Afghanistan and she is trying to explain what are the challenges and what are the opportunities to build sustainable structures. The situation today in Afghansitan is a structure of dependencies which most likely will put thousands into unemployment when international help will step back from Afghanistan in the years to come. Asuntha argues that it is very hard for development workers in Afghanistan to design successful solutions because they have almost no direct contact with those the programs are designed for. (The obsession with) Security destroys many things … But security and how to deal with it is a different discussion.
Asuntha gives us some great insights into her daily work. For her – as for many others we’ve spoken to – education is key to improve people’s lives. The GREAT IDEA project is her first education project – she sees huge potential in the field of mobile learning.
Her over all outlook into the future of Afghanistan isn’t though really optimistic!
Assumptions to improve the status quo (from my naive point of view):
- bridge the gap between locals and expats
- build “with” the locals, not “for” them
- design communities, not just bureaucracies
- avoid economic dependencies
- provide max. transparency in all your activities
- respect and accept cultural differences – the “western” model doesn’t necessarily work everywhere in the same way
- work “for” the people and NOT for your own interests