Applying Camp Management Methods to Urban Displacement in Afghanistan

Anna Hirsch-Holland

Forced Migration Review, Issue 63, February 2020


The shift to out-of-camp urban displacement presents a particular challenge to agencies working within the camp management sector. A desk review, conducted by the Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster in 2014, found that the camp management approach addresses needs that are just as pertinent in out-of-camp settings, including: access to information and feedback mechanisms; structures for community participation and self-management; and coordination between multiple stakeholders to ensure efficient and effective service delivery. The NRC was one of the first agencies to pilot approaches that draw on the skill set of camp management, including in Afghanistan where it targeted urban neighborhoods in and around the eastern cities of Jalalabad, Asadabad and Mihtarlam. There were three inter-linking components: community outreach teams, community centers, and neighborhood committees. Some encouraging results emerged including: improved access to information among neighborhood residents; vulnerable beneficiaries matched with available services and protection; additional service provision for individuals and communities that might otherwise have been left behind; and strengthened participation of community members in the planning and implementation of development initiatives.

The authors identify the following challenges and lessons learned including: (1) lack of clarity in the humanitarian architecture with regard to coordination of the out-of-camp displacement response; (2) the need for a narrow geographical remit, which poses challenges for scalability; and (3) the challenge of engaging with local and national authorities. The author concludes that the adaptation of the camp management approach to urban out-of-camp contexts is a work in progress, but experience from Afghanistan shows that its practical methods for enhancing two-way communication, structured community participation and localized multi-sectoral coordination could provide the key to addressing some of the most pressing challenges of displacement in towns and cities.