Community leaders debate accountability, transparency in Kunar governance

25 Jul 2017

Community leaders debate accountability, transparency in Kunar governance

ASADABAD - To strengthen government services, accountability and transparency must be improved, said panellists at a UN-backed debate in the mostly rural and mountainous province of Kunar.

The lively two-hour discussion by government officials, civil society representatives and other community leaders in Asadabad, Kunar’s capital, focused on ways to improve government services through ensuring effective coordination with local communities.

The programme was facilitated by the Jalalabad regional office of UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and was broadcast on TV and radio in Kunar to an audience estimated at several hundred thousand people in and around the provincial capital.

Audience participants, including women, expressed their opinions and asked the panellists questions. Many of those who spoke during the debate, which was recorded and edited prior to broadcast, stressed the importance of improving government services as a way to enhance the eastern region’s security and stability in the interest of moving toward peace.

Provincial Council member Haji Jamal-u-din Sayar opened the discussion by talking about the capacity of local government improving. “Several development projects have been successfully implemented, and we are satisfied with the support of the central government,” he said, but pointed out that much work remains to be done, including the construction of a hydroelectric power station to provide the province with electricity.

Suhaila Babor, director of Kunar’s Department of Women’s Affairs, described how the government and international partners have created a new vocational centre that has already trained thousands of women in computer skills so they can be gainfully employed in the province. “We are very happy with the support,” she said.

During the discussion, government officials, civil society representatives and other community leaders agreed to work together more closely to ensure better coordination for future provincial development.

Kunar is part of Afghanistan’s eastern region, which runs up against a rugged border with Pakistan. In Kunar, and in other provinces across Afghanistan, UNAMA has been working with government officials and civil society groups to create platforms using radio, television and social media for Afghans to engage in dialogue and discuss key issues affecting their communities.

UNAMA is mandated to support the Afghan Government and the people of Afghanistan as a political mission that provides 'good offices' among other key services. 'Good offices' are diplomatic steps UN takes publicly and in private, drawing on its independence, impartiality and integrity, to prevent international disputes from arising, escalating or spreading.

UNAMA also promotes coherent development support by the international community; assists the process of peace and reconciliation; monitors and promotes human rights and the protection of civilians in armed conflict; promotes good governance; and encourages regional cooperation.