Afghanistan National Solidarity Program

Afghanistan National Solidarity Program

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Problems and Purpose

After the fall of the Taliban, the Government of Afghanistan, with funding from the World Bank, started the National Solidarity Program (NSP) in 2003 in an effort to extend the reach of government services, spur development, foster participation in civil society. The NSP’s goal was to create gender-equal neighborhood-level community development corporations (CDCs) to allow for the participation of local communities in the development of the country’s infrastructure, thereby fostering local accountability and ownership of development process.  It was hoped that these and similar measures would help strengthen Afghanistan’s historically weak civil institutions. 

According to the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation & Development (MRRD) website, the primary goals of the program were: 

  • “Establishing a national network of Community Development Councils(CDCs) that empower communities to make decisions;
  • Funding priority subprojects that improve access to infrastructure, markets, and services;
  • Strengthening community capacities through participatory processes and training; and
  • Promoting accountability and wise use of public and private resources.”[1]

An additional goal is equal gender participation in the leadership structures of the CDCs. CDCs, in other words, were meant to be avenues for the community to decide on areas of community investment on level footing.  Participation was encouraged through empowering residents with decision-making.

Six different categories of projects are noted: transport, water and sanitation, irrigation, power, literacy and vocational training, and other.[2]

Background History and Context

After coalitional forces led by the United States ousted the Taliban from power in 2001, the newly formed Afghanistan Transitional Administration sought ways to extend the reach of government services and engage Afghan citizens at the local level.  In June 2002, NSP was launched with five other programs, together known as the National Priority Programs.[3]  (Other programs included the National Emergency Employment Program and the National Transportation Program.[4])

In part, the National Solidary Program (NSP)’s design springs out of a demographic and historical context specific to Afghanistan. As a result of a legacy of tribal regionalism and cycles of conflict with colonizing nations, the country has never developed a substantial centralized civil administration.[5]  Furthermore, eighty percent of Afghanistan’s population lives in rural areas making the development of physical infrastructure particularly cumbersome.[6]  In the place of formal governance, a network of participatory councils, the local jirga or shura, developed.  These bodies, usually headed by a village’s elder males, resolved local disputes and, when necessary, served as a liaison with the central government.[7]  By creating CDCs, the NSP essentially formalized these councils within the central government’s regulatory framework. 

Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities

Funding for this program was provided by the World Bank and a consortium of bilateral donors, such as the governments of Denmark, Japan, and Spain to name a few. The program’s implementation meanwhile was overseen by the Facilitating Partners—a group of eight national and 21 international NGOs.  The Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation & Development has oversight of the project within the Afghani Government.

After local elections to create a leadership structure, the CDCs received funding in the form of block grants from the NSP —amounting to $200 USD per family—to finance local infrastructure projects. Since 2003, the NSP has gone through funding phases, and it is presently in its third phase. Development and organizational goals, such as the amount of communities with greater infrastructure access and percentage of elections conducted by the established standards, have generally been met throughout.

As of 2016, NSP has gone through two funding rounds, and the third round is set to finish in 2017.  The first funding period lasted from 2003 to 2007.  During this time, partnering NGOs contacted locals in over 10,000 selected villages to inform them of the project and begin mobilizing resources.  By June 2005, $100 million had been distributed in the form of community block grants.[10]  These grants are distributed based on $200 per family up to $60,000 with an average of $35,000 and are contingent upon a 10% contribution by the community[11]  The funds pay for projects that generally fall into six categories: transport, water and sanitation, irrigation, power, literacy and vocational training, and other.[12]

In the second funding phase, from 2007 to 2011, the program continued to grow.  By March 2009, over 21,800 CDCs had been established.  The program also dispersed $593 million in that year.[13]  The second funding phase also initiated the Impact Evaluation program, a randomized sample of CDC projects to measure outcomes.[14]

Between mid-2003 and early 2013, over 64,000 projects were funded by NSP, at a combined cost of US$1.01 billion. [15]

Participant Recruitment and Selection

During NSP III, a community identification process was undertaken, in collaboration with district governors, to specify which areas can be labeled a “community” by the NSP—i.e., the area has at least 25 families.[16] Smaller villages are able to join together with neighbors.[17]

The Facilitating Partners then contact villages to begin Community Mobilization. 

The mobilization process is laid out in the NSP III Operations Manual:

Four meetings are held with villagers. The first details the NSP’s goals and time, specifically having to do with community development, the role of women, and the need for continued community engagement.  During the second meeting, the Partners outline the available processes for CDC elections and, at the end, the attendees select a gender-balanced committee to oversee the election.

At the third meeting, the election committee facilitates the community’s participation to determine where the vote will take place, the number of CDC board member positions, and the criteria for voter eligibility.

There are two models for the CDC:

  1. A single body comprised of an equal number of men and women
  2. Two equally numbered subcommittees, one for each gender, that meet separately

The election is then held and the results are reported by the following day.

The fourth meeting is then held, led by the facilitating partners, to introduce the CDC board members to the community in their new roles.[18]

Due to the number of villages, up until the third funding phase, CDCs have only been able to receive funding from the NPS once. However, there are now around 12,000 that initially participated that are now repeating. [19]

Methods and Tools Used

The National Solidary Program (NSP)’s design is largely reflective of the country's demography and history. Tribal regionalism and cycles of conflict with colonizing nations has hindered the development of a centralized civil administration[5] and, instead, governance is largely affected through a network of participatory councils, the local jirga or shura.  These bodies, usually headed by a village’s elder males, resolved local disputes and, when necessary, served as a liaison with the central government.[7]  The establishment of Community Development Councils (CDCs) under the NSP essentially formalized these councils within the central government’s regulatory framework. 

In order to ensure greater economic and social mobility for all Afghanis, the NSP has required democratic elections and mandated that women hold an equal amount of leadership positions and receive an equal part of the funding’s benefits.[9]

Funding through NSP has gone through two rounds so far during which time partnering NGOs contact locals in over 10,000 selected villages to inform them of the project and begin mobilizing resources. Grants are distributed based on $200 per family up to $60,000 with an average of $35,000 and are contingent upon a 10% contribution by the community[11]  

Deliberation, Decisions, and Public Interaction

Interactions between NSP facilitators and villages take approximately three years. The process can be roughly broken down as follows:

  1. CDC elections usually takes six months;
  2. CDCs and villagers design projects, submit proposals, receive funds for an average of twelve months elapse before project implementation starts
  3. The CDC works with the facilitating partners to map community development needs.[20]
  4. Construction lasts an average of nine months.[21]

Beyond being democratically elected, a large part of the NSP programme revolved around the role of women in society. Historically, female mobility had been hindered by customs that made a woman, when traveling outside her village, have to be accompanied by a male relative.[8]  Therefore, the effect of mandating both that women hold an equal amount of leadership positions in the CDC and that they receive an equal part of the funding’s benefits was to ensure greater economic and social mobility for all Afghanis.[9]

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

The NSP has had lasting effects of the country’s infrastructure and development.  Its goals of state-building and altering social norms have not been as successful.[22]

The World Bank reports that:

  • 80% of communities sampled have greater access to infrastructure.
  • 93% of infrastructure subprojects sampled have been completed and are used by communities within a year.
  • 1,874 classrooms have been built or renovated
  • 11,116 KM of roads have been constructed
  • 4,214,782 people have access to Improved Water Sources
  • 78% of CDCs have completed at least one subproject.
  • 97% of elections have been conducted to the standards of the program and 99% of CDCs have been secondarily trained.
  • 19% of the communities have conducted social audit meetings, with a goal of 70%
  • There have been 2,227 grievances received, of which 2,002 have been solved.
  • In total, 19,742 Community Participation Monitoring teams have been established, out of which 92% (18,066) of them are functioning and monitor their sub projects.
  • 48% of beneficiaries are female, with a target of 50%
  • Of woman sampled, 78% are taking active part in decision making[23]

Analysis and Lessons Learned

Development and organizational goals, such as the amount of communities with greater infrastructure access and percentage of elections conducted by the established standards, were generally met throughout the project. However, participation in the process and ongoing community development has been minimal as few residents outside of the CDC board get involved in the development process despite program design that encourages this.

Often a CDC’s creation had vastly different implications for different groups of people.  Creating a cohesive narrative for the CDCs and defining their role in the community is an ongoing challenge for the NPS and its funding agencies.[24]

CDCs cannot effectively be held accountable for the misuse of funds.  These bodies become self-serving and ruled by militias as a result.  Work that is completed is often done by family members.  In Tagab, for instance, a dyke built with NSP funds was so poorly constructed that it lasted less than a year.[25]

In other words, it is clear that funding groups to create infrastructure projects is a practical plan to spur development and social change.  However, because CDCs were often not able to bypass villages’ entrenched political leadership structures and the negative image of government those groups convey, the creation of new institutions, despite their effectiveness, did not changes perceived belief in governmental institutions.  As a result, participation in those projects lagged.[26]

 

See Also

Community Organizing

Community Development Associations

References

[1] “NSP - Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development.” Accessed December 19, 2016. http://mrrd.gov.af/en/page/69/215.

[2] Andrew Beath, Fontini Christia, and Ruben Enikolopov. “The National Solidarity Program: Assessing the Effects of Community-Driven Development in Afghanistan.” World Bank Group: Office of the Chief Economist Policy Research Working Paper, no. 7415 (September 2015), 3.

[3] Jennifer Brick. “Final Report: Investigating the Sustainability of Community Development Councils in Afghanistan.” Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit Unpublished (February 2008), 1.

[4] Ghani, Ashraf, and Clare Lockhard. Fixing Failed States: A Framework for Rebuilding a Fractured World. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2008, 206.

[5] “WORLD BANK: Afghanistan’s: World Bank Increases Support for National Solidarity Program.” M2 Presswire, December 24, 2003.

[6] Beath, “The National Solidarity Program” (2015), 4.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] The World Bank. “Projects : National Solidarity Program III.” Accessed December 19, 2016. http://projects.worldbank.org/P117103/national-solidarity-program-iii?la....

[10] “National Solidarity Programme: For the People, By the People, With the People.” Accessed December 21, 2016. http://www.nspafghanistan.org/index.aspx.

[11] Andrew Beath, Fontini Christia, and Ruben Enikolopov. “Randomized Impact Evaluation of Afghanistan’s National Solidarity Programme,” July 1, 2013, 3.

[12] Beath, “The National Solidarity Program” (2015), 3.

[13] “National Solidarity Programme,” Accessed December 21, 2016.

[14] Beath, “Randomized Impact Evaluation” (2013), 7.

[15] Beath, “The National Solidarity Program” (2015), 3.

[16] “Operation Manual Version VI,” Afghanistan Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (May 2012), 6.

[17] Beath, “Randomized Impact Evaluation” (2013), 2.

[18] “Operation Manual Version VI,” 16-18.

[19] Beath, “Randomized Impact Evaluation” (2013), 2.

[20] “Operation Manual Version VI,” 16-18

[21] Beath, “Randomized Impact Evaluation” (2013), 2

[22] Beath, “The National Solidarity Program” (2015), 10.

[23] The World Bank. “Projects : National Solidarity Program III.”

[24] Brick, “Final Report.” (2008).

[25] “Afghanistan: Local Reconstruction Effort Goes Awry.” Institute for War and Peace Reporting. Accessed January 25, 2017. https://iwpr.net/global-voices/afghanistan-local-reconstruction-effort-g....

[26] Beath, “The National Solidarity Program” (2015), 10.

External Links

Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund. “National Solidarity Program III | Rural Development | Active Portfolio Investment Projects | Portfolio |.” Accessed December 19, 2016. http://www.artf.af/portfolio/active-portfolio-investment-projects/rural-....

“National Solidarity Programme: For the People, By the People, With the People.” Accessed December 21, 2016. http://www.nspafghanistan.org/index.aspx.

“NSP - Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development.” Accessed December 19, 2016. http://mrrd.gov.af/en/page/69/215.

The World Bank. “Projects : National Solidarity Program III.” Accessed December 19, 2016. http://projects.worldbank.org/P117103/national-solidarity-program-iii?la....

Notes

Lead image: "A woman in rural Afghanistan answers questions about the effects of the country's National Solidarity Program." Fotini Christia, MIT News https://goo.gl/2skMvX

Falldaten

Standort

Geolocation: 
Afghanistan
Afghanistan
AF
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Verlauf

Anfangsdaten: 
Freitag, Mai 31, 2002
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Andauernd: 
Ja
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Prozess

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Ja
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In Person
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Organisatoren

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World Bank
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National Governments
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The World Bank

Ressourcen

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US$1 010 000 000.00
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