Afghanistan: Rebuilding Our Nation: Six National Priority Sub-Programmes

Originally published


President's Statement
There is a consensus in Afghan society: violence as a means of compelling the majority to submit to the will of a few isolated individuals must end. National reconciliation and respect for fundamental human rights will form the path to lasting peace and stability across the country. The people's aspirations must be represented in an accountable, broad-based, gender-sensitive, multi-ethnic, representative government that delivers daily value. This consensus forms the foundation for a vision of a prosperous and secure Afghanistan.

We have set out our vision for Afghanistan's future in our National Development Framework (NDF), articulated our priorities through 12 national programmes, and laid down broad strategies in each programme area. The NDF underpins our National Development Budget, where programmes are costed, specific projects presented, and hard choices made. We are working closely with donors to ensure your support reinforces our priorities.

Our developmental strategy has three pillars:

  • The first pillar is to use humanitarian assistance and social policy both to create the conditions for people to live secure lives and to lay the foundations for the formation of sustainable human capital.

  • The second pillar is the use of external assistance to build the physical infrastructure of the country and to develop its natural resources in a way that lays the basis for a private sector-led strategy of sustainable growth.

  • The third pillar is the development of a competitive private sector, which becomes both the engine of growth and the instrument of social inclusion through the creation of opportunity.

  • Cutting across all our activities are issues such as gender equity, security and rule of law, and administrative and financial reform.
The state has a clear set of responsibilities: It must provide security, invest in human capital, and articulate and implement a social policy focused on assistance to the vulnerable and the elimination of poverty. It must create an enabling environment for the activities of the private sector, make effective use of aid to attract trade and investment, and put the economy on a sustainable path to growth. We do not envisage our government as the inflated producer and manager of the economy, but rather as the lean, efficient, accountable regulator and promoter of the entrepreneurial energies of our people.

Our children - girls and boys - need education, our sick need access to medicine, and our people need jobs; we will train the teachers and open the schools, we will repair the hospitals and restock their supplies, and we will enable the private sector's enterprises. We thus need an effective central government that further consolidates national unity on the basis of strong institutions and rule of law. Simultaneously, we support community level participation and effective management of development at the local level. There is much difficult work to be done by every Afghan-and many obstacles to overcome _ but our people deserve nothing less than our finest effort.

We deeply appreciate our close partnerships with communities, NGOs, donors, UN agencies, ISAF and the national and international private sector to realise our shared vision with the Government in the driver's seat. As the legitimate representative of the Afghan people, it is our key task to create the lasting institutions and organisations that will embody principles and practices of good governance.


The presentation of the National Priority six sub-Programmes outlined in this booklet represents a key milestone in the design and implementation of the Government's social and economic reconstruction agenda. The sub-Programmes are an interim step between the vision first outlined by the Government at Tokyo and a fully integrated development and operating budget scheduled for presentation to the donor community at the Consultative Group Meeting in March 2003. The needs of the communities and the aspirations of the ordinary Afghan women and men are so high that it is neither feasible nor desirable to wait for a fully articulated work programme before directing resources to obvious priority areas.

At the Tokyo Conference the new Government of Afghanistan outlined its vision for a prosperous, secure Afghanistan; a nation built on a credible State with a transparent and accountable administration, a well-developed civil society with democratic institutions supporting and being supported by the rule of law. In this environment an effective and competitive private sector will flourish allowing the people of Afghanistan to realize the potential of their own natural and human resources.

Following extensive consultation among Government Ministers and senior officials, the National Development Framework (NDF) was produced. The NDF articulated a strategy to develop this vision and it was presented to the international community at the first Implementation Group Meeting in April 2002. Drawing on international best practices and building on half a century of development experience, the NDF presented a programmatic approach to policy making and resource allocation through twelve national programmes:

1 Refugee Return;

2 Education;

3 Health & Nutrition;

4 Livelihoods;

5 Culture;

6 Transport;

7 Urban Management;

8 Energy, Mining & Telecommunications;

9 Natural Resource Management;

10 Trade & Private Investment;

11 Public Administration;

12 Security & Rule of Law.

Key issues such as gender, environment and humanitarian aid were presented both as cross-cutting issues, but also mainstreamed in the programmes.

The National Development Budget (NDB) is the elaboration of the NDF into a series of detailed programmes and the specific projects within each programme. Following a further round of consultations between the Government and its development partners, a working draft of the NDB was presented at the second Implementation Group meeting in October. A full NDB, integrated with an operating budget to cover the recurrent expenditure will be prepared for March 2003 to March 2004 and will be presented to donors for consideration at the first full Consultative Group meeting in March 2003.

Each programme in the NDB will be prepared through a consultative process with the key Ministry leading a local group process involving both donors and international agencies. For the first time in Afghan history the resourcing decisions presented in the budget will be informed by a series of provincial level consultations. Four special advisory groups have been set up in the areas of humanitarian assistance, human rights, gender and environment to ensure that crosscutting issues are addressed. They will function as task forces to interact with the relevant ministries and other stakeholders to recommend mechanisms to ensure these issues are mainstreamed within the budget, project design and other Government activities.

Accompanying the integrated development and operating budget in March, will be a series of self imposed Government benchmarks. These benchmarks will outline the timetable for the Government's reform agenda and will complement the expenditure plans presented in the budget. Lessons from the experiences of international assistance show that assistance is most effective when the development agenda is domestically owned. Conditionalities work better when they are domestically owned. The host country will strive to go beyond its reform agenda, rather than seeking to do just enough to satisfy those who imposed the condi-tionalities. The Government will prepare a set of benchmarks in five domains of reform-administrative, financial, judicial, security and socioeconomic _ which it will present to the donors and seek their feedback and inputs in January and February. As an interim measure, pending the finalization of the NDB, six priority projects were extracted from the Working Draft and agreed upon by the Government as representing the nation's highest priorities for donor funding. The Government recognized that the needs are too urgent and the aspirations of the community too high to allow a delay of an additional five months before implementation commenced. Rather, the national projects are needed now to increase the delivery of tangible results to the ordinary Afghan women and men. Further delays will reduce the people's faith in both the Government and the international community, and undermine the legitimacy of the Government.

The key criteria in determining the priority of the programmes were:

  • truly national in scope - to ensure that donor funds were distributed evenly across the population ensuring that there could be no allegations of ethnic or regional bias;

  • a clear priority as identified in the Working Draft, would be maintained even once the NDB was completed; and

  • easily and quickly implementable - often after a feasibility study that could be also quickly undertaken, or involving the upscaling of an existing project.
The Government has adopted, through the Economic Coordination Committee, a decision to direct additional resources to those provinces which are most vulnerable and do not have large numbers of NGOs implementing bilateral-financed programmes, or internal resources flowing from customs. These include all those provinces which do not include major cities. Consultations will be held with these needier provinces to select projects from within the six national priority sub-programmes for speedy implementation.

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