Decades of ill-advised emergency relief programs have compromised the willingness of rural communities to take initiative to improve their lives. It appears to be easier for many of them to wait for the next donation than beginning work to rehabilitate their destroyed resource base. Furthermore, the majority of farming families in Afghanistan are now so dependent upon off-farm labour income that it is difficult for them to invest effort into activities that do not yield an immediate monetary return. Lack of technical knowledge is pervasive. No effective government extension capacity exists because of the lack of technical specialists with sufficient theoretical and practical knowledge to work in agricultural extension; no farmer to farmer learning tradition exists, and individualistic behaviour of farmers limits cooperative learning. Ill-advised past efforts at community mobilization during the Communist government have thoroughly discredited concepts of communal action successful elsewhere, especially the farmer cooperative approach. University programs in agriculture do not teach practical skills, and effective vocational training in agriculture is virtually not available; accordingly, there is no dependable framework for the building of qualified human capacity. Our program responds by re-building, in cooperation and with substantial contributions from partner communities, agro-ecological resources (rainfed forage production on rehabilitated rangelands, rainfed fire fuel production, water harvesting and storage, kitchen gardens for improved food security and family nutrition, livestock feeding and management extension). We have developed a strategy for cooperative community mobilization that emphasizes community responsibility, contribution and communal management and sharing of benefits. In a series of technical papers we communicate our work in progress and lessons learned.