Afghanistan

World Bank provides supplemental grant for Afghanistan's National Solidarity Program

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WASHINGTON, June 30, 2005 - The World Bank today approved a US$28 million grant to continue supporting the Afghanistan National Solidarity Program (NSP), which provides resources for reconstruction and development activities at the community level, and for strengthened local governance. The NSP was launched in 2002 and has already received US$117 million grant in World Bank's International Development Association (IDA) support in addition to US$42 million grant from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) and US$11 million grant from Japanese Social Development Trust Fund (JSDF). The program, which is financed by several sources, is under implementation in 159 districts in 33 of the country's 34 provinces.
The NSP provides thousands of rural villages with access to drinking water, small irrigation schemes for agriculture, rural roads, micro hydro-electrical plants and generators for domestic and rural productive activities, training and livelihood projects, schools, sanitation, and clinics among others.

Decades of conflict have resulted in extensive destruction of infrastructure and massive population displacements in Afghanistan, eroding the human, social, and physical capital. A severe drought lasting from 1999 to 2002 further increased rural poverty. The National Solidarity Program provides technical assistance and assigns grants to the rural communities for reconstruction and/or development projects that are planned and managed by the communities themselves through a democratic process.

A critical aspect of this project is the process of decision making surrounding the use of the grants. Building the foundation for solid local governance, consultation, and the legitimacy of local leadership, Community Development Councils are elected through secret ballot. These councils then lead a participatory process in the community to decide how the funds will be used. By May 2005, implementation of the project was ongoing in 8,268 villages, of which 7,348 had elected Community Development Councils, and 9,247 had submitted subproject proposals.

"The National Solidarity Program has demonstrated that, despite a volatile security situation in much of the rural areas, it is possible to launch a large-scale project across the country," said Norman Piccioni, World Bank Lead Rural Development Specialist, "More importantly, it shows that rapid and measurable impact can be achieved while enhancing the longer-term process of building local governance."

The project has enhanced government effectiveness by supporting the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development and by developing capacity to set standards and procedures for financial management, disbursement, and implementation of community projects.

For more information on the World Bank's activities in Afghanistan, please visit: http://www.worldbank.org/af

For more information on the NSP, please visit: http://web.worldbank.org/external/projects/main?pagePK=104231&piPK=73230&theSite PK=40941&menuPK"8424&Projectid=P084329

For more information about the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, please visit: http://www.worldbank.org/artf