UNDP office receives award for role in rebuilding Afghanistan

21 Jun 2011

WASHINGTON — The United States Committee for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) today presented its annual Julia V. Taft Award to UNDP’s Afghanistan-based office for its exceptional work in helping the country to reconcile and rebuild after decades of conflict.

“UNDP’s Country Office in Afghanistan delivers the largest UNDP programme anywhere in the world,” UNDP Administrator Helen Clark told a reception at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

“In doing so, staff face two key challenges. The first is the low, although slowly improving, capacity of national and local institutions that need to be able to implement programmes effectively and deliver essential services.”

But the second challenge, security conditions on the ground, often prevents UNDP from “being where it would like to be in the country to support capacity-building and programme delivery,” she said, citing four suicide attacks against UN operations in Afghanistan since 2009.

Kenneth Wollack, President of the National Democratic Institute and Chair of the Steering Group of the US Committee for UNDP, presented the 2011 award to Manoj Basnyat, UNDP Resident Representative (ad interim) and Country Director in Afghanistan.

“This is an honor that we share with our partners in the government and the international community,” Basnyat said. “This is a partnership that brings hope and optimism to the Afghan people. UNDP is working with the government and international donors to build up their future.”

UNDP’s programme in Afghanistan was approved with a budget of US$1.1 billion for 2010-2013, based on the Afghan government’s priorities.

In her speech to an audience of some 200 guests, Helen Clark cited a range of UNDP work, including training and support for the Afghan Independent Election Commission to organize free and fair elections and helping Afghanistan maintain its national police system.

The Administrator also referred to UNDP’s support to the work of provincial, district, and municipal governments aimed at ensuring their transition to full responsibility for delivering services.

Through small grants, UNDP also provides a bridge for former combatants between their first 90 days at home and the start of longer-term reintegration programmes.

The Julia V. Taft Award is presented annually by the US Committee for UNDP to a UNDP Country Office that has demonstrated the impact of teamwork to build a more democratic, prosperous, peaceful and secure world in a particularly challenging location.

The award was established in 2009 in memory of Julia Taft, an active member of the U.S. Committee before her untimely death from cancer in 2008. It was presented last year to UNDP in Haiti after the devastating January 2010 earthquake