Working with Social Movements in Afghanistan

Saturday 1 March 2003, by ALTERNATIVES

PHOTO: Catherine Pappas

Afghanistan is exhausted from decades of war, repeated droughts, and overwhelming poverty. Eight years of fighting the Soviets, followed by a 13-year internal conflict, have exhausted the population and exasperated ethnic rivalries.

Several external factors are arousing ethnic and religious tensions, while weakening traditional mutual aid between the different groups that comprise the Afghan mosaic. Since the war that followed the events of September 11th, the inter-ethnic situation has become even more complicated and the country is sinking into ethnic strife. Today, collaboration between the different groups remains precarious.

Alternatives is trying to address the problem at its source by supporting local social movements in Afghanistan. This work is divided into institutional support (financial and logistical support for day to day operations), and media training for Afghan civil society so they can use all the tools at their disposal as they try and build a culture centred on peace, dialogue and respect for differences.

Throughout 2003, Alternatives and its local partners in the Afghan Peace and Democracy Network, will organize a series of training sessions, seminars, and meetings to facilitate the process of rehabilitation, reconstruction, and reconciliation. Part of this work includes setting up an Afghan civil society Internet portal, a multimedia centre, and several publications - including a peace newspaper to be distributed in Afghan schools.

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