A tented shelter in northeast Afghanistan was provided by UMCOR Afghanistan in its early days, working jointly with Mercy Corps
David Sadoo, UMCOR
By David Tereshchuk*
December 3, 2012—With the year 2012 approaching its end, the Afghanistan field office of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has completed an entire decade of dedicated operations.
Against a background of often severe insecurity and huge organizational challenges, UMCOR Afghanistan has nonetheless managed to provide essential relief to the people of that war-torn country.
It has contributed significantly to transitional development and to necessary reconstruction of Afghanistan’s basic infrastructure. Working across a wide range of provinces and districts, the mission has affected the lives of at least 1.1 million Afghan citizens.
Much of the assistance has been to enable Afghan refugees to return to their former homes, helping them with temporary or even long-term shelter. Integrated returns based on a holistic roster of programs have been a hallmark of UMCOR Afghanistan’s work since the beginning, and often have been conducted with international and local partner agencies.
The mission has addressed the continuing needs of Afghan returnees and vulnerable communities in four important directions: increasing support for sustainable livelihoods; making clean water more generally accessible and improving hygiene practices; meeting basic health and education needs; and transforming UMCOR’s assistance into enduring community-based services by strengthening capacity and ownership in the local communities themselves.
But insecurity remains the single biggest threat to UMCOR operations—and it is widely expected to worsen as the international coalition’s military forces continue their accelerated drawdown. While Taliban violence has risen, it is also clear that the Taliban are not the Afghan government’s only opposition, and that fighting across the country is taking on a more regional and tribal character.
UMCOR Afghanistan, though, is determined to press on with its mission with a set of strategic plans that build on the organization’s strengths and confront its challenges.
Vital to the ongoing operation will be work to increase collaboration with key agencies of the United Nations system, notably the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the UN children’s program, UNICEF.
UMCOR also will expand its well-demonstrated efforts to encourage individuals’ efforts to improve their own economic position. Innovative livelihoods training programs, especially those that focus on female-headed households, will be carefully promoted.
Your gift to Afghanistan Emergency, UMCOR Advance #602225 will support the ongoing work of UMCOR Afghanistan
*David Tereshchuk is a journalist and media analyst and a regular contributor to www.umcor.org.