For most of Afghanistan’s history, central government and its services barely extended beyond Kabul. In most provinces and districts, tribal traditions and influential local leaders were in control.
Afghanistan’s 2004 Constitution established new forms of provincial and district government to promote effective democratic governance and service delivery.
The Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) soon assumed responsibility for leading and coordinating Afghanistan’s new subnational governance. The IDLG develops policy, appoints Provincial and District Governors and Mayors, coordinates democratically-elected Provincial Councils, and administers the offices and staff of all the above.
Governance reform is one of Afghanistan’s most visible successes over the last decade, but more needs to be done. The government’s writ and services have extended to many provinces and districts but don’t reach all areas. Pioneering policies and legislation have been developed and introduced but implementation is uneven and further reform is necessary. Governors’ offices coordinate development and governance, Provincial Councils represent citizens and many municipalities are efficient organisations, but these offices’ resources, functions and influence vary widely.
The Afghanistan Subnational Governance Programme (ASGP) supports governance reforms in the country’s 34 provinces. It is the only comprehensive source of support to Provincial and District Governors Offices, Provincial Councils, municipalities and the IDLG.
Policy support to IDLG
ASGP has supported the development of the Afghanistan Subnational Governance Policy, the National Priority Programme in Local Governance, Provincial Council and municipal legislation and regulations, and the introduction of merit-based recruitment of district governors. This support has included pioneering gender mainstreaming and gender initiatives, such as the IDLG’s first Gender Mainstreaming Policy and Afghanistan’s first Anti-Harassment guideline for all provincial district and municipal governance offices. ASGP has also supported the development of guidelines and toolkits that clarify the roles and responsibilities of Provincial and District Governors Offices.
Capacity development for Provincial and District governance and service delivery
ASGP supports capacity development for all 34 Provincial Governors Offices and Provincial Councils, as well as some District Governors Offices. This training and technical support allows the offices to fulfill their responsibilities in areas such as governance and service delivery, public outreach and financial management. As a result, communities have increased access to government services, people have a greater say in governance issues that affect them and institutions function more efficiently.
Support to municipalities
ASGP supports 21 Provincial and District municipalities in areas such as property and business registration, waste management and cleaning and greening. Our work also focuses on public accountability, public outreach and supporting municipalities to raise revenue to become more sustainable.
What we have accomplished so far?
- Subnational Governance Policy and National Priority Programme for Local Governance approved and implemented.
- Roles and responsibilities of subnational bodies in relation to governance and service delivery clearly identified.
- Main government priorities in local governance clearly identified.
- Central and local government better able to set and meet priorities that promote effective and inclusive local governance and deliver services that improve people’s lives.
- Provincial Development Plans completed/updated in 34 provinces, identifying local needs and solutions in areas such as social services, governance and security.
- All Provincial Councils successfully inaugurated by 2015, following elections in 2014. (20% of Provincial Council members are women.)
- Support provided to female Provincial Council regional forums and gender training for all Provincial Council members.
- Every Provincial Council member oriented on their roles under the Subnational Governance Policy.
- Provincial Council law amended so that Provincial Council members monitor service delivery, oversee local governance and resolve disputes.
- Revenue planning introduced in 40 municipalities to allow them to raise revenue and deliver services independent of the government.