SUB-NATIONAL CIVIC ENGAGEMENT AND OUTREACH
Afghanistan Youth National and Social Organization (AYNSO) as a nonprofit, nonpartisan, and social organization is dedicated to helping young Afghans understand and advance democracy. With a grassroots network reaching all 34 provinces of Afghanistan, AYNSO empowers young men and women to make their voices heard to reform and enrich the democratic and social fabric of their country. Envisioning just, equitable and progressive society in which young people fully independent to enjoy social, economic and political rights in a democratic space, this organization has been implementing various projects over the course 10 years since established. Through these projects aimed to decrease the distance between state and citizens by building trust, raising civic and voter education and observing the electoral process. Being involved in the electoral process, since 2009, AYNSO has identified that the Afghan citizens took part in the ever first 2004 presidential election with high trust and enthusiasm. But this trust and enthusiasm to build the sense of the national process’s ownership declined occasionally whenever they witnessed the later elections. Based on AYNSO’s over a decade of experience which was particularly partnered by National Democratic Institute-Afghanistan Office (NDI), International Republican Institute (IRI), Democracy International (DI) and National Endowment for Democracy (NED), focusing on, civic and voter education, election observation during 2014 and electoral reform within the electoral management bodies through advocacy approaches since late 2016 till now, AYNSO has noticed that civic and voter education for the sake of enhancing sense of ownership by the citizens towards national processes like elections is crucial for building a democratic society. Hence, AYNSO has been highly committed to providing civic and voter education in support of elections.
AYNSO is currently functioning in 19 provinces including Badghis where the organization has conducted a pre-electoral assessment for the purpose of active engagement in the electoral process. Through this assessment, AYNSO has found that in rural districts of Badghis, i.e. Qadis, Abkamari, and Jowand; the voter’s turn-out was recorded extremely poor in contrary to the entire population in past election in 2014 this claim is also affirmed by NDI through their website: Afghanistan Election Data. According to the findings from this website, the voter turnout during 2014 presidential election in Badghis province was 136,257 while the number of voters registered during 2018 for the next election according to the Independent Election Commission (IEC)’s Official Website is 79,056. These figures affirm that the number of registered voters during 2018 has decreased by %42 in comparison with the voter turnout during 2014 which has ranked Badghis in the bottom of the provinces’ list in terms of voters registered. On the other hand, the registered voters constitute only %15 of the provinces’ entire population estimated by the Afghanistan Central Statistics Organization (CSO), which in turn illustrates the low tendency of citizens in participation to the election.
Furthermore, based on AYNSO’s experience through conducted Dialogue Assemblies in the mentioned districts and the Town Hall Gatherings held in Qala-e-Naw during 2016 and 2017, the organization has learned that the role of local community groups, civil society, and district traditional groups, youth including male and female for public participation was tremendously poor in gathering, sensitizing and educating the district citizens on the electoral process. The role of civil society organizations and district shuras was passive which failed to engage civil society with the government officials and educate them on the various aspects of elections.
Additionally, the key challenges in way of effective participation in electoral process, are poor availability of information, lack of interest due to high level corruption, poor understanding on voting importance, unawareness of women, knowledge about importance and types of elections, civic education and civil society poor coordination for polling elections.
Bringing all of the aforementioned findings together, AYNSO through the Sub-National Civic Engagement and Outreach Grants (SCEOG) is interested to provide voter and civic education to citizens in support of presidential election in early 2019 in Qala-e-Naw, Qadis, Abkamari, and Jowand Districts of Badghis Province considering the following goal and objectives:
To provide voter and civic education outreach and materials to Afghan citizens in support of Presidential elections in early 2019.
- To increase citizens’ sense of ownership towards election through community-based education sessions.
- To assist the election administration in its task of holding a fair and credible election by raising awareness and increasing inclusivity through education sessions.