Japan's support for Afghanistan 22 Feb 2003

Assistance Projects Utilizing ODA for Post-conflict Recovery and Highly Appreciated Projects with Visible Results
Second Middle East Division
Ministry of Foreign Affairs

1. Introduction

At the International Conference on Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan, Japan announced that it would provide up to 500 million dollars in assistance over two and a half years and a maximum of 250 million dollars in the first year. Up to now, Japan has committed approximately 358 million dollars in the recovery and reconstruction assistance, which includes approximately 76 million dollars in assistance announced in February. Combining humanitarian aid, the amount of assistance provided since September 2001 has reached approximately 451 million dollars.

On this occasion of President Karzai's visit to Japan and the opening of "The Tokyo Conference on 'Consolidation of Peace (DDR)' in Afghanistan", we would like to report on the content of Japan's assistance to Afghanistan until now, focusing on assistance projects utilizing ODA for post-conflict recovery and highly appreciated projects with visible results.

2. Assistance Projects utilizing ODA for Post-Conflict Recovery

As a result of two decades of war, the economic and social infrastructure and the basic system of governance in Afghanistan have collapsed, and fiscal base has become fragile. Domestic security is being maintained in Kabul by the International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) and the coalition force, but warlords and terrorist groups are still active in the provinces. The Afghan national army and civilian police are still being reconstructed, so the country certainly cannot be described as stable. In order for the effective support for the reconstruction of this post-conflict nation , what is required is not only traditional recovery and reconstruction assistance but comprehensive support based on new ideas, including support for the peace process and domestic security. Determined to address this requirement, Japan has developed assistance measures for the reconstruction of Afghanistan, such as assistance for DDR (disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants), assistance for the administrative expenses of the Transitional Administration, and the rehabilitation project of the highway between Kandahar and Kabul.

(1) Assistance for DDR

Even now, with the peace process under way, there are said to be several hundred thousand combatants in Afghanistan. To promote reconstruction in this post-conflict country, in addition to maintaining domestic security, preventing the reoccurrence of conflict by building an environment in which people do not have to resort to arms again is vital. How to proceed with this effort, however, is not simply a matter of providing employment opportunities to the ex-combatants. In parallel with facilitating the establishment of the new Afghan National Army in order to absorb some ex-combatants, others are to be disarmed and participate in the nation-building process. To put it another way, the Afghan people, with the support of the international community, are creating a new order, in which they are turning "from guns to hoes."

Under the concept of "Consolidation of Peace", announced by Minister for Foreign Affairs, Yoriko Kawaguchi on the eve of her visit to Afghanistan in May last year, Japan, together with the UNAMA, had considered the contents of specific projects and ways of support and, on Feb 19, Japan announced "Partnership for Peace Program", 35 million dollars grant aid that forms the framework for the DDR. The program includes preparation of administrative offices for the demobilization, the training of the office's staff, registration of former soldiers, issuance of identification cards, and vocational training and the creation of employment to promote ex-combatants' reintegration into society. This is the first time for Japan to propose concepts in the field of DDR, and to take leading role in developing and carrying out such a program. Japan's leadership in this effort so far has been supported by the Transitional Administration and other relating countries.

(2) Assistance for the Administrative Expenses of the Transitional Administration

At the Emergency Loya Jirga, a transitional administration was inaugurated with the President Hamid Karzai. Serious problems arose, however, including a shortage of administrative expenses to pay for, among other things, the wages of government officials.

Under its ODA policy, Japan had not implemented assistance to cover administrative expenses, since it could be against the principle of supporting self-help efforts and was difficult for Japan to receive recognition as an implementing country. However, especially after the terrorist attacks in the U.S., the trend that the international community jointly commit the end of conflicts and as the reconstruction assistance support the administrative expenses of a new administration came to be obvious.

Under these circumstances, taking into consideration the support of the international community to the Transitional Administration, its self-help efforts to secure its own fiscal resources, the length of the assistance, and measures taken to ensure transparency, Japan decided to disburse $2.7 million to support the Emergency Loya Jirga and $5 million to cover the administrative expenses of the Transitional Administration. Furthermore, Japan has decided to provide 6 billion yen to enable the Transitional Administration to purchase materials required to implement its National Development Framework. In February, in addition, Japan announced that it would extend assistance for the repayment of areas to the World Bank and the IMF, which has become a condition for the resumption of funding to Afghanistan by the World Bank

(3) Rehabilitation Project of the Highway between Kandahar and Kabul

As a result of many years of war, the economic and social infrastructure in Afghanistan, such as roads, electric power, telecommunications, and water supply, have been destroyed. In the words of President Karzai, it really is starting from zero. From the perspectives of implementing visible assistance and building the foundations for economic activity, the transitional administration has been strongly advocating the importance of road construction from the start.

At the U.N. General Assembly in September last year, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, U.S. President George W. Bush, and Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal jointly issued a statement on the construction of the highway linking Kabul, Kandahar, and Herat. This project needs to be carried out as soon as possible, since it is "visible" assistance from the international community and will provide encouragement to the people of Afghanistan facing severe winter and will help uphold President Karzai's Transitional Administration. By utilizing several ODA schemes, Japan achieved early start of the project within two and a half months of the announcement of the project. As the first step of this large-scale project, Japan has carried out road repair work in the Kandahar area, and from January this year, repair work on streets leading into Kabul. Now a comprehensive survey mission is being dispatched to make preparations, which also include an accurate grasp of the security situation in the region and an adequate consideration of security and safety measures for the road construction workers, for the full-fledged execution of this large-scale, labor-intensive project.

3. Highly Appreciated Projects with Visible Results

(1) Ogata Initiative (Regional Comprehensive Development Assistance Program)

As of 2001, there were 3.5 million refugees in the countries surrounding Afghanistan. Following the end of the war, a large number of refugees, far exceeding the expected number of 1.7 million persons, have returned to their country. Meanwhile, as a result of the impact of ethnic conflicts and drought, there were said to be more than one million internally displaced persons. In order to make these people members of a new process of nation building, the ensuring of means of livelihood is necessary. In particular, the extension of regional support and establishment of an environment to accept large numbers of refugees and displaced persons are urgent issues.

Following her inspection of the actual conditions of refugees and displaced persons on the occasion of her two visits to Afghanistan, Sadako Ogata, the prime minister's special representative, has offered suggestions and proposals for the direction of Japan's assistance for Afghanistan. To materialize her suggestions, Japan is implementing regional comprehensive development assistance called "Ogata Initiative". The aims of the program are to search for forms of comprehensive development that lead to regional reconstruction, provide a seamless transition from humanitarian assistance to recovery and reconstruction assistance, and achieve these targets as quickly as possible. Furthermore, not only for regional recovery and reconstruction, the program aims to strengthen the capacity of the transitional administration, bolster links between the central government and regional authorities, and promote the independence of communities. Three regions have been selected to receive priority assistance under this program - those regions centering on the regional cities of Kandahar in the south, Jalalabad in the east, and Mazar-i-Sharif in the north.

As the first phase, the program puts the spotlight on resettlement assistance for refugees and displaced persons. Through U.N. and other organizations, it is, among other things, supplying equipment and materials for temporary housing, improving water-supply systems, rebuilding agriculture, distributing educational materials for children and teachers, and supplying temporary educational facilities. Through NGOs, it is, among other things, extending assistance for the redevelopment of communities. It is estimated that about 1.5 million people will benefit from this program, which has been steadily implemented since its announcement in July last year.

As a pillar of the assistance package in October last year, Japan announced the Ogata Initiative Phase 2, a program to provide regional comprehensive development assistance on an even larger scale. It is estimated that 3 million people will benefit from this Phase 2, which includes emergency income-creation projects, distribution of food as payment for labor, construction of basic infrastructure, protection of mother-child health, the strengthening of educational implementation capacity, and anti-landmine projects in the three priority regions. Through linkage between this program and such projects as the Kabul - Kandahar primary road construction project described above, and bilateral assistance from Japan through JICA, Japan hopes that its program will become a model case of comprehensive regional development.

(2) De-mining

The problem of landmines in Afghanistan is serious. There are said to be 150 - 300 victims a month. The eradication of landmines is important not only from the humanitarian perspective of the daily lives of people and the return of refugees and displaced persons but also as a premise for Afghanistan's reconstruction and development. Japan sees de-mining as a major pillar of its support and is the largest contributing country of U.N. projects in this field.

In January last year, as part of activities to support Afghan refugees, Japan supported the replacement of the landmine removal equipment (trucks, four-wheel-drive vehicles, landmine detectors, etc.) that had been destroyed or plundered. In addition, support was provided to the landmine removal activities of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance to Afghanistan (UNOCHA) and for the supply of artificial limbs and landmine enlightenment activities by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

As part of the Ogata Initiative Phase 2 mentioned above, Japan announced the implementation, together with U.N. organizations and NGOs, of landmine enlightenment activities to prevent the occurrence of new landmine victims (future prevention), landmine removal activities (present response), and the reconstruction and establishment of rehabilitation centers to support landmine victims (past recovery).

(3) Media Support

The construction of media infrastructure in Afghanistan is being implemented over the long term as a priority support measure by Japan. Television broadcasting has been resumed at a TV broadcasting station built in the 1970s with Japanese official development assistance, and technicians who have received guidance from experts of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) are playing important roles in the station.

Japan also supplied technical support and equipment for satellite broadcasting of the Emergency Loya Jirga throughout Afghanistan. It was highly evaluated that this conference which had strong influence on the future of the peace process had been watched broadly by the Afghan people. Furthermore, Japan is inviting technicians as JICA trainees so that they can study the latest broadcasting technology and program production technology. Also, with the objective of supplying necessary information on such topics as education and enlightenment, health and hygiene, and democratization to the Afghan people, Japan has extended assistance for the improvement of studio program production equipment at the Kabul TV broadcasting station.