From BDF to AfD, growing aspirations
In 2001, after the fall of the Taliban and decades of war, Afghanistan was a shattered country facing colossal challenges. The existing infrastructure was often destroyed and obsolete. This inspired a group of Afghan professionals to cooperate with local populations with a vision for the country’s development, which led to the creation of Bakhtar Development Foundation (BDF). BDF was the first Afghan NGO to undertake research projects on community health on a national level.
BDF: an Afghan initiative
From the very beginning, BDF’s core mission was to work at the grassroots level to assist locals in developing their skills and knowledge with the final aim of ensuring a brighter and successful future for Afghan people. In a country with as harsh a terrain as Afghanistan, reaching a mother and baby in need is extremely challenging. This is why BDF led midwifery training programs focused on safe delivery and postpartum care for traditional birth attendants in the southeastern regions. These midwives were trained in sanitary and effective delivery procedures that helped reduce Afghanistan’s maternal mortality rates, which are among the highest in the world. Traditional midwives have proven to be a reliable workforce at the service of mothers and babies in isolated and poor communities. The Foundation created strong ties with local communities by building grassroots relations, paving the way for a new era of cooperation leading to the empowerment of community leaders (men and women), recognizing their rights, and increasing their prospects for a better livelihood.
Strengthening of the network and change to BDN
In 2005, wishing to use its programs’ success to further extend its networking, BDF became Bakhtar Development Network (BDN). BDN pursued its endeavors in the areas of health service delivery, water and sanitation, capacity building and training of women and men in various fields. The focus is on empowering women through access to education and knowledge. Within a few years, BDN has sprouted from a small NGO to an Afghani development leader. This success is due to an effective bottom-up approach through participation, community empowerment and ownership of the programs. BDN’s approach gave every program the potential to be influential and sustainable across the six provinces where it was implemented. This was an unprecedented success for a national Afghan NGO.
Programs recognized for their expertise and rewarded for their efficiency
The pioneering practices led BDN to receive awards for extraordinary achievements for its programs across Afghanistan. The program in the Balkh province received an award from the World Bank. BDN’s health facility in Ghazni became a model recognized by the USAID. Ghazni provincial hospital was also ranked the top hospital among 13 USAID-funded hospitals. The program in Baghlan got an outstanding recognition for achieving overall goals of the program and showing the best records in a monitoring and evaluation study of the John Hopkins University.
AfD, an international initiative for empowerment
In 2009, BDN’s board of trustees recommended the organization’s expansion onto the international scene. After a decade of successful program implementation, Bakhtar Development Network Global was registered in Geneva Switzerland in 2011. In 2015, the organization changed its name to Action for Development (AfD) to facilitate its globalization impact.
AfD currently seeks to build up and strengthen networks of institutions and organizations at the global level and establish partnerships with international organizations to form a global network of associations with similar mandates and goals. Together with its partners AfD aims to address the health and educational challenges deprived communities face and improve the lives of those most in need through new funding opportunities from international sources and by the establishment of partnerships with international organizations.