Uruzgan presents an enormously challenging operating environment for development activity. An estimated 35-45 per cent of the province remains outside government control, and anti-government attacks are reported, on average, every day. Much of the province, particularly outside of the provincial capital and the district centres, is for the most part inaccessible to non-local development staff.
Uruzgan is also one of the most under-served provinces in Afghanistan. Adult literacy is just seven per cent for men and less than one per cent for women, less than 40 per cent of children are in school, and the maternal mortality rate is one in 40. Recent years have seen some increase in access to basic services, but the reach of government services and the efforts of development actors have been – and continue to be – hampered by insecurity. Development activities have preferenced the more accessible districts, with just 40 per cent of development actors operating outside the districts considered to be secure.
But some NGOs do operate in districts where government control is tenuous, and where access is restricted. NGOs operating in these districts have adopted a range of strategies for implementing and monitoring their programs, relying to varying extents on community groups or staff and/or volunteers who are local to, and work in, the districts. But capacity at the district level is extremely low, and this mode of operating presents enormous challenges for NGOs striving to assure the quality of services delivered.