Building Self-Reliance and Healthy Institutions in Afghanistan — By Sarah Allibhoy, Programs Fellow on Partnerships In Action Org
President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, His Excellency Mohammad Ashraf Ghani. Photo credit: United States Institute of Peace.
President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah, the leaders of Afghanistan’s new unity government, were in Washington, DC at the end of March for their first official visit to the United States. In a joint statement released by the White House during the visit, President Obama and President Ghani outlined their key economic and social development priorities in Afghanistan including strengthening good governance, reducing poverty, and supporting a thriving civil society. Both President Ghani and Dr. Abdullah expressed their commitment to fostering greater regional cooperation, taking advantage of Afghanistan’s location as the crossroads of South and Central Asia to exchange goods and energy across the region.
My colleagues at the Aga Khan Foundation U.S.A. and I had the opportunity to attend the forums held by the Afghan leaders at the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Brookings Institution during their visit. In attending these events, I was encouraged to hear both U.S. and Afghan leaders express their commitment towards building a self-reliant Afghanistan. The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) has established a long-term presence working towards the goals prioritized by the Afghan people. The AKDN has been present in Afghanistan since 1995, using an integrated approach that combines efforts from various sectors to strengthen outcomes. The Network engages in a broad range of work, including social development and humanitarian assistance through Aga Khan Foundation; cultural development such as the rehabilitation of Bagh-e-Babur in Kabul; and economic development through investments in enterprises like Roshan, Afghanistan’s leading telecommunications provider.
Working in partnership with both the U.S. and the Afghan governments, the Aga Khan Foundation U.S.A. (AKF USA) addresses the range of Afghanistan’s development priorities highlighted in recent weeks. Under the Government of Afghanistan’s National Solidarity Program (NSP), AKF USA as the implementing partner, works with Afghan Community Development Councils (CDCs) to build self-reliance and address urgent needs in their local communities. AKF USA has partnered with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on the Multi-Input Area Development Global Development Alliance (MIAD GDA), working with Afghan communities to carry out a broad range of social development activities in health, education, livelihoods, infrastructure and energy, and governance, while simultaneously making investments in a variety of large and small enterprises. These investments will help drive the economy, create jobs, and ultimately generate returns to ensure continued funding of social activities. Additionally, in partnership with USAID, AKF supported the expansion of cross-border energy transmission lines between Afghanistan and Tajikistan, promoting regional energy cooperation and economic activity. AKF USA was a key partner in establishing and registering the Afghan Institute for Civil Society, which was launched in February 2015 as an independent national institution that will support a credible and competent civil society sector.
Through these projects, AKF USA is committed to investing in a multi-sector approach. Trustworthy public institutions, a thriving private sector, and credible civil society organizations are essential to the stability and success of a country. The AKDN works closely with public institutions, the private sector, and civil society organizations in Afghanistan and the region to implement innovative approaches to sustainably improve the quality of life. In doing so, the AKDN helps build strong institutions to strengthen good governance, empower communities to reduce poverty, and join public and private energies together to rebuild Afghanistan after years of conflict. As stated by President Ghani in a forum held at the U.S. Institute for Peace, moving forward, Afghanistan needs a “framework of creative tension” between private businesses, government, and civil society. I know that for myself (and many of my AKF USA colleagues would agree), I aim to embrace this creative tension in working towards a prosperous future for Afghanistan.
Source: Partnerships In Action Org