- Frontier Post
- © Copyright The Frontier Post
KABUL (PAN): The Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) Management Committee has approved a $90 million grant for the Afghan governments flagship initiative called the National Solidarity Programme (NSP). $60 million of the grant will be made available immediately while the remaining $30 million will be disbursed in coming months for NSP - one of the five rural development initiatives that form the backbone of the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD). This additional commitment drives up the total ARTF contribution to the NSP since the programmes inception in 2003 to $259.5 million, the Fund said. NSP is also co-financed by the World Bank with a current five-year commitment of $305 million. In a statement on Thursday, the ARTF said the National Solidarity Programme was giving direct voice and decision-making power to the countrys estimated 19 million rural inhabitants. In only four short years, it added, NSP had benefited close to 15.6 million Afghans or 80% of the rural population. NSP has made great achievements for the people of Afghanistan despite the numerous challenges we have faced including security constraints and inaccessibility to villages, said Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development Muhammad Ehsan Zia. He added the government was committed to expanding the programme throughout rural Afghanistan. However, he observed, no progress was possible unless the international community was committed to staying the course. Designed to link villagers at a grassroots level with government representatives at the district, provincial and capital levels, NSP has this innovative aspect: The process of decision-making for the use of grants. Through the creation and election of Community Development Councils (CDCs), communities directly manage resources to identify, plan, manage and monitor their own development projects. Villages are also required to contribute a minimum of 10 percent of the project costs. The National Solidarity Programme has brought a grassroots sense of citizenship and makes villagers think about their values and goals. With resources from the programme, the communities are rebuilding the country from the villages up, said Susanne Holste, World Bank Project Team Leader for National Solidarity Programme (NSP). Communities use the resources in a consultative, responsible and transparent manner, and make money go a long way. Since 2002, communities have elected 17,349 Community Development Councils. National Solidarity Programme (NSP) has also financed over 23,056 community projects of which more than 11,017 projects have been completed. Around 88 percent of the projects involve infrastructure such as irrigation, rural roads, electrification, and drinking water supply, critical for the recovery of the rural economy, stability and governance.