24 Provinces Participate in UNDP-Supported Strategic Planning Initiative

Kabul, 02 April — In a move that links a majority of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces to the framework of strategic development planning, the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) has rolled out a three-day training workshop that will further consolidate the way forward for a harmonized, single planning system for the Government of Afghanistan. The initiative, supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will help IDLG in rolling out Provincial Strategic Plans (PSPs) in ten provinces during 2013.

The Provincial Strategic Plan (PSP), linking available budgets with people-centred needs, was first piloted in Herat and Balk provinces in 2010, followed by Bamyan, Laghman and Nangarhar. The PSPs of these five provinces have been approved by the respective Governors and endorsed by IDLG. They are expected to streamline and improve the quality of annual provincial planning and budgeting, which is presented in the form of Provincial Development Plan (PDP).

Opening the Workshop, attended by over 40 government representatives from 24 provinces across Afghanistan that are being initiated into PSP process, the Deputy Minister for Local Governance to the Government of Afghanistan, Mr. Farid Mamundzai said, ““There have been so many plans developed in the past but they often do not reflect the true needs of people. IDLG, along with the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development and the Ministry of Finance, are committed to bringing more cohesion and accountability mechanisms to the current systems. Provincial strategic planning is setting out a vision and framework for subnational development.”

Echoing the Minister, Mr. Farid Popalzai, Director of ANDS Evaluation of Ministry of Economy, said, “Plans are often prepared from thin air and end up on shelves. We should move beyond this practice and link the provincial planning with budgeting.”

The workshop will build upon lessons learnt and best practices achieved from 7 existing PSPs based on national priorities and targets in governance, socio-economic development and security sectors articulated in the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS).

Speaking to the PSP specialists gathered from the provinces, Mr. Chris Carter, Chief Technical Advisor of the Afghanistan Subnational Governance Programme II (ASGP) of UNDP, said, “Provincial plans should be developed by Afghans and for Afghans. Your energy and intelligence will be the driving force for preparing sensible and realistic plans reflecting the wishes and aspirations of Afghan people.”

Led by the Provincial Governor’s Office (PGO) with the technical assistance of IDLG and Afghanistan Subnational Governance Programme (ASGP) of UNDP, the provincial strategic planning supports and respects local ownership and stakeholder engagement.

The concept and methodology of five-year provincial strategic planning was developed by the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) in 2009 with a view to guiding the provinces to develop a holistic strategic vision based on situation assessment and in light of the national priorities and targets in governance, socio-economic development and security sectors articulated in the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS).

The three-day event provides a timely opportunity for the participants and officials of IDLG and Ministry of Economy, which is in charge of overseeing the PDPs, to review the subnational planning procedures and practices and to help generate a preliminary consensus on the way forward in realizing the vision of a harmonized, single planning system at the sub-national level in Afghanistan.