Rebuilding programme calls for US$50 billion
KABUL, 11 June 2008 (IRIN) - The government of
Afghanistan is optimistic it will receive strong
pledges from donors for its five-year national
development strategy, to be unveiled at an
international conference on 12 June in Paris.
"The finalised strategy has been submitted to the
World Bank and other international organisations to
orient it for the donors' meeting in Paris," Sultan
Ahmad Baheen, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, told IRIN in Kabul.
The Afghanistan National Development Strategy, the
result of more than two years of extensive
consultations with Afghan and international
institutions on developing the war-torn country, seeks
US$43 billion from donors in the coming five years.
To reduce poverty, improve governance, halve the
maternal and infant mortality rate, and improve human
and physical security, the strategy requires $50
billion, of which more than $6 billion will come from
Afghanistan's own resources.
The country has pledges of about $24 billion from
various donors for the coming five years, Baheen said.
"At the Paris conference we will ask donors for an
extra $20 billion aid," he added.
Despite large amounts of aid money dispersed since
2002 - donors have spent about $15 billion on
reconstruction, humanitarian and development efforts -
Afghanistan is among the five least developed
countries in the world. More than half its estimated
26.6 million people live on less than $1 a day,
according to the national human development report.
The strategy identifies three main reasons for poor
development - including weak coordination among donors
and the Afghan government, inadequate aid, and the
underestimation of the challenges facing the country.
Thus, the strategy proposes the "Afghanisation" of
the whole development process, which so far has been
"The [strategy] is a roadmap for the long-desired
objective of 'Afghanisation' and the transition
towards stability, self-sustaining growth, and human
development," states the executive summary.
Matt Waldman, Oxfam's policy and advocacy adviser
in Kabul, said that while the strategy should be
commended for its recognition of the challenges
Afghanistan is facing, and for its attempt to
establish integrated policies, "the question is
whether there is sufficient commitment, capacity and
support for its effective implementation, especially
at the local level.
"Despite an over-emphasis on the potential for
strong private sector-led growth, we broadly endorse
the strategy. But it will need to be supplemented with
further measures and the real challenge will be in its
implementation," he added.
According to Waldman, the scale of funding
requested also raises doubts about absorption
capacity, accountability and transparency in Afghan
No security, no strategy?
More than six years since the fall of the Taliban,
Afghanistan is embroiled in a conflict that has not
only killed thousands of people but hindered
development and humanitarian activities in large
swaths of the country.
While the strategy envisions a developmental and
poverty reduction approach to conflict resolution, its
very implementation hinges on the government's ability
to have reliable access to all parts of the country,
particularly the volatile south and southeast, and
effectively implement projects.
The policy document tacitly concedes the
pre-requisite of security for its implementation: "The
stabilisation of Afghanistan, especially in the south
and southeast, remains a necessary but insufficient
pre-condition for implementation."
Should insecurity and attacks on development actors
remain unchecked, the government will probably delay
development activities in insecure areas but will
implement the strategy in relatively secure northern
and central parts of the country, Baheen said.
"In insecure areas, implementation may be delayed,
but will not be disregarded," he said.
Biggest aid recipients
The strategy also includes six "cross-cutting"
issues (capacity building, gender equity,
counter-narcotics, regional cooperation,
anti-corruption and environment), which will be
mainstreamed into various programmes.
The biggest portion of its proposed $50 billion
budget is earmarked for infrastructural development,
where the government will invest more than $17
Building Afghanistan's security and defence
capacity is the second biggest aid recipient, at $14.2
billion, followed by education and culture with over
$4.8 billion, and agriculture and rural development,
at more than $4.4 billion. Health and nutrition comes
sixth with a budget of about $2.5 billion.
Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), a
project the Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs. IRIN is UN humanitarian news and
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the views of the United Nations or its agencies.