Afghanistan in Transition : Looking beyond 2014
Afghanistan will experience a major security and development transition over the next three years. At the Kabul and Lisbon Conferences in 2010, the North Atlantic treaty organization and the Afghan government agreed that full responsibility for security would be handed over to the Afghan National Security Forces by the end of 2014. The country now faces the prospects of a drawdown of most international military forces over the coming several years, and an expected accompanying decline in civilian aid as international attention shifts elsewhere and aid budgets in many organization for economic cooperation and development countries come under increasing fiscal pressure. The decline in external assistance will have widespread ramifications for Afghanistan's political and economic landscape well beyond 2014. Ensuring the delivery of services to the Afghan people requires delegating more responsibilities to the provincial level. Only a tiny fraction of the Operation and Maintenance (O&M) budget gets outside the line ministries in Kabul. An important priority moving forward will be enhancing the capacity of provincial offices to participate in budget formulation and key spending ministries to execute their budgets subnationally. Without this, the government may find absorbing a greater proportion of aid on budget and delivering results to its people difficult.