Introduction to CEN
In Afghanistan the definition of civil society in the form of organizations and groups also includes shuras, jirgas, Community Development Councils and other traditional structures and representatives such as the ulemah or maliks. Due to traditionally weak structures It can be debated which actors should be included in the definition of civil society. Examples of civil society actors in Afghanistan include NGOs but also other social, ethnic, religious, women’s, youth, arts, trade unions, traditional, tribal or clan groups, and others that are active in promoting a given cause these different organizations have been a vibrant side of Afghanistan’s governance relations and have continued to play an important role influencing government and its decision-making.
Following these assumptions, the expectations from establishing “Civil society Empowerment Network” CEN, are the following topics:
- Role of civil society in political decision-making processes and government’s accountability;
- Principal challenges and opportunities for civil society in keeping the government accountable, transparent and responsive to the needs of the population;
- Strategies / recommendations towards an: Enhanced contribution of civil society in government decision making processes and strengthened accountability and transparency of the government.
Since especially civil society actors in the provinces play an important role as intermediary of the local population – but are not yet sufficiently integrated in the overall debate. The civil society has been playing an important role in the overall structure in Afghanistan since the catastrophe and crisis soon after the fail invasion of former USSRR red army.
Since then the NGOs played different strategic roles that suited the needs of the time for the needy people of Afghanistan.
In 2008 coordination of Afghan Relief (CoAR), Organization for Sustainable Development and Research (OSDR), and Skills Training and Rehabilitation Society (STARS) took the initiative of establishing an active network. The move came to make the relationship between these organizations more systematic and formal after cooperating with each other in different areas proved to be more productive.
Furthermore, the initiative of establishing this network is in accordance with the NGOs Law; Article 9 which states that Non-governmental organizations can enter into partnership and networks to improve, expand or implement their activities and projects. Also the current trends and the need for reconstruction of Afghanistan lend sufficient justification.
The Civil Society Empowerment Network (CEN) is a net where NGOs discusses issues of the country and region particularly on the situation of peace, Humanitarian and development cases.
The second issue for CEN is the empowerment of civil society and contributing to strengthening the capacity of CEN members anticipated analyze, prevent and respond to threats to the stability and human development posed by violent conflict and crisis in Afghanistan. The CEN membership geographically and thematically helped the CEN organization to reach to all the remote areas and contribute to information dissemination in the country.
This is indisputable fact that CSOs has an important role to play in driving change and innovation in democracy for sustainable development, CEN members are operating on bases of networking, skill development and advocacy and interventions at community level for mobilization and community’s empowerment, our strategic interventions is to provide support to the civil society organization by strengthening the capacities of their organization and the quality of their programs.
This is based on genuine reflection on the nature, roles, achievements, failures, challenges and opportunities found within the sector and that developing and strengthening organizational and technical capacity will maximize the potential within the sector to provide the needed leadership responsive to the promotion of the common good. Our interventions for the next five years will provide the network for effective implementation, scaling up and collective action. By clearly identifying our positions, we intend to focus our activities on the strategy developed for strategic plan (Securing sustainable development and human dignity Strategic Plan CEN 2012-2017 Arne Strand October 2012).
The non-profit sector is facing demanding social challenges, increasing competition, duplication and isolation all these amidst little resources by building stronger and value based partnership we hope to achieve that which we cannot achieve on our own.
We propose to enhance networking as a strategy to strengthen institutional and sustainable development interventions. This will help in providing connections and build critical thinking across the various sector.
We propose to strengthen our relationship with the government for join programs development and effective coordination improve collaboration and strengthen linkages among the member to enable mutual learning and increase programs quality promote networking with local/urban based organization for scaling up and impact. Support and strengthen local structures for easy administration of members’ activities in the region.
Aid to Afghanistan is decreasing and there has been a drop in the amount of money given to civil society organization. There is a hope to have productive results of debates and struggling CSOs after WHS in 2016 Istanbul, Turkey to ensure the rights of National NGOs by pursuing a joint voice for LOCALIZATION and Big Bargain.
We therefore propose to do the following:
Cultivating relationship with the government and private sectors to expand the resource base thus ensuring the future sustainability and stability of our humanitarian and development work, assume a leadership role on behalf of the members, by becoming a valuable source of information.
Provide capacity building opportunities on different techniques for resource mobilization strengthen member’s communication and marketing skills leading to better image profiling.
With increasing number of membership CEN is thinking of facilitating a networking platform among the existing networks in Afghanistan in order to build sustainable partnership and better incorporate the efforts being made by the civil society and other likeminded actors in Afghanistan.
Mohammad Naeem Salimee PhD
Chairman of CEN
(Civil society Empowerment Network)