More than five million labour days for the poor in 2010

31 Jan 2010

More than five million labour days for the poor in 2010

KABUL - Taking a labour based approach to the projects it helps manage for donors and the Afghan Government, UNOPS will help its partners create 20,000 thousand jobs for the poor in Afghanistan in 2010.

Dari - Pashto

Ask Afghans what they see as the biggest challenge facing Afghanistan right now and the lack of sustainable livelihoods comes at the top of the list. In a country where 42 percent of the population is estimated to live in poverty this comes as no surprise.

Without income generating activities Afghan households are incapable of improving their situation and building stronger communities, more resistant to economic ups and downs.

As unemployment rates rise across the world, many people are finding it difficult to properly provide for their families. Yet, for far too long this has been the order of the day in Afghanistan, where 39 percent of the population goes hungry.

As a result, creating sustainable livelihoods and employment for the poor is one of the key priorities of both the Afghan Government and the international donor community.

Since 2002, UNOPS and its partners together with the Afghan Government have helped create more than 12 million labour days through the National Rural Access Program (NRAP) alone generating vital income for close to 50,000 families throughout all 34 provinces of Afghanistan.

In addition, through its major focus on infrastructure projects UNOPS has helped improve access for millions of Afghans to basic social services such as health and education as well as to local markets.

During 2010, UNOPS will continue to work with the international donor community and the Afghan Government on development projects which generate employment. Close to 20,000 households and their members will be provided with income generating activities helping at least 80,000 people to better lives.

In Saripul and Samangan provinces alone, UNOPS will support the Swedish Agency for International Development Assistance (SIDA) generate an estimated 250,000 labour days on the continued rehabilitation of roads.

UNOPS will also provide valuable support to the implementation of the Government of Afghanistan’s nationwide road rehabilitation program the National Rural Access Program (NRAP) funded by the World Bank and the Trust Fund for Afghanistan. 2010 will see the generation of an impressive five million labour days for local Afghans all over the country.

And there are many other employment generating infrastructure projects going on in 2010. In Kandahar, UNOPS will work with the Japanese Government; in Bamyan UNOPS will continue to work with the Italian Government; and in Faryab UNOPS will work on road construction with the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The highly successful Afghanistan Conservation Corps program funded by the Government of the United States of America and implemented together with the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, which has generated 400,000 working days for Afghans since 2003, will also continue in 2010 to enhance sustainable livelihoods through its labour based environmental rehabilitation of natural resources.

Creating employment for the Afghan people is a high priority for the international community. Thus, in projects where UNOPS is involved we aim to take a labour based approach where the ratio between heavy machinery and workers provides high levels of employment generation for the local communities while ensuring a high quality of delivered outputs.

Furthermore, in a country with weak local contractors UNOPS and its partners prioritize work with the local communities as they can provide the same (or better) quality of works while creating a greater sense of ownership for the results.

Proper transfer of knowledge and capacity building are keys to sustainable employment. This year, UNOPS will continue to work on the World Bank funded customs modernization project in partnership with the Ministry of Finance on strengthening the capacity of the Afghanistan Customs Department. UNOPS and the Government of Italy will also work with the Afghan National Disaster Management Facility to enhance the country’s capacity to respond to natural disasters in the Western provinces.

In 2010, UNOPS will continue to work hard supporting its partners deliver tangible development results for Afghanistan while focusing on the inclusion of the Afghan people and the further creation of sustainable employment. We will work with the Afghan people to help them rebuild their country.

By Bruce McCarron, UNOPS Country Director

Website: United Nations Office for Project Services