Compared to other countries of similar size and political and economic stability, Afghanistan's infrastructure for peace is surprisingly strong. Harnessing a long tradition of tribal mechanisms for dispute resolution involving councils of the traditional elders of the villages, the Jirga model of dialogue, contemplation and decision-making has been used to help the country decide its future.
At the local and districts levels, Peace Shuras aimed for community peacebuilding. Two national NGOs , CPAU ( Cooperation for Peace and Unity) and SDO (Sanayee Development Organization) have established hundreds of Peace Shuras all over Afghanistan.
Besides those civil society led Peace Shuras, there was also a process towards a Peace Infrastructure, led by the government.
The democratically-elected Community Development Councils (CDCs) are part of the National Solidarity Program (NSP), operated out of Afghanistan's Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development to help identify, manage and monitor development projects and resources. The NSP provides direct block-grant transfers to the CDCs at 200 dollars per family. The CDCs improve local governance, making it more accountable and inclusive; they alleviate poverty and provide jobs. There are some 34.000 CDCs in existence, covering 80 to 90 percent of rural Afghanistan.
Many of these CDCs, especially those that are well established, have taken on conflict resolution and peacebuilding tasks. CDC membership overlaps often with the Peace Shuras and aim to help communities address tensions and conflicts in the development process. Many observers describe this CDC-program as a success.
Given the many challenges facing Afghanistan, there is a need for an even more formalised and coordinated effort to support peacebuilding at all levels. In particular, the newly established National Peace Council could benefit from training and support from Afghan peacebuilding experts.