ASGP First Quarter Progress Report 2014
The Afghanistan Subnational Governance Programme’s (ASGP) First Quarter Progress Report for 2014 outlines the project’s results and activities across all 34 provinces during the quarter. ASGP is a capacity development programme that supports more effective, sustainable and inclusive subnational governance across the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG), Provincial Governors Offices (PGO) and District Governors Offices (DGO), all 34 Provincial Councils (PC), and 19 municipalities. UNDP/ASGP technical and capacity development specialists, who work in seven regional offices including Kabul, support these activities and results, in partnership with ASGP-funded personnel in subnational offices and in IDLG.
Highlights of this Quarterly Progress Report include ongoing support to significant subnational policies and initiatives, including the Ministry of Finance’s draft Provincial Budgeting Policy (PBP), IDLG and MRRD’s District Coordination Councils Policy, and support to gender mainstreaming, in partnership with IDLG, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and UNDP. Highlights during Q1 include ASGP support to capacity development initiatives that complement the MOF’s draft policy, such as planning and budgeting and Public Financial Management (PFM). ASGP also supported IDLG’s General Directorate of Local Councils’ Affairs (GDCLCA) to support the development and orientation of the DCC policy, through workshops and technical support to GDCLCA and Provincial stakeholders.
In addition to institutional reform, ASGP continued to support organisational development of IDLG, PGOs and DGOs, PCs, and municipalities during Q1, to deliver more effective, sustainable and inclusive subnational governance and improved service delivery. ASGP focused on organisational development and public financial management capacity of PGOs, which lead and coordinate development and governance in the province according to the SNG. During Q1, tashkeel (Afghan civil service) occupancy increased to approximately 94%, the highest levels ever reported by PGO HR directorates to ASGP. This high level of occupancy and retention supports PGOs to function more efficiently, as they are not impacted by staff turnover and the attendant loss of organisational expertise.
ASGP continued to support capacity development of Provincial Council (PC) members and their work in dispute resolution, public oversight and internal meetings. This support enables PCs to more effectively function as representative, democratically elected bodies able to hold government to account. ASGP support to municipalities focused on increasing municipalities’ revenue streams and improving basic public services during Q1 2014, as well as the integration of gender priorities into municipal Capacity Development Plan and municipal service delivery.
ASGP support to IDLG’s organizational reform includes capacity development of technical assistance and tashkeel personnel, especially the Capacity and Institutional Development Directorate and the Policy Directorate. ASGP Capacity Assessments in Q1 demonstrated enhanced capacities for IDLG staff and directorates, including tashkeel personnel, as a result of ASGP capacity development over that quarter (please refer to Output One for more information). In addition, in Q1 ASGP supported IDLG ‘twinning arrangements’ between IDLG and subnational governance entities and relevant institutions in other countries, which resulted in improved personnel competencies in financial management and governance.
ASGP also partnered with the UNDP Gender Unit and the UNDP’s Gender Equality Project, as well as with government partners such as the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, to develop a workplan that commits a minimum of 12% to specific gender initiatives. This also responds to the priorities established by UNDP globally in the Strategic Plan, and to the Afghanistan Country Programme Document, which integrates gender equality throughout all outcomes. ASGP’s enhanced M&E framework, developed with inputs from these same partners as well as UNDP CO, increased its focus on gender activities and results in governance and service delivery, in line with the principles of gender mainstreaming as defined in the NPPLG.
ASGP gender results in Q1 encompassed institutional reform, principally through the anti-harassment guideline and support to gender sensitive policies, as well as organizational and individual capacity development for contract and tashkeel personnel, focused on gender sensitive governance, and gender mainstreaming. ASGP is working with UNDP and UN partners, and PGO and DGOs, Provincial Councils and municipalities, as well as the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and civil society, to ensure that gender equality is mainstreamed in ASGP and partner work plans, and effectively monitored and evaluated. During Q1, ASGP continued to support governance initiatives that directly and positively impact women’s economic livelihoods, including internship and employment programmes, and the promotion of gender-responsive governance and gender-responsive service delivery (for more examples, please refer to the section on gender).
In addition to the successes of Q1, it is important to acknowledge the challenges and lessons learned of that quarter, as well as the challenges that lie ahead. Protracted negotiations with IDLG over the National Technical Assistance policy and the Annual Work Plan impeded project delivery during Q1, and ASGP operated on a temporary, restricted budget. As a mitigating strategy, ASGP personnel focused on governance and capacity development activities that did not require significant financial outlay, for example trainings, and on-the-job coaching and mentoring of tashkeel staff related to their daily activities in the office, such as administration, office management, and public outreach. In addition, the 2014 Presidential and Provincial Council elections impacted the delivery and leadership of government partners at the national and subnational levels. Electoral law restricted PGO and PC activities during the electoral campaign, including certain governance activities supported by ASGP. The inability of provincial partners to lead AWP development and implementation compounded the slowdown in project delivery in Q1, and this factor will persist into Q2 2014. To mitigate this, ASGP partnered with other SNG personnel unaffected by electoral restrictions to support governance work, for example, by working with ASGP-supported technical specialists embedded in SNG offices, and with the tashkeel to implement SNG activities. ASGP would like to thank current donors who committed in Q1 to continuing their partnership with the only GOA-endorsed, National Priority Programme to support subnational governance across Afghanistan, and work collectively toward more effective, sustainable and inclusive governance, improved service delivery, and positive results for the people of Afghanistan.