01 Apr The Making of the 2013 A to Z Guide
After hundreds of emails sent, copious amount of tea consumed at government offices,and countless hours spent agonizing over InDesign, the latest edition of the A to Z Guide to Afghanistan Assistance is in your hands. Compiling this eleventh edition has been an interesting journey through the myriad of actors, programmes, and organisations working towards building a stable Afghanistan.
Like the handful of A to Z Guide interns before me, I arrived brand new to the country but so very eager to learn what I could. In a country like Afghanistan, where situations, organisations, and players change rapidly, the importance of an up to date Guide only became clearer the more days I spent here. With the aim of the Guide being to enhance the general understanding of the array of actors, structures, and government processes related to aid and reconstruction efforts, and in a context where information is not always ready available, this publication truly is very valuable.
For the many aid workers, diplomats, government officials, and journalists that have gained familiarity with the A to Z Guide over the years, some changes will be evident. The provincial profiles of the tenth edition were so very warmly received that it was an element of the Guide I was interested in keeping. Yet, to avoid reprinting and reiterating the focus of last year, some amendments were made. Unfortunately, the extremely valuable 2013 National Risk and Vulnerability Assessment figures were unavailable at the time of research, but a new format needed to be created: The short political introduction to each of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces will hopefully offer readers a snapshot of the make-up and faring of the different provinces. The comparative development table compiled with last year’s indicators is designed to make clear the contrasts and similarities across Afghanistan.
As for new additions, I wanted to include some of the very important research organisations at play in Afghanistan, highlighting that a crucial element of assistance derives from quality research, particularly when, as with AREU, the research aims to influence policy making. Thus the bulk of new entries gave prominence to nine Afghan-based research organizations.
Some faithful readers may also note a shift in the structure of the Guide this year.Though the A to Z section is kept, I have attempted to make clear the differences between the programmes and initiatives led by different actors,thus distinguishing between government, non-governmental and civil society, and Afghan-International programmes. Though this distinction often is blurred, this broad categorisation may prove useful as a starting point.
The year 2013 is important for Afghanistan; the penultimate year of transition, where the responsibility for Afghanistan’s security will be handed over to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). The Guide aims to reflect this with the inclusion of an expanded entry on the Transition and on the conferences in 2011 and 2012 dedicated to the Transition and the Transformation Decade of 2015-2024.
Afghan photographer Jawad Jalali, the man behind all the photos for the 2013 Guide,shared a wide selection of captivating images showcasing an Afghanistan often missed in international media. The cover photo is of a train in Mazar-i-Sharif on Afghanistan’s first railway, with three members of ANSF at the forefront. We thought this could be symbolic of the next phase of Afghanistan’s journey through Transition and into Transformation.
Maria Hunskaar worked with the Communications & Advocacy team as the A to Z Guide Intern from September 2012 – January 2013.