UNDP Afghanistan Resident Representative, Mr. Abdallah Al Dardari was on mission to Herat province from 14 to 16 November 2020. The mission focused on meeting key stakeholders, such as the provincial government authorities, UN agencies, the private sector and civil society organizations. It aimed to understand the issues, realities and development challenges in Herat province and align UNDPs development offer with these priorities.
Mr. Dardari discussed specific programmatic interventions for boosting the local economy, creating jobs and implementing local governance reform initiatives during his meetings with Herat Governor, members of Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI), the Chancellor of Herat University. These meetings were geared toward obtaining a first-hand understanding of unique development challenges and issues that Herat faces and assistance that UNDP can provide.
During the meeting with the head ACCI in Herat, Mr. Younus Qazi Zada, the crucial role of the provincial private sector in stimulating economic growth and job creation was highlighted, and a number of initiatives were discussed to support Herat private sector in creating business and investment opportunities.
“UNDP is expanding its cooperation with private sector, as it is fully aware that without private sector there will be no jobs, no investment and no transformation,” said Mr. Dardari.
“Therefore, UNDP is developing tools for better engagement with the private sector, particularly with SDGs financing which will be aimed at bringing in private investment to Afghanistan.”
In a meeting with Sayed Akram Afzali, the Executive Director of Integrity Watch Afghanistan, UNDP discussed a range of new initiatives for local governance reform and support to the government on implementing specific measures for building integrity and transparency in the public sector. Mr. Afzali thanked UNDP for its support and commitment to the people of Afghanistan.
The same day, Mr. Dardari met the Governor of Herat, Said Wahid Qatali. During the meeting, he announced that UNDP through GEF will launch a new project called “Climate Change Resilient Livelihoods Advanced in Rural Afghanistan” with a total funding of US$9.5 million starting in 2021, and that Herat will be one of the key provinces covered by this project.
“Our message is clear, we support all your programs in Herat and the region, we want to have a strong partnership with UNDP,” Governor Qatali.
The meeting with the governor of Herat ended with a decision that UNDP will further work with the sectoral departments in Herat to have a better idea of Herat development priorities.
On the meeting between Mr. Dardari and Dr. Abdullah Fayez, the chancellor of the University, the discussion focused on current programs, future plans and the role of universities in job creation.
“Universities play a crucial role in integrating the sustainable development goals in local community socio-economic development, universities host very important research centers. This includes work underway by universities to bring in SDGs into their planning, publications and their consultations with the local authorities and local private sector,” said Mr. Dardari.
Furthermore, Mr. Dardari met the UN agencies in Herat, and emphasized that UNDP’s work will be carried out in coordination with other UN agencies to eliminate duplication, cut costs, and ensure coherent One UN support to the ANPDF, the NPPs, and the A-SDGs.
“UNDP will work with all UN agencies through the triple nexus approach that refers to the interlinkages between humanitarian, development, and peace actors,” Mr. Dardari.
Herat is an industrial province that lies on the ancient trade routes of the Middle East, Central, and South Asia, and it is a regional hub in western Afghanistan. The roads from Herat to Iran, Turkmenistan, and other parts of Afghanistan are still strategically important. As the gateway to Iran, it collects a high amount of customs revenue for Afghanistan.
UNDP is working in Herat for the past years and has implemented a number of successful projects in Health, Environment, Rule of Law, Livelihoods, and Governance.