Government and donors must build on coordination efforts to boost progress
KABUL - Improved coordination between the Government of Afghanistan and the international community is boosting development efforts across Afghanistan, says a senior United Nations official in Kabul, Afghanistan.
“When donors and the Government work together, the impact is much greater,” said Mark Ward, special adviser on development to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General at a press conference in Kabul today.
Aid coordination is an important part of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) mandate in Afghanistan.
“But really it is the Government of Afghanistan that is in the best position to coordinate the donors,” said Ward, adding “not by telling the donors they should be better coordinated but by designing good programmes for the donors to fund.”
The donor community spent 70 per cent of their assistance outside of Government budgets, channelling only 30 per cent through the government – despite limited funding Government programs have shown that they can deliver for the Afghan people, particularly in health and education.
“At the JCMB last April, the [agriculture] Minister presented five priority programmes and asked the donor community to support them with funding. The donors liked the priorities and the Ministry is now receiving funding for them … this is real progress behind strong Government leadership,” said Ward.
The Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB) is a joint mechanism overseeing the implementation of Afghanistan’s National Development Strategy which is a Government medium-term development framework that sets the social, economic, governance and security agendas for Afghanistan over the next five years.
Afghanistan has come a long way since the fall of the Taliban in 2001 when the country was devastated by decades of civil war and the harsh rule of the Taliban.
More than six million children are now studying at schools compared to one million in 2001 and 85 per cent of the population now has access to basic package of health services.
“It is no coincidence that these two sectors [education and health] have had the greatest impact to date,” said Ward. This “would not have happened without strong Government leadership and donor support behind them.”
“UNAMA and the Government cannot do the coordination alone,” said Ward, noting that “we need the donors generous support. But we also need them to change some of their approaches.”
The Special Advisor on development to SRSG Kai Eide also called on the donor community to get behind the Government’s priority plans and to be flexible with funding so urgent new requirements are met.
Ward said there are six ministries that are functioning fully effectively today in Afghanistan.
“I would like to see that number doubled in two years time when we will have a dozen ministries who are capable of designing good programmes and who are able to tell the donors – stop following your priorities – start following up our priorities.” concluded Ward.
By Homayon Khoram (UNAMA)