In the course of its existence, CHA evolved from an organization that mainly took care of emergency relief, towards a fully-fledged institution that is active in most of the sectors related to humanitarian, development, and peace. CHA’s history can be categorized into four main eras, as follows:
The organization was created in 1987 by a team of educated and experienced Afghan volunteers. The initial aims were to provide emergency aid for war victims in the field, to assist with the rehabilitation of rural and urban life, and to work with communities for sustainable development in Afghanistan. The first priority was to provide emergency help, in form of food and medical aid, for the civilian population in liberated areas. It was very important to provide the assistance locally, to avoid exacerbating population displacement and migration. The second priority was to assist (returning) families and communities by rehabilitating basic infrastructure, irrigation systems, roads, schools and clinics, for instance. In addition, some social services such as primary education and basic health and medical services were provided.
CHA’s main office was set up in outside Afghanistan to facilitate contacts with donor agencies, maintain records and do reporting and correspondence. This office also organized programs, and field inputs. Field operations were controlled through this office and a network of project site offices in different provinces and districts. Initially, CHA’s activities in Afghanistan were confined to two districts of Farah province, but in 1990 they were extended to all the districts of the province.
During this period basic services were provided mainly by UN agencies or NGOs. In this time CHA was mostly involved in the provision of emergency services especially to the people who were adversely affected by this man-made disaster. Although clashes continued in some places, including Kabul, the Western provinces were more stable, and the majority of refugees had returned to their places of origin. Longer term programs in permanent rehabilitation and development became possible only in 1992 when refugees started returning on a larger scale. In 1991, CHA gradually began implementing projects in Ghor and Nimroz provinces, which border Farah province. During this period CHA’s Kabul Office was inaugurated and was focusing on providing emergency live saving assistance to families affected by internal clashes/ conflicts between Mujahedeen factions.
After the security situation in Western provinces stabilized in 1993, CHA’s main office moved to Herat city, the center of Herat province. In addition the area covered by CHA was expanded towards Kandahar. The reason for this strategic shifting was mainly for establishing and maintaining contact with donor agencies.
During the time when Taliban came to power, the country was hit by severe drought; and most of the rural communities in north, central and west of the country were affected. The regime closed all of the schooling facilities for girls and schools for boys were also functioning without any attention to the quality of teaching. The government was not able to provide basic services like health. During 1996-2000, CHA actively participated in provision of health, agriculture services as well as emergency response for the people who were affected by drought in west and south of the country. CHA also played a vital role in distribution of food as food for work and supplementary feeding programs in South, West and north of the country. CHA also concentrated on reducing the dimensions of the internal displacement of population in north, west, south and the center by channeling food for work and other basic service in the hard hit areas by the drought in rural areas and assisting the IDP camps in the urban centers and facilitating any possible return of these people to their places of origin. During this time, CHA started to build the capacity of the organization in disciplines like health, education and agriculture and founded the basis for professional delivery of these services. CHA started initiatives for building the human capacity of Afghans by launching training centers at distinct level, Civil Engineering faculty in Herat province and Galaxy English Language and Computer Training centers in Herat and Kandahar. During 90s, CHA also developed an Accounting Information System (AIS), PMIS and another computerized systems. A Gender department was also established in CHA’s structure and most of the policies and procedure was reviewed and revised from gender point of view.
Right after 9/11 CHA’s main office was shifted to Kabul. With severe drought affecting every community in the country, the return and resettlement of more than one million Internally Displaced Persons and more than three million refugees, CHA played an important role in providing emergency assistance, managing transit camps in Herat for refugees coming from Iran, and delivering basic humanitarian and development services to its coverage areas. CHA provided employment opportunities to hundreds of thousands of unskilled people through active participation in reconstruction and through emergency employment projects as the likes of food and cash for work. These projects besides providing employment opportunities have had a great impact on improving law and order and stability in the country. For instance, the government Disarmament, Demobilization and Re-integration program has highly benefited from these employment creation activities.
From 2003 opportunities for rehabilitation of the country started but the new established government operation capacity was not in the extent to expand basic services especially to the rural population. CHA become an important partner in providing basic health and education services by implementing Basic Package of Health Services (BPHS) and Afghanistan Primary Education Program (APEP). Helping the establishment and promotion of local governance and the provision of block grants to communities through the National Solidarity Program (NSP) of the government and engaging and training staff of the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) in the process are all important steps that CHA has taken to address the issues facing a country in transition.
In 2004 CHA expanded its area of operation to Parwan and Kapisa province through undertaking a big Education project named Afghanistan Primary Education Program (APEP). Implementing of the Building Education Support System for Teachers (BESST) was another program that CHA intended to achieve the result of first to strengthen teaching by training all school teachers in two provinces in the fundamentals of good teaching and the mastery of the subject matter they teach. Subsequently in 2004, CHA went through an organization assessment process which resulted to drafting of a 5 years strategic plan in 2005. From 2006 to 2009 CHA mainly focused on the implementation of its strategic plan which was mainly focused on basic services delivery, development of civil society and advocacy.