FEATURE STORY September 19, 2018

Afghanistan’s Citizens’ Charter Paves the Way for Change in Balkh Province

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Citizens’ Charter is an inter-ministerial effort to deliver a package of basic services through strengthened Community Development Councils in participating communities across Afghanistan. 

Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank


STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Residents in a neighborhood of Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province, had long struggled with unpaved lanes and poor drainage, resulting in a poor hygienic environment and low trust in the local government.
  • These issues are being resolved through the first sub-project under the Citizens’ Charter Afghanistan Project and implemented by the local Community Development Council.
  • The project aims to improve delivery of core infrastructure, emergency support and social services to communities with the hope to increase citizen satisfaction and trust in government.

MAZAR-E-SHARIF, BALKH PROVINCE – For many years, residents in Kart-e-General Osman Asadi neighborhood in district 8 of Balkh’s provincial capital struggled with unpaved and poorly drained lanes. Sometimes the streets were dusty; at other times, muddy.

The community made many requests to have their lanes paved. Gul Ahmad, 56, a neighborhood resident, says they approached many organizations, but never got a positive response. “Unfortunately, our requests were disregarded every time, resulting in disappointment for the locals and creating low trust between the people and government.”

The residents’ frustration and lack of trust started to change after Citizens’ Charter Afghanistan Project (Citizens’ Charter) began work in Mazar-e-Sharif in April 2017. “At first, when the Citizens’ Charter employees came to us, we thought they were wasting our time, but slowly as they introduced their activities, we became interested and soon we established our own Community Development Council,” says Gul Ahmad, who was elected to head the council of 18 members, half of whom are women.

(CDC) and prioritize their needs. The CDC quickly organized around community members’ longstanding desire for paved lanes. The Kart-e-Asaid CDC became the first in Mazar-e-Sharif to start a sub-project under Citizens’ Charter.

The Citizens’ Charter is covering 75 percent of the total cost, while residents contribute the remaining 25 percent. “The concern in our residential area was the mud and dirty stagnant water in the lanes,” says Sima, 45, a CDC member. “As there is no recreational park near us, sometimes the children play games in the streets and fall ill as a result.  Thanks to Citizens’ Charter helping us pave our lanes, that problem is being resolved for all the residents,” she adds.


"We are so happy our area is getting better"
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Mohammad Anwar Nabil
resident of Kart-e-General Osman Asadi neighborhood, Mazar-e-Sharif

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To date, 83 Community Develpment Councils in Mazar-e-Sharif city have finalized their development plans, and 58 have received grants for implementing projects such as electrification, potable water, paving streets, and establishing drainage systems. 

Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank


Commitment to Deliver to Citizens

The Citizens’ Charter is an inter-ministerial effort to deliver a package of basic services through strengthened CDCs in participating communities. It is supported by $128 million in government funding, a $227.7 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries, and a $444.3 million grant from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), administered by the World Bank on behalf of 34 donor countries. Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) is responsible for implementation in rural areas of the country, while Independent Directorate of Local Governance is responsible for implementation in the four major cities of Herat, Jalalabad, Kandahar, and Mazar-e-Sharif.

In April 2017, Citizens’ Charter activities began in Mazar-e-Sharif, where IDLG and the municipality are coordinating to extend the program to four of the city’s12 municipal districts—7, 9, 10, and district 8, where the Karte-e-Asadi neighborhood is located. . Thirty Gozar Assemblies (GAs) will also be set up in the city. Each GA comprises four to five CDCs and aims to handle development that extend across a broader area.

, such as electrification, potable water, paving streets, and establishing drainage systems. Citizens’ Charter plans to implement around 180 development sub-projects in the first phase through the CDCs and GAs in Mazar-e-Sharif city. 

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Construction site in the Kart-e-General Osman Asadi neighborhood of Mazar-e-Sharif's district 8. The Citizens’ Charter covered 75 percent of the total project cost, with residents contributing the remaining 25 percent. Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank


A Start for Positive Change

“Currently, in the areas that we have covered, people feel closer to the local government and know that they also share responsibility in development.”

She is hopeful that the development sub-projects will have a sustainable impact: “If we go forward like this and people implement their development sub-projects, I am sure Citizens’ Charter sub-projects will not just increase people’s overall awareness, but will change the entire face of Mazar-e-Sharif city.”

Kart-e-Asadi resident Mohammad Anwar Nabil, 66, a retired official from the Information and Culture Directorate of Balkh Province, is happy that the lanes are being paved. He says that the sub-project has not only created short-term work for many laborers living in the area, but also a better environment in the long term. He says that the sub-project has not only created short-term work for many laborers living in the area, but also a better environment in the long term.

“We are so happy our area is getting better,” says Anwar. “I think if all people could work with their government and implement projects in a good way, one day we would have an Afghanistan without challenges.” He hopes they can accomplish more with their CDC and with Citizens’ Charter support.

. The work of the sub-committees and the citizen monitoring of the services, essential components of the Citizens’ Charter, will be undertaken in parallel to the implementation of the community and Gozar-level infrastructure subprojects that are supported by project grants.

Karte-e-Asadi residents want a clean and organized neighborhood. As the street pavement finishes, they hope to access Citizens’ Charter support for broader projects at the Gozar level. They are looking forward to their next projects.



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