The first step in any project involves making a technical assessment of the needs. This helps to identify and analyse the main problems, define what measures need to be taken and which is the most urgent work to be done.
“Prison directors tell us they like the way the ICRC includes them in every step of the process, ” Engineer Eqbal remarks. “We sign a memorandum of understanding with them before we begin a project and this helps to give the prison authorities a sense of ownership of the process. The ICRC prefers to work in partnership, not through substitution.”
Memorandums of understanding are drawn up in both English and Dari or Pashto. They define the scope and limitations of the ICRC’s support. They also give responsibilities to the prison authorities concerning the maintenance of the completed works.
Ensuring clean living conditions for detainees is another essential task. Teams of specially trained hygiene promoters visit jails to give lessons about basic hygiene to detainees and guards. The aim is to maintain adequate standards of cleanliness even in the most overcrowded facilities, allowing detainees to retain their dignity and self-respect.
Before starting any project, agreement is reached with local prison directors and the relevant government ministries over what the work will entail. The ICRC will only undertake a project when the authorities are unable, for whatever reason, to do the work themselves.