Selected World Bank Achievements in Afghanistan
Economy: Afghanistan experienced a sharp slowdown in economic growth to 3.7 percent (estimated) in 2013 from 9.4 percent per year during 2003-12. Uncertainty over the political and security transition led to a slump in investor and consumer confidence and a sharp reduction of new investment commitments in the non-agriculture sectors. Agricultural production was robust in 2013 but did not exceed the record levels of 2012. Several indicators point to a further slowdown of economic growth to 1.5 percent in 2014. Domestic revenues have continued to weaken in 2014. Based on current trends, the authorities are targeting revenues of Afs 105 billion ($1.82 billion) or 8.7 percent of GDP for fiscal 2014. This would be Afs 28.8 billion ($500 million) short of the target set out in the approved 2014 budget. It would also represent a further decline from revenues of 9.7 percent of GDP in 2013, itself down from a peak of 11.6 percent in 2011. The report highlights that without credible reforms to improve revenue mobilization and growth prospects, the underlying problems will remain unaddressed and the fiscal crisis would likely recur in 2015. In particular, reforms are needed to strengthen both tax and customs enforcement and to broaden the tax base. Specific measures could include expediting implementation of the new Value Added Tax, reversing the reduction of the VAT rate from 10 percent to 5 percent, expediting implementation of key measures under the Customs Action Plan, and conducting effective risk-based tax audits to improve compliance. While these measures are critical to improve revenue mobilization in 2015 and beyond, they are unlikely to solve the problem or close the unfinanced gap in 2014. The medium-term development challenges require reforms in areas of: (i) restoring fiscal stability; (ii) restoring confidence and creating private-sector jobs; and (iii) strengthening social cohesion, governance and service delivery.
Education: In 2001, after the fall of the Taliban, net enrollment was estimated at 43% for boys and a dismal 3% for girls. Moreover, there were only about 21,000 teachers (largely under-educated) for a school-age population estimated at more than 5 million — or about 240 students for every marginally trained teacher. Since 2002, school enrollment has increased from 1 million to 8.7 million; girls’ enrollment increased from 191,000 to more than 3.75 million. Majority of the teacher force, 195,000, have received teacher training either through Teacher Training Centers or In-service Teacher Training. Efforts are ongoing to continuously upgrade teacher qualifications and overall access to equitable and quality education in Afghanistan. In the same period, the number of teachers had grown from 20,000 to more than 187,000.
Health: The Afghan health system has made considerable progress during the past decade thanks to strong government leadership, sound public health policies, innovative service delivery, careful program monitoring and evaluation, and development assistance. Data from household surveys (between 2003 and 2011) show significant declines in maternal and child mortality. The under-5 mortality rate and infant mortality rate dropped from 257 and 165 per 1,000 live births to 97 and 77 respectively. The maternal mortality ratio is 327 per 100,000 live births, compared with 1,600 in 2002. The number of functioning health facilities in-creased from 496 in 2002 to more than 2,000 in 2012, while at the same time the proportion of facilities with female staff increased.
Despite significant improvements in the coverage and quality of health services, as well as a drop in maternal, infant and under-5 mortality, Afghan health indicators remain below average for low in-come countries, indicating the need to further lower barriers for women accessing services. Afghanistan has one of the highest levels of child malnutrition in the world, with about 55 percent of children under five suffering from chronic malnutrition while both women and children suffer from high levels of vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Access to Electricity: The percentage of the population with access to electricity in Afghanistan is among the lowest in the world. The Ministry of Energy and Water estimates that about 30% of Afghans have access to electricity from grid-based power, micro-hydro, or solar panel stations. The situation has improved significantly in the major urban population centers along the critical North East corridor between Mazar-e-Sharif and Kabul, following the import of power from Uzbekistan and the rehabilitation of three hydro plants (Mahipar and Sarobi completed, and Naghlu ongoing). Increasing parts of some urban centers, for example Kabul, Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, and Pul-e-Khumri, now have a 24-hour power supply for the first time in decades.
Rural Development: The National Solidarity Program (NSP), the Government of Afghanistan’s flagship rural development program, is empowering rural communities by facilitating democratically elected Community Development Councils (CDCs). To date, over 33,400 CDCs have received over $1.48 billion in block grants; and implemented over 83,700 rural infrastructure sub-projects in their respective villages. About 80% of the projects involve infrastructure such as irrigation, rural roads, electrification, and drinking water supply, all critical for the recovery of the rural economy. More than half the projects have been completed.
Improving access to basic services and facilities through secondary and tertiary roads, the Afghanistan Rural Access Project will increase the number of people living within two kilometers (km) of feeder roads and reduce travel time to essential services. The project is expected to build 500 km of secondary roads and 600 km of tertiary roads by March 2015. To date more than 11,000 km of rural roads and related drainage structures have been upgraded or rehabilitated under these programs through four projects financed through IDA, ARTF, and other funds.
Customs: The Customs Reform and Trade Facilitation Project assisted the Afghan Customs Department (ACD) to migrate to the web-based ASYCUDA World system, an automated system for customs data. This system is in operation at Islamqala, Kabul and Kabul Airport Customs where it has further expedited the release of legitimate goods. By March 2015, ACD will also install systems for real time monitoring of customs operations, and cross-border custom-to-custom data exchange with neighboring countries.
Horticulture and Livestock: Building on the 5,000 hectares of fruit orchards established since 2009 through its predecessor, the National Horticulture and Livestock Project (NHLP), in addition to rehabilitating 6,000 hectares of old orchards, will plant 1,500 new vineyards and orchards of apricots, pomegranates, almonds, and pistachios in 1393. The project is also expected to reduce animal brucellosis by 15 percent throughout the country, granting a means of sustainable income to the rural poor by March 2015.
Irrigation: With over 85 percent of rural population relying on agriculture, irrigation remains a pressing need in rural Afghanistan. The Irrigation Restoration and Development Project (IRDP) is ensuring irrigation of some 300,000 hectares of land by rehabilitating irrigation systems and building a limited number of small multi-purpose dams. In the small dam component, the completed pre-feasibility study had selected seven dam sites in the northern provinces and feasibility study for 6 dams are submitted (the seventh site is not accessible for drilling) and it is under review and the completed parts of the feasibility study report for 3 remaining dam sites are submitted as per the contract. In the hydro-met component, installation of hydro-meteorological equipment had been completed and data collection performance of the installed stations also improved considerably in all 5 river basins.
Rural Enterprise: Since its inception, the Afghanistan Rural Enterprise Development Project (AREDP) has mobilized 41,800 rural poor—almost half of whom are women—in 3,500 village Savings Groups (SGs), which have collectively saved over $1.5 million. Federated in 35 Village Savings & Loans Associations (VSLAs), they have issued over 10,400 loans to SG members with a repayment rate of about 95 percent.
On average each VSLA has $3,300 as loan-able capital which will be further boosted with a seed grant injection in the coming months. This improves access to finance for group members who cannot access such funds from commercial banks or microfinance institutions. AREDP also works towards strengthening market linkages and value chains for rural enterprises by providing technical support to over 1,345, Enterprise Groups (63 percent female) and 256 (13 percent female) Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that have been selected for their potential as key drivers of rural employment and income generation. A total of 6 Provincial Situations Analysis (PSA) are completed and ten PSAs are underway. AREDP uses Community Development Councils as an entry point into communities and is currently working in 20 districts of five provinces: Parwan, Bamyan, Nangarhar, Balkh, and Herat.
Market Development: The Afghanistan New Market Development Project aims to pilot a business development program in the four urban centers of Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, Jalalabad and Herat, which are the major hubs of economic activity. The projects aims to help enterprises gain market knowledge, improve product quality, boost productive capacity, acquire new technologies, and develop and implement business plans to increase their presence in both domestic and export markets. To date, the Facility has received applications from over 745 SMEs. Moreover, the Facility has signed cost-sharing grant contracts with over 311 SMEs.
Telecommunications: The Afghanistan Information and Communication Technology Sector Development Project is helping expand telecommunications connectivity, giving Afghans greater access to telephone and Internet services. It supports the Government’s use of mobile technologies to improve public service delivery in strategic sectors in Afghanistan. The project will train 1,500 young Afghans to develop IT skills and improve their employability by March 2015. Implementation of three contracts for the installation and commissioning of approximately 1,000 kilometers of fiber optic cables; and one contract for the establishment of a shared government mobile services delivery platform has taken off. Optical fiber cable construction is progressing; about 200 kilometers of ducting has been completed. The Ministry of Communications and IT adopted an open access policy for the national backbone network, ensuring non-discriminatory access to wholesale internet bandwidth for all firms. Some 450 Afghans have been trained under the IT skills development program. The first round of the Innovation Support Program awarded 11 local innovators for their ideas on how mobile technologies could help address nine challenges in various sectors including agriculture, education, and health.
Last Updated: Mar 26, 2015