Events highlight development progress and challenges in Afghanistan

13 May 2013

Washington, D.C. – A discussion on "Building on Progress in Afghanistan: 2014 and Beyond” was held in Washington today at an event organized in partnership between the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), offering a big picture of the country’s current situation and development challenges.

A similar briefing with Afghanistan partners was organized on 9 May in New York, co-hosted by the Afghan Mission to the United Nations and the UNDP.

After more than five decades of development work in Afghanistan, with a special focus on building resilience for Afghan institutions at all levels, UNDP has a special and critical role. The organization is committed to working more closely with the Afghan people and development partners to consolidate the results achieved so far and pave the way for further development, security and prosperity for the people of Afghanistan.

“Things that are taken for granted in other parts of the world make an important difference in the lives of Afghan people,” UNDP Assistant Administrator Ajay Chhibber said at the New York event, as he referred to the significant challenges facing the country.

Despite obvious shortcomings and many setbacks, Afghanistan has seen significant progress that is often overlooked in discourse on the future of the country.

For example, some 3 million girls are attending schools in Afghanistan today, whereas under Taliban rule, girls' education was outlawed.  Mr. Chhibber, a development veteran, provided his perspective on the current state of Afghanistan, its prospects going forward, and development successes that are sometimes overlooked.

As a result of several political, economic and social transitions, there is a need for a continuous focus on capacity building, especially in the electoral process, due to upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in 2014-15, the Permanent Representative of the Afghanistan Mission, Zahir Tanin, said at the event in New York.

“UNDP’s work in providing technical support is critical to ensure a credible, fair, and transparent electoral process. For UNDP it will also signal a good shift towards Afghan leadership and ownership,” he said. “There is a need for a continuous focus on capacity building in general, so that projects are sustainable.”

The UN Secretary General’s Deputy Special Representative in Afghanistan, Mark Bowden, said that the UN is moving towards a stronger programme with an emphasis on governance, capacity building and improving accountability. 

UNDP will ensure that its programmes and support are clearly aligned with the Afghan government priorities leading up to the transition period and beyond.

“UNDP is critical in ensuring that aid is being delivered in support of government reforms,” Mr. Bowden added.

The New York event – attended by Afghanistan donors, government representatives and United Nations officials – was also the occasion for the launch of the first-ever Afghanistan edition of UNDP Development Advocate, a collection of inspiring development success stories from UNDP’s work in Afghanistan.