More than 60 countries and 20 international organizations took part in the Afghanistan Recovery and Reconstruction Conference co-chaired by Japan, the United States, Saudi Arabia and the European Union. The event was also attended by Mr. Hamid Karzai, Chairman of the Afghan Interim Authority (AIA) and other representatives of the authority.
"This is an unprecedented historical moment for Afghanistan," said Torek Farhadi, economic and reconstruction advisor to the AIA. "The ball is now in our court. We have to prove that we have a plan and that the money is going where it is intended."
UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown said that the establishment of order and security in Afghanistan must be the first priority of the reconstruction effort. He also stressed the importance of meeting the government payroll to build the new administration, and urged that spending on long-term infrastructure be matched by funds for smaller projects to provide immediate and tangible help to Afghans.
Christopher Patten, Commissioner for External Relations of the European Community, said that the sums pledged were impressive. He urged that speed and coordination were important now, and that the Afghanistan Interim Authority "should be in the driver's seat". He reiterated the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's statement on opening day of the conference that "we should be in this for the long haul."
The Afghanistan Interim Authority identified key priority areas for the reconstruction of the country. They included enhancement of administrative capacity; education, especially for girls; health and sanitation; infrastructure; reconstruction and agriculture. Along with these priorities, the Authority stressed its commitment to transparency and accountability.
The conference welcomed the preliminary needs assessment prepared by UNDP, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. Further work on a more comprehensive needs assessment is planned to take place in Afghanistan in the coming weeks.
Participants backed the usefulness of a common assistance databank to facilitate the implementation of international assistance. Existing mechanisms will be the main vehicle for major donors in financing reconstruction. In addition, a single trust fund will be created. Decisions about allocation of expenditures will be the responsibility of UNDP, the World Bank and ADB.
The conference noted a UNDP proposal for a Code of Conduct to avoid distortions in wages and rent inflation caused by the international presence, and urged further work on the proposal.
Donor Pledges for Afghanistan
The following is a list of major donors and their pledges made on the first day of the two-day conference.
- Japan: $500 million over 30 months
- United States: $296 million in this fiscal year
- European Union: $500 million this year (including $180 million from the European Commission)
- Saudi Arabia: $220 million over a three-year period
- World Bank: $500 million over 30 months
- Iran: $560 million over five years
- India: $100 million
- United Arab Emirates: $36 million
- Turkey: $5 million over a five-year period
- Norway: $40 million for one year
- Switzerland: $18.10 million over two years from 2002
- Australia: $17 million for an unspecified time
- Pakistan: $100 million over five years
For further information go to http://www.undp.org