Selected World Bank Achievements in Afghanistan
Education: The World Bank is helping to rehabilitate primary schools and train teachers, while giving technical assistance to strengthen the Ministries of Education and Higher Education. The Bank’s Education Quality Improvement Program (EQUIP) gives funds to communities to rehabilitate or construct school buildings and access teaching and learning materials. Funds are directed through School Shuras, now functioning in more than 13,500 schools. Since 2001, a total of 442 schools have been constructed and 416 are under construction and expected to be built by March 2015.
The Skills Development Program revived two key institutions in Kabul: the National Institute of Management and Administration that prepares young professionals to acquire junior level jobs in the public and private sectors; and the National Institute of Music that trains gifted young musicians, establishing a nurturing platform for music in the country. By March 2015, some 9,000 students are expected to graduate from both institutions.
Health: Over the past decade, Afghanistan has made steady progress in the health sector. The number of health facilities in 11 target provinces nearly tripled from 148 to 432. Around 20,000 community health workers—half of them women—were trained and deployed throughout the country, increasing access to family planning and boosting childhood vaccinations. The number of facilities with trained female health workers rose from 25 percent before the project to 74 percent today. At the same time, the number of functioning health facilities increased from 496 to more than 2,000. These interventions have produced significant improvement in the coverage of reproductive and child health services, as well as a significant drop in maternal and child mortality.
Bringing most of the efforts in public health service delivery under one umbrella in Afghanistan, the System Enhancement for Health Action in Transition (SEHAT) Program is expanding the provision of basic health and essential hospital services in both rural and urban areas, in 22 provinces and strengthening the capacity of the Ministry of Public Health at central and provincial levels to effectively carry out its stewardship functions. On February 28, 2013, the World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved a $100 million grant to support SEHAT program. The program, financed in the amount of $407 million, will be jointly supported through a contribution of $30 million from GoA, $100 million from an IDA Grant, $7 million from Norwegian Health Results Innovation Trust Fund, and $270 million from ARTF.
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 32,000 CDCs in 390 districts representing over 98 percent of districts in Afghanistan have received over $1.3 billion in block grants; and implemented over 77,000 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.
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. The rehabilitation of 43 medium and large irrigation schemes has been completed. It is expected that work on 60 irrigation schemes will be completed by March 2015.
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 450 Enterprise Groups (58 percent women) and 150 Small and Medium Enterprises that have been selected for their potential as key drivers of rural employment and income generation. 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 500 SMEs. Moreover, the Facility has signed cost-sharing grant contracts with over 200 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 50 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.