Future Generations University Alumni


Practicum Summary: Women’s Participation in Elections: Why Women don’t Actively Participate in Elections in Helmand

Yasar’s practicum study examines why the participation of women in elections remains low in the Helmand region in southern Afghanistan, particularly in the 2014 election as it was heralded for its high turnout of voters of which 35% overall were women. To explain why this statistic provides an incomplete picture, Yasar conducted interviews with women from different sectors in the Helmand region and later completed statistical analysis of the results for greater comprehension. Yasar found that the reasons for low participation largely stemmed from lack of awareness of the rights and responsibilities of women regarding elections, as well as security concerns for the women travelling to the polling centers, which themselves are an issue as they are sparsely located in regions such as Helmand. Several diverse solutions were presented, ranging from an increased presence of female polling center workers to enhance safety and combat corrupt officials forcing women voters to vote for a particular candidate, to cooperation with respected centers of information such as schools and mosques to educate citizens about this issue. More large scale recommendations are for the Departments of Education, Justice, and Religion to collaborate and take responsibility for awareness and corruption. Yasar moves that addressing these issues being experience by the marginalized members of its society is the way to a sustainable social change in Afghanistan.


Practicum Summary: Street Children in Kabul City, Afghan Children after Decades of War: Challenges and Opportunities

Farid’s study examines the situation of street children in Kabul City and seeks to understand the reasons behind child labor in urban areas in Afghanistan. The purpose of this research is to advocate for street children through the Afghan Voluntary Network and the Child Protection Action Network. Three decades of civil war in Afghanistan carried heavy consequences; often children lost their parents in conflict or one of them became disabled. In result, children often abandoned education to help support their families by working. Under Taliban rule, women are not permitted to work, so male children and adolescents must enter the work force as the head of household. According to the National Risk and Vulnerability Assessment conducted in 2007, roughly 1.9 million children, 21% percent of 6-17 year olds, are child laborers in Afghanistan. Using a qualitative approach, Farid conducted focus group discussions, semi-structured questionnaires, informal conversations, and observations to collect his data. Through his data analysis, Farid discovered the main causes of child street labor are poverty, addiction to opium, displacement, unemployment, a war affected family, and a family with a disabled head of household. He also highlights the negative effects of short term, donor-driven projects conducted by NGOs such as overlapping work, lack of expertise in the field, and a failure to recognize the needs of children. In order to ameliorate the situation, Farid recommends that the Afghan government provide educational and economic opportunities for street children, promote child advocacy through volunteerism, collect accurate data about the needs of street children through the government, and develop a plan to fight opium addiction.


Practicum Summary: Research on why youths are sacrificing their lives and committing suicide for militants: a study on the influence of culture, location, and economy on their decisions

Popal Habibi’s research identifies the comparative factors that motivate youths to join militant groups in Afghanistan. Research was collected by interviewing 38 individuals including youths who returned from militant groups, their family members, community members, and members from rule of law agencies. Also, two case studies discuss the recruitment stories of two youth who returned from militant groups. The research shows that militants are developing their own recruitment plans based on community context, ethics, and personal interests of the youth. Unintentionally, youths have fought for the personal interest of groups, countries, or leaders for decades. In the Nagrahar and Parwan provinces of Afghanistan, the majority of youths interviewed were motivated by wrong religious information, poverty, family conflict or unemployment, as well as in some cases gaps between the government and local people as a result of a weak government. Another factor includes the government’s inability to provide basic services to the community, resulting in mistrust in the government as well as desire to join militant groups for economic and security reasons. A lack of accurate information on the motivation factors associated with recruiting youth creates problems and confusion in the policy design for constructing counter-narratives and interrupting the youth recruiting processes. In his findings, Popal determined that the militant’s recruitment process is different for each individual, taking into consideration ethnicity, education, interest, culture, and age. In order to prevent militant recruitment in the future, Popal recommends creating sessional workshops and seminars in government peace and stability programs on relevant contextual subjects revising the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program for those who are returning to a peaceful life in a secure place after being involved in a militant group, strengthening the rule of and justice system, and identifying what youths are specifically looking for and providing them with a desirable alternative.


Practicum Summary: Cultural Dialogue: An approach to social cohesion in Kabul City, Afghanistan

Reyhaneh’s research practicum focuses on the challenges and opportunities of intergroup dialogue between the Sikh and Muslim populations in Kabul City, and seeks to identify what impact this dialogue has on promoting social cohesion and mutual understanding. In order to collect data on the learning processes of and outcomes for youth of different ethnical backgrounds, Reyhaneh created a program dedicated to the promotion of peace and social cohesion through cultural dialogue. Using surveys, observations, and interviews, the study revealed that community members believe that cultural exchange through conversations and involving women as leader’s discussions have a great impact on improving intercultural relations between the Sikh and Muslim communities. In order to strengthen social cohesion between the two ethnic groups, Reyhaneh recommends implementing national policy with both parties involved, raising awareness about cultural exchange, addressing issues of prejudice and bias in communities, and including intercultural dialogue in public school curriculum.


Practicum Summary: Role of Community Development Councils in Conflict Resolution at the Village Level: A case study of Dushi and Khinjan Districts of Baghlan Province in Afghanistan

Zakir’s research seeks to identify what role Community Development Councils play in resolving conflicts at the village level in the Dushi and Khinjan Districts of Baghlan Province in Afghanistan. At the village level, locals are faced with conflict over land disputes, livestock, water, armed aggression, and other violence that leads to civil and political instability. In order to address regional imbalance and equity, the government of Afghanistan launched a number of development and reconstruction programs to emphasize the process of development and peace. These National Solidarity Programs aim to build capacity by encouraging Afghan communities to identify, plan, implement, and manage their own reconstruction and development projects and lay the foundation for strong local-governance through Community Development Councils. After carrying out a series of case studies and interviews, Zakir determined that Community Development Councils are indeed effective in mediating conflicts at the local level. However in order to sustain the CDCs, he recommends improving the councils by creating government-ordained guidelines for which types of conflicts the councils can mediate, investing in conflict resolution subcommittees, incorporating more respected elders into mediation, and providing additional training in conflict resolution.


Practicum Summary: Study of Perceived Positive Deviant Communities in South and Southeast Afghanistan

Amanullah’s practicum focuses on community’s uncommon, but successful behaviors and strategies that have successes in managing security, development and peace building in their areas without any outside intervention. Using field-based listening techniques of open-ended questions and observations and questionnaires, Amanullah explores the determinants and dynamics in the existence of practices in positive deviant and non-positive deviant perceived communities in the Khogyani District of Nangarhar and Andar and the DehYak District of Ghanzi Province and Khoshi District of Logar Province. Through his study, he was able to identify and learn how communities have traditionally succeeded in maintaining peace and security in their villages—positively deviant communities, while whereas their neighboring communities with the same resources have not achieved this peace—non-positive deviant communities. In Taliban-controlled regions of Afghanistan, any raising of the community voice against the Taliban’s rule of law is considered deviant, and is considered a punishable sin. Through his data collection, Amanullah found that communities who did experience some resistance against the current regime, a deviant community, had the authority to act and resolve their issues without involving other parties, but only if the community institution is respected, maintained, and practiced. These social systems have either been developed by their forefathers or recently developed by their own action, but normally in the presence of Taliban military force or wealthy families with the resources to enforce these rules. Although it is often accompanied by armed force, Amanullah discovered that communities with strong local leadership that promoted the interests of the local community were more often than not communities that experienced high levels of peace and security. Amanullah believes that actively engaging the local community can increase communities’ opportunities for peace.


Practicum Summary: Knowledge, Attitudes, and Decision-Making Processes Regarding Children with Acute Respiratory Infection and Acute Diarrheal Disease in the Charahi Qamber Internal Displaced Population Camp

The goal of Pir Mohammad Paya’s practicum study is to better understand the knowledge, attitudes, practices, and decision-making processes with regard to children with acute respiratory infections and acute diarrheal diseases in Qamber Interna Displaced Population Camp in Afghanistan. This study also seeks to better understand the underlying factors and to collect relevant information to design effective interventions in efforts to reduce the prevalence of communicable diseases among the children in the Internally Displaced Population Camp in Kabul. Using qualitative data assessment in the form of focus group discussions split between male and female groups, 7 participants were identified to participate according to certain qualifying factors. These qualifying factors required that women have at least one child less than 5 years of age, each man was the husband of a woman participating the FGD, and all subjects participating signed the translated informed consent. After conducting an analysis, it was determined that both participating men and women had a very poor overall understand of acute respiratory infection and acute diarrheal disease. Pir Mohammad Paya recommends initiating an awareness campaign within camp using posters, stickers, brochures, and aired messages through mass media. He also advocates for a mosque-based educational approach in which religious leaders facilitate public health education and home-based visits by trained female community health workers. In the long term, he recommends the establishment of a girls’ school where a female teacher would be culturally acceptable, distribution of hygiene kits, an increase in trained community health workers, strengthened health education programs in health facilities, and increased access to safe drinking water to reduce the prevalence of infectious disease.


Practicum Summary: Increasing Women’s Participation in Afghan Elections

Maryam Safi’s research aims to discover the problems associated with women’s participation in Afghan elections and the ways to improve conditions preventing participation. Using qualitative and quantitative research methods, Safi presents the importance of women’s participation in the election, trends or challenges of women’s participation in the election, solutions for existing problems and the realities of upcoming elections. She conducted 100 questionnaires and interviewed 22 individuals, along with implementing 2 focus group discussions with representatives of people in the Afghan parliament, members of civil society organizations, government officials, members of political parties and community remembers in order to complete this research. From her research, Maryam concludes that the majority of people believe in the importance of women’s role in shaping a safe and secure future in Afghanistan, and that women’s participations in elections is essential. She also points out that threats of insecurity, Afghan culture, family issues, gender inequality, lack of electoral awareness, lack of access to polling centers are major trends hindering women’s participation in elections. She recommends that the government of Afghanistan, the international community, and local citizens should support women’s participation in elections and influence figures who represent Islam in the community such as religious leaders and scholars.


Practicum Summary: Health System in Afghanistan

Besmillah’s research study was conducted to analyze the role of Family Health Action Groups and Community Health Workers on the betterment of peoples’ lives without outside support in the Siyadara and Rostam valleys of the Yakowlang district in Afghanistan. In order to collect data, 20 Community Health Workers and Family Health Action Groups were interviewed, observed, and served as participants in focus group discussions. From the data collection, Besmillah discovered that community workers who gathered health information from discussions amongst their target communities struggled with finding transportation to visits in their area, decreasing access to community workers at high need sites. Also, community health workers do not get paid during training; Sakhizada presents information supporting that community health workers will be more dedicated if the government and supporting organizations provide financial incentives for these workers.


Practicum Summary: Strengthening Synergy and Coordination Among Local Governance Institutions

The purpose of Ajmal’s research is to find and analyze ways to strengthen synergy and coordination among different local governance institutions in Afghanistan. After the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in 2003, various local government institutions have received funding, but have little or no understanding how these funds will be allocated to best serve public interests. A lack of synergy and poor coordination exists among the institutions and elites and warlords continue to hold significant influence on decision-making at the local level. Ajmal states the intent of his study is to understand the roles and functions of local government institutions, explore and analyze the interaction among local institutions, and to identify a way to apply a SEED-SCALE, bottom-up approach to improve their effectiveness. He focuses on four villages of Surkh Rod and Behsud districts in the Nangarhar province of Eastern Afghanistan. Ajmal recommends the promotion of a decentralized government with independent local institutions who are aware of each other’s duties in order to strengthen the political structure and coordination among branches.


Practicum Summary: Changes in Afghanistan’s Community-Based Health Care

Said Arwal Habib’s research addresses the existing policy frameworks that are in place within the primary line ministries, at a national level, and the changes that took place in the Department of Community Based Health Care in the Ministry of Public Health in Afghanistan. Within his study, he discusses the design and implementation of the Community-Based Health Care system and analyzes the outcomes and impact of the system on affected communities. In 2002, the Ministry of Public Health started training volunteers who would work out of health posts in larger villages, aiming to cover 100-150 households. Said Arwal Habib concluded that the program depends on the participation of the people, and the program will grow only when there is peace in the country.


Practicum Summary: The Role of Health Committees in Strengthening the Peripheral Health System in Takhar, Afghanistan

Nazir Rasuli’s research reviews current practices in the healthcare system at the peripheral level as well as compliance with the Ministry of Public Health, Community Based Health Care policy and health committee guidelines. Due to Afghanistan’s ranking 173 out of 178 on the United Nations Human Development Index, the Basic Package of Health Services for primary health care and the Essential Package of Health Services were created as strategies for community based health care for secondary and tertiary levels of Primary Health Care in 2002. Since the defeat of the Taliban in 2001, medical services in Afghanistan have primarily been provided by NGOs contracted through the Ministry of Public Health. A decade ago, only 9 percent of Afghanistan’s population of 28 million people had basic health coverage; today, nearly 85 percent of the population has access to basic health care within a 2 hour walk. In order to conduct his research, Rasuli conducted interviews and focus group discussions with leading health workers, health shora members in 4 health facilities who serve as the committee and council, and the public health directorate. The specific issues Rasuli addresses in his research is the deficit in managerial and technical capacity of the health council’s members in monitoring the health facility and strengthening the health system, and the low awareness of health council members about their relevant roles and responsibilities in the national community based health care program. Ultimately, Rasuli concludes that providing training for health shoras on conducting and managing meetings, creating capacity building programs by NGOs, increasing interactions between the community and the health facility, and updating health shoras on current staffing conditions should be included in a comprehensive strategy to improve the overall effectiveness of the health shora and overall Community Based Health initiative.


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