WASHINGTON, June 29, 2010 — The World Bank approved a $40 million grant to the Government of Afghanistan today to support the Third National Solidarity Program (NSP III). NSP III builds upon the achievements of the first two phases of the NSP, widely recognized as one the most successful development programs in Afghanistan.
Under NSP III, the roll out of elected Community Development Councils (CDCs) to every rural community in Afghanistan will be completed. These Councils, made up of both men and women, determine the use of small grants to build essential infrastructure depending on the particular needs of the village. By channeling resources to democratically-elected CDCs, the program not only increases the access of rural communities to basic services and infrastructure, but also fosters participatory involvement and accountability in village level development.
“The NSP has empowered rural people including women, strengthened local governance at the community level, enhanced social cohesion and promoted conflict resolution,” said Nicholas J. Krafft, World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan and Bhutan. “With the grants provided to the Community Development Councils, investments in rural infrastructure will not only empower the rural poor but will have longer term positive impacts on their quality of life.
In addition to World Bank financing, the National Solidarity Program has been supported by some 20 donors who contribute to the World Bank administered Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), to the Japanese Social Development Fund (JSDF) or support the program bi-laterally. NSP III is a $1.5 billion program which will be implemented over the next five years. Since the inception of the first NSP program in 2003, 17 million rural people in all 34 of Afghanistan’s provinces have benefitted from improved infrastructure such as access to water, electricity and roads through the NSP. 22,000 CDCs have been elected and over 40,000 village level projects have been completed. Another 10,000 sub-projects are nearing completion. From 2003 until June 2010, NSP has disbursed over $700 million directly to communities.
“This program will reach out to every rural community in the country making NSP a truly national program,” said HE Jurullah Mansoori, Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development. “It will consolidate, leverage and sustain gains made in social capital and community institutions by providing a second round of grants, ensuring quality of physical investments, continued good governance and the meaningful and active participation of women throughout the process. Communities will also be encouraged to federate and cluster to engage with other government programs.”
Under NSP III, a number of innovations have been introduced to support the Government of Afghanistan’s vision for the CDCs as the sustainable institutions of village level government. First, NSP III will support the completion of the roll out of initial block grants to the remaining 10,320 communities so that the program will cover all rural communities in Afghanistan. Second, in view of the immense developmental needs of the rural population, a second round of grants will be provided to 17,400 CDCs that have successfully used their initial grant. Third, and most importantly, NSP III will focus on improving the institutional quality, sustainability and governance of CDCs and enhance their ability to engage with other institutions.