A Thoughtful, Analytical Approach to NGO Security

Qwam System Charts

A while ago I was struggling to understand influence and social connections in Afghanistan. It seemed to me that more than a few Afghans in positions of authority had trusted contacts on both sides of the conflict. It was something I didn’t really understand until I came across references to the Afghan Qwam (or Qaum) system.

I can’t claim any great insight beyond the simplistic explanation that a Qwam is a shifting solidarity network that exists for the benefit of the group and its members. Qwams compete with one another for influence and resources but there is also competition within the group. It appears that Qwams, at least in Afghanistan’s current fractured society, cut across family, tribal, and even ethnic boundaries.

Afghan Qwam Clip

In an effort to better understand the Qwam concept I mapped some connections in Analyst’s Notebook. Since I never used them for anything beyond my own efforts at understanding I’m making them available here. Maybe some of you smart types out there can make better use of it.

Qwam - Analyst’s Notebook version
Qwam - .pdf version

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This work by Kevin Toomer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License.
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