Three decades of war and civil unrest have wreaked havoc on both Afghanistan‟s environment and the lives of its people. Since over 80 percent of the population live in rural areas and depend economically on the country‟s natural resource base, effective management of these resources is absolutely critical. The most urgent threats to the Afghan environment include over-hunting, deforestation, dry land farming, water diversion, over-grazing, land encroachment, and climate change, and an ever-growing population that puts additional pressure on essential natural resources. After decades of conflict that destroyed both government institutions and local management structures and left an entire generation of Afghans without appropriate education or experience, there is little to no technical capacity to implement sustainable resource management at either the community or government level. This situation threatens to undermine the entire reconstruction effort in Afghanistan – if people cannot feed and shelter themselves or their families, efforts at improving governance, infrastructure, and overall security will have little chance of long-term success.
The Improving Livelihoods and Governance through Natural Resource Management (ILGNRM) contributed to Afghanistan’s capacity to conserve and sustainably manage its natural resources and improve the livelihoods of the rural communities in Bamyan and Badakhshan provinces. The program included a national capacity building component involving the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (MAIL) and the National Environment Protection Authority (NEPA). The program also improved governance by strengthening linkages between local communities and regional and national government bodies.
Through its main activities the program promoted tourism and created jobs in the process for the Band-e-Amir National Park as well as in Ishkashim and Wakhan. Activities also included training of park and protected area rangers, development of ranger stations, environmental education programs (e.g. an environmental education program in schools and a community conservation outreach program), and implementation of park conservation activities. The program also supported the MAIL and NEPA to create the Afghanistan Parks and Wildlife Authority.