DACAAR | Danish Committee for Aid Afghan Refugees
Side by side with the Afghan people since 1984 English | Danish


We carry a variety of emergency relief, early recovery and developmental interventions in Afghanistan. We tailor these to the needs and priorities of each targeted community, delivering interventions in an integrated way ensuring best outcomes for our beneficiaries.

Four thematic areas
Our interventions fall within one of the following broad thematic areas:
Gender as cross-cutting issue
Gender and women’s empowerment is integrated into all our work as a vital cross-cutting issue.

We promote interventions dedicated to women, addressing DACAAR’s affirmative action policy that strengthens the Afghan women given their disadvantaged position in the Afghan society.

Supporting national and international initiatives
In addition to the above, we are an implementing partner with the Citizen’s Charter Afghanistan Programme, that aims at helping poor communities to get a minimum level of services.

We align our programmatic objectives to and in support of the National Priority Programmes of the Afghan Government. We also directly contribute to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other relevant and important conventions such as Convention on Elimination of all Kinds of Discrimination against Women and UN Resolution 1325, which reaffirms the vital role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts.

Community-based approach
At an implementation level, we apply a community-based approach to our activities and work directly and in partnership with the Afghan communities through Community Development Councils and other relevant and available community structures.

Capacity building is key
All our interventions include capacity building of the communities and stakeholders as an overarching principle. We provide no inputs and resources without the transfer of the pre-requisite knowledge and skills that will enable the beneficiaries to sustain and multiply those resources to improve their health, livelihoods and quality of life.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

With more than three decades of experience, we are renowned as one of the largest Water, Sanitation and Hygiene providers in Afghanistan.

Through our interventions, we have helped establish more than 50,000 water points across 29 of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan providing millions of Afghans with safe drinking water.

A pioneer in the sector
We are one of the pioneering Water, Sanitation and Hygiene organisations in Afghanistan, not only for introducing new technologies and approaches but also through capacity building of this sector in the country.

We take Co-Lead in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Cluster, and we participate actively and regularly in Water Sector Group, Water Technical Working Group and Hygiene & Sanitation Technical Working Groups.

Taking part in these useful forums have put us in an advantageous position to lead the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene sector from the front and help shape how Water, Sanitation and Hygiene interventions are implemented in Afghanistan.

Life-saving emergency response
Our emergency Water, Sanitation and Hygiene response interventions are aimed at life-saving in the early stages of a crisis and target recent internally displaced persons and returning refugees, and communities affected by conflicts and natural disasters.

We maintain a robust emergency Water, Sanitation and Hygiene capacity in the form of fully equipped and readily deployable Emergency Response Teams, strategically located stockpiles of commodities and resource mobilisation capacity to launch rapid Water, Sanitation and Hygiene assessments and response in the majority of country’s crisis-ridden provinces. See map.

Sustainable solutions
While delivering emergency Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in the early stages of a crisis can make the difference between life and death for many displaced Afghans, sustainable Water, Sanitation and Hygiene solutions are as crucial in ensuring communities regain their dignity and resilience and embark on a journey of recovery and development.

As such the bulk of our programs are aimed at ensuring durable access to safe drinking water and sustainable hygiene and sanitation behavioural change.

Community-based approach
Our approach enables communities to operate and maintain their water supply systems over the long run.

Our Water Inspection Teams continually tour the communities to monitor and help with the repairing non-functional water points in the villages..

Monitoring groundwater all over Afghanistan
In line with our responsibility as the leading Water, Sanitation and Hygiene implementing organisation in the country, we maintain a Groundwater Monitoring System with an extended and growing network of Monitoring Wells spread across the nation. With the help of these wells, we measure water table and physical parameters in various river basins, collecting, analysing and mapping the data from these measurements and tests with the help of a specialised Integrated Water Resources Data Management System.

We make results available to the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene sector to help improve planning and implementation of water supply programs in the country.

Training, research, support and water testing
Similarly, we run a Water Expertise and Training Centre that helps build the capacity of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene implementers through conducting regular technical training workshops and action research and providing hands-on technical support to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene partners.

Our Water Quality Testing Laboratory is one of its kind and provides Water, Sanitation and Hygiene implementing agencies and the private sector with much-needed water quality testing services.

Water Expertise and Training Centre

Groundwater Monitoring System

Water Quality Testing Laboratory

Natural Resources Management

Our Natural Resources Management interventions are primarily agriculture and livestock focused and aim at improving productivity and production as a means to enhancing longer-term livelihoods and quality of life among vulnerable Afghan farmers and their families. These interventions are designed and implemented in accordance with the needs of each community and the geography they live in.

Irrigation is crucial
Irrigation water is a crucial element in farming; as such we help rehabilitate or reconstruct small-scale irrigation structures and build the capacity of farmers in community-based operation and maintenance ensuring improved and strong supply of water for farming.

In areas where irrigation water is not available, we support farmers in dry-land farming. Introduction of drip irrigation techniques is another method we have been promoting in regions where irrigation water is scarce.

Farm-based schools with practical approach
We primarily employ a Farmer Field School approach to our interventions. These practical farm-based schools bring together a group of farmers to engage in collective learning, experimentation and knowledge sharing over an entire agricultural season. They get updated knowledge and skills on farming best practices from our specialists on demonstration plots.

Upon graduation, farmers receive toolkits and materials to replicate their learning on own farms while they receive follow up technical advice and support from our specialists.

Farmer Field Schools are organised on a variety of agriculture, horticulture and livestock subjects based on a market analysis to ensure that farmers’ increased outputs are meeting market demands.

Saffron as valuable cash crop
In recent years, we have been one of the leading organisations in promoting saffron cultivation in Afghanistan. We have helped farmers in Herat, Faryab and more recently Kunduz and Khost provinces to learn best practices for Saffron cultivation, engage in Saffron value chain activities and form male and female Saffron Producer Associations.

Saffron is a highly valuable cash crop. Farmers can produce as much as 5.5 kilograms per hectare which they can sell for prices as high as USD 1,500 per kilogram.

Preventing moving sand
In western Afghanistan where many communities suffer from the moving sand phenomenon, we have been integrating community-based rangeland protection with agriculture and employment and business development activities.

In this way we help communities not only improve their village-based livelihoods but also protect and stabilise their rangelands in a sustainable manner.

Small-Scale Enterprise Development

Our Small-Scale Enterprise Development interventions are aimed at promoting business development and employment opportunities among youth and farmers in Afghanistan through the delivery of Vocational Development Programs and establishment of Producer Associations.

Courses up to 7 months
Our vocational training courses follow the strategy, procedures and curriculum advised by the Afghan Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyred and the Disabled.

These courses are market driven and centre-based. We decide the subject for each course based on a market-analysis to ensure they are in line with local demand, so graduates can find employment and/or start businesses in their local districts and towns.

Each course which trains up to 20 trainees for a period of up to 7 months includes daily practice sessions to ensure maximum transfer of technical skills. In addition to the technical skills, trainees get basic literacy and numeracy, including necessary business management skills.

Toolkit and grant to start own business
Once successfully graduated, we register the graduates on Government database for skilled practitioners.

We provide each graduate trainee with a toolkit and the option for receiving a grant to start own business. They are further entitled to expert advice and support by DACAAR field trainers during the first six months of starting a business.

Regular data collection and analysis from our vocational training graduates show that 90% of the graduates have successfully used the start-up grant to start small businesses in their local areas.

One-third female trainees
Between 2014 and 2017, we have successfully graduated close to 650 trainees (33percent women) from our courses in 9 provinces of Afghanistan. We plan to train another 2,800 in 12 provinces by 2021.

These figures do not include those women and girls who have benefitted from vocational training under our Women’s Empowerment efforts.

Supporting Producer Associations
Linked closely with the activities under Natural Resources Management component, we facilitate farmers to engage in collective value chain activities by supporting the establishment of Producer Associations.

Each association brings together as many as 150 farmers to collectively engage in processing, packaging, branding and marketing of their products in the local markets. This gives the association members the ability to negotiate better market prices for their products as opposed to if they engage the market individually.

Executive Leadership for Producer Association is decided as part of a fair election process.

The Producer Associations are registered with the Ministry of Justice and Law as community-based cooperatives. They develop their own by-laws with support from our Community Mobilisers.

DACAAR supports each Producer Association for a period of at least two years.

Women’s Empowerment

In addition to targeting women and girls as part of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, Natural Resource Management and Small-Scale Enterprise Development programmes, we carry out initiatives, exclusively, targeting women and girls to help increase Afghan women’s sphere of influence and livelihoods in the rural, peri-urban and urban areas of the country.

While the livelihoods interventions under Women’s Empowerment component follow the strategies and approach under Natural Resources Management and Small-Scale Enterprise Development components, the social interventions are implemented under the auspices of Women’s Resource Centres.

Income generation, education and capacity building
Women’s Resource Centres are self-organised collectives creating opportunities for member women to participate in income-generating activities and targeted educational and capacity building programs.

The centres serve as the primary vehicle for the Women’s Empowerment activities, allowing rural women to come together in a safe women-only environment, which is culturally accepted.

The women train, learn, and develop leadership skills, engage in small businesses and income-generating activities, discuss, share insight and knowledge and support each other.

30,000 members
The Women Resource Centres are legally registered with the Ministry of Justice and Law as Community-Based Organisations (CBOs) and linked strongly with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. The centres therefore operate in a legal fashion and are able to access the support and resources that are available nationally.

Each Women’s Resource Centre provides an opportunity for more than 500 women to come together from five villages and their Community Development Councils. Leadership for the centre is democratically elected.

Since 2004, we have facilitated the establishment of 49 Women’s Resource Centres with 30,000 members.

Given Afghanistan’s highly patriarchic society, it is not always possible to get the communities to agree to the idea of establishing a Women’s Resource Centre. In such instances, our support is not discontinued but rather focused on individual vulnerable women such as women who are heads of households until such time when the community agrees to the idea of a centre.

Citizens’ Charter Afghanistan Project

We are a facilitating partner in the Citizens’ Charter Afghanistan Project, a national flagship of the Afghan Government that aims at helping low-income communities to get a minimum level of core services. Community Development Councils that were established as part of the now completed National Solidarity Program are used as the platform and partner for line agencies to plan, manage and improve local-level service delivery.

Uniting communities, reducing poverty
The Citizens’ Charter aims to build united villages, urban communities and cities improving the relationship between the Government and its people and reducing poverty by providing basic services.

By channelling resources and support, the Government ensures the means to develop villages and urban communities and the Community Development Councils lead the development process and make sure that all men, women, and children are included in development initiatives and activities.

Rural and urban communities participate in planning of the projects, monitoring progress and the Government’s provision of the minimum services. Simultaneously,, Community Development Councils and their sub-committees work with various groups, including low-income families, to learn together and identify critical issues that prevent development or the uplift of certain groups and collectively find ways to address these obstacles.

Partnering with 850 communities
We are the Facilitating Partner for 850 communities in the Eastern Provinces of Laghman, Kunar and Nuristan Provinces.

Our role is a.o. extensive community mobilisation, facilitating the election of Community Development Council leadership and establishment of sub-committees and clusters.

We assist in capacity building on project management, proposal development, conflict resolution, finance & accounting, procurement, monitoring and other relevant areas.