SALAM Annual Progress Report 2017
Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are among the most vulnerable population groups in Afghanistan, with high levels of socio-economic vulnerability, including restricted access to basic services and employment opportunities. Within these groups women, youth, persons with disabilities and unskilled labourers are especially vulnerable. Large inflow of returnees and displaced persons can strain the capacity of host communities. Competition for limited resources and services can too easily become a driver of conflict. Extreme vulnerability increases the risk of radicalization, and recruitment for violent extremism.
The Support Afghanistan Livelihoods and Mobility (SALAM) project is a joint programme of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), International Labour Organization (ILO) and United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), implemented primarily by the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled (MoLSAMD). With initial funding support from the Government of Finland, SALAM aims to meet the sustainable livelihoods needs of returnees and IDPs in Nangarhar province, in the wake of the massive and ongoing return of Afghan people from Pakistan and elsewhere.
The SALAM Project Document was signed in March 2017. In the period until the December Project Inception Workshop in Nangarhar, which marked the end of the Project Inception Phase, the SALAM project faced considerable challenges in launching implementation activities and delivery of results to beneficiaries.
These included a change of Ministry leadership, which in turn delayed recruitment of both national and international SALAM project staff, and resulted in low financial delivery, and activity related delivery. The Harmonized Approach to Cash Transfers (HACT) assessment, which is an independent assessment of MoLSAMD capacity and a prerequisite for the choice of cash transfer modality was also delayed, mainly because of changes in Ministry leadership, the novelty of the assessment and internal differences in the Ministry on how to handle the release of data. Underpinning these issues is the observation that MoLSAMD is a new partner of the United Nations Development Programme, which has contributed to limiting progress. In parallel, there were difficulties confirming the process of fund transfer between UNDP and ILO, which prevented the start of ILO led activities.
During this the Project Initiation Phase, SALAM focused on responding with individualized mitigation measures and setting up an enabling and conducive project environment for example staff recruitment and project office set up on secure MoLSAMD premises. In consideration of the complex project structure, the diversity of stakeholders, and the consideration that MoLSAMD is a new partner, SALAM focused
considerable efforts on strengthening partnerships and coordination, working closely with the Durable Solutions Working Group and Labour Migration Working Group among other initiatives, and with the responsible MoLSAMD departments, including the Directorate of Manpower, Directorate of Skills Development, and Directorate of Policy and Planning.
It became apparent that the Annual Work Plan indicators for 2017 did not capture this project progress, and that it would be necessary to request a No Cost Extension to complete agreed upon project activities. In December 2017, after the Second Project Board meeting and Project Inception Workshop held in Nangarhar, SALAM, ILO and MoLSAMD revised the project 2018-2019 Annual, Human Resources, Procurement Workplans and Budget, focusing on the funded component to be delivered in Nangarhar, with revised indicators to reflect the current project scope.
The importance of project communications, both internal and external, were highlighted during these partnership-building activities, along with the value of ensuring clear and accurate communication among implementation partners, and with external stakeholders.
In summary, the project’s chronological progress was characterized by initial limited progress, followed by rapid improvement towards the end of the year. Challenges going forward will include: the need to quickly complete outstanding preparatory activities; the need to implement job-creation activities to complement the current focus on vocational training; the need to attract resources to enable the implementation of job-creation activities; the need to consolidate the shift of project focus from Kabul to Nangarhar Province, to more directly support the intended project beneficiaries.