UNDP Afghanistan Senior Deputy Resident Representative (Programmes) Ms. Surayo Buzurukova, accompanied by a team of UNDP programme experts, visited Nangarhar province in Eastern Afghanistan last December. The main purpose of Buzurukova’s mission was to visit UNDP projects in the field, meet with provincial authorities, academics, UN agencies, and members of the community to listen their priorities at the local level. Surayo updated partners on on-going UNDP interventions and its integrated UNDP approach to development with a focus on localizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
On the second day of her visit, Buzurukova and the team met with the Governor of Nanagarhar, Mr. Zia ul Haq Amarkhel. She briefed the governor on the Geneva Conference and the new UNDP programme intervention as well as the new approach UNDP is taking in development programming. The Governor assured Buzurukova of the provincial government’s full support and cooperation. Amarkhel proposed an area-based approach to projects where the local government and communities can contribute as much as 20 percent of the project costs to ensure local ownership and sustainability.
During the visit, a project board meeting of the Climate-Induced Disaster Risk Reduction Project (CDRRP) was also conducted outside Kabul for the first time, an indication of the shift to a decentralized approach which brings decision makers to the provinces where most interventions are taking place. The CDRRP project board meeting also updated board members, which include the deputy ministers from the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority, National Environmental Protection Agency, as well as irectors from other government institutions. Board members were briefed on challenges and achievements in 2020 as well as plans for 2021.
The UNDP team also visited CDRRP projects and met with members of the community. Ms. Buzurukova surveyed a protection wall in Muslim Abad village that provides protection for more than 2000 families and thousands of acres of land from the raging Kunar river in summer.
“We are grateful for UNDP’s support to protect our homes and farmland. We request the protection wall to be extended so thousands more homes and land can be rescued,” said Shir Wali, a village elder from Muslim Abad.
UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Buzurukova expressed her gratitude to have had the opportunity to visit the village and promised to extend the project.
“We all have a dream to reach to the moon and sky, in this case we are bringing the extension of the project to a little bit closer to the sky. We’re not at the moon yet, but, inshallah, the moon will also happen,” Buzurukova said.
On the third day of her visit, Ms. Buzurukova and the team visited the UNDP/Global Fund supported Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) Centre that provides care and treatment for HIV/AIDS patients in the eastern region. The center is the only of its kind in the entire eastern region where over 200 patients, including 126 men and 75 women and children are receiving treatment. Due to stigma and cultural sensitivities, people infected with HIV do not come forward for testing or treatment easily. Thanks to continued awareness-raising efforts by UNDP through the Global Fund, people have started to open up and come forward for testing and treatment.
Buzurukova and her team also visited Nangarhar University, the third-largest university in the country with 13 undergraduate faculties, five masters’ degree programmes and a PhD programme. The university requested UNDP’s support for a degree programme on SDG studies, as well technical support for the university’s laboratories. Ms. Buzurukova reiterated UNDP’s desire to work with the university on mainstreaming SDGs in the local academic literature, as well as UNDP’s support for an SDG-related degree programme.
The team also met with UN agencies working in the eastern region and emphasized on the need for better coordination between UN agencies to fill the gap between humanitarian response and recovery interventions. Buzurukova also visited a police station and met with local police officers who briefed her on the overall security situation and the needs and requirements of police in order to better serve their communities. She took note of their needs and promised to include their requests in to upcoming projects that UNDP is developing in support of police and the rule of law.
On the last day of the visit, Buzurukova and the team met with the provincial director of Rural Rehabilitation and Development and visited a medical mobile team supported by UNDP which provides risk communication on COVID-19. The provincial director applauded the effective work of UNDP projects in the province and requested the expansion of small and medium projects, especially renewable energy and irrigation initiatives to help boost the local economy and improve people’s lives in the remote areas.
Over the past two decades, UNDP has implemented several projects in Nangarhar and the eastern region, which have helped improve local livelihoods. UNDP is committed to working closely with the Government of Afghanistan both at national and local levels to achieve lasting peace, prosperous communities, and sustainable development.