With the arrival of Mr. Abdallah Al Dardari as the new Resident Representative of UNDP Afghanistan, transformational changes are sweeping through the Afghanistan Country Office.
To kickstart the process for the next country programme for the next two years, Mr. Al Dardari commissioned a three-day retreat for all of UNDP Afghanistan’s staff, to communicate his vision, and generate ideas that will inform the new country programme.
A top priority of Mr. Al Dardari is the need to find ‘Afghan solutions to Afghan problems’ in Afghanistan, and transition from “an economy that works for war, to one that works for peace”. Since his arrival in May this year, Mr. Al Dardari has already reached out to the relevant government institutions, donors and stake holders to try to flesh out his vision and get people on board.
The central goal of the new Resident Representative's changes is to reposition UNDP at the center of the development agenda as the ‘integrator’ of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This ‘integrator’ role means that UNDP will work across ministries and organizations in a ‘whole of society’ approach to achieve the 2030 agenda.
In addition, he intends to roll out a ‘platform’ approach to programming, which means moving away from siloed projects (the way development has been done in the past) and integrating actors and stake holders across the development sector to effect change.
Speaking at the retreat, Mr. Al Dardari emphasized the importance of the participation of all staff in the design and implementation of programmes based on the priorities of Afghanistan and in line with the Global Goals.
“Our priority is to take note of the needs and aspirations of the people of Afghanistan and design programmes responding to those needs,” said Mr Al Dardari. This inclusive discussion starts here, as the vast majority of our staff are citizens from all the regions of Afghanistan.”
The retreat included a preliminary session where staff shared their dreams for Afghanistan in 2025. Many interesting and ambitious ideas came out of this exercise. ‘Peace’ was obviously high on the agenda, but also issues such as justice, good governance and a green economy.
In the second half of the retreat, the participants were divided into working groups to look at more concrete solutions for tackling problems. The ideas generated will inform the new UNDP Country Programme.
As the main development pillar of the United Nations, UNDP has been present in Afghanistan for over 50 years, supporting the people and Government of Afghanistan to build its capacity and its institutions, and move from recovery to development and towards the achievement of SDGs. The new Resident Representative is emphatic, however, that UNDP needs to change with the times if it is to provide effective assistance to the country.