Following the invasion of Afghanistan by the Former Soviet Union in 1979 and the ensuing uprising of the Afghan people, millions of Afghans poured across the border into Pakistan and Iran in what came to be known as one of the world’s biggest and most protracted refugee crisis in the second half of the 20th century.

On the other side of the border, in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province (Now called Khayber Pakhtoonkhwa), tens of camps were established to deal with the influx of refugees who often left their homes with very little or no possessions. The amount of refugees had overwhelmed the capacity of the UN institutions and NGOs who struggled to deliver life-saving humanitarian and livelihoods assistance.

Sewing Project marks the beginning

A group of Danish Volunteers at the height of the Afghan refugee crisis in January 1984 laid the foundation for DACAAR with the commencement of a Sewing Project in a Gandaf Camp in Sawabi District of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa in Pakistan.

The project provided women with an income-generating activity that could be accomplished within the constraints of the Afghan cultural environment and at the same time supported the continuation of traditional Afghan embroidery.

Water supply in refugee camps

In July 1986, DACAAR took over water supply to refugee camps from UNICEF and by 1987 saw a major expansion of activities under the Water Supply Project. Two new projects – the DACAAR Hand Pump Factory and the Access Road Project – were started, and the Water Supply Project increased coverage and maintenance activities. By 1988, DACAAR worked for Afghan refugees in camps throughout the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa Province.

Moving into Afghanistan

The most significant change for DACAAR came in 1989 when we expanded with a Rehabilitation Programme in addition to the Refugee Programme. The purpose of the Rehabilitation Programme was solely cross-border reconstruction work inside Afghanistan which marked our operations in Afghanistan to this day.

With the overthrow of Taliban at the end of 2001 and subsequent establishment of the Transitional Islamic Government of Afghanistan, it was finally possible for us to move our Main Office from Peshawar, Pakistan, to Kabul. We remained operational in Pakistan until end of 2005 and over the years delivering water supply in the Afghan refugee camps.

Key player

Over the last one and a half decade, DACAAR has made a name for itself as a leading NGO involved in the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan for the benefit of its people.

We are supporting the efforts of the Afghan Government and the international community with the implementation of hundreds of humanitarian and development projects across most of Afghanistan’s provinces.

Click here to read a chronological history of DACAAR.