KABUL, Afghanistan, 4 November 2014 – UN-Habitat Afghanistan today launched the State of Afghan Cities (SoAC) Programme, co-organized by the Independent Directorate of Local Governance/General Directorate of Municipal Affairs. SoAC is a one-year initiative, generously funded by the Government of Australia, to be implemented by the Government of Afghanistan with technical support from UN-Habitat.
A key programme outcome will be a State of Afghan Cities 2014/15 Report. The Report will present a well-informed and action-oriented analysis of the state of urbanization across Afghanistan. It will include quantitative and qualitative city-based data as well as analyses of key national, provincial and municipal urban development issues in all 33 Provincial Municipalities of Afghanistan and Kabul.
The official launch of the State of Afghan Cities Programme was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Urban Development Affairs, the Independent Directorate of Local Governance, Kabul Municipality, the Government of Australia, Advisory Committee members, and UN-Habitat Afghanistan.
In his opening remarks H.E. Abdul Matin Bek, Deputy Minister for Administration and Finance at the Independent Directorate of Local Governance, highlighted the importance of the programme in not only producing a timely and valuable report but also in helping to strengthen the institutional knowledge capacity of ministries and municipalities to collect and analyze urban data and information for the betterment of the nation’s cities.
H.E. Hamid Jalil, Deputy Minister of Urban Development Affairs, emphasized the necessity of having access to reliable data and information sources for planning and management of the urban sector as outlined by the new Afghan President, Mr. Ashraf Ghani. As stated by H.E. Hamid Jalil, “Better urban planning and management will contribute to improved infrastructure, urban governance, employment generation, and the general well-being of Afghan citizens”.
Ms. Sally-Anne Vincent, Counsellor (Head of Development) of the Government of Australia, underlined that "The Government of Australia and UN-Habitat have a close and strong partnership, and Australia is proud to support this important programme". Ms Vincent referred to the rapid increase in the rate of urbanization in Afghanistan--now the highest in Asia. She stated “Given that urbanization provides us with both opportunities and challenges that need to be properly addressed, this programme will promote knowledge sharing among decision makers, leading to peace, security and development across Afghanistan.”
H.E. Abdul Ahad Wahid, Deputy Mayor of Kabul Municipality, appreciated the launching of the programme as it will contribute to improved collection of accurate data and information to be utilized for a number of programmes currently implemented in Kabul City. He noted that “This will help the master plan of Kabul City to be implemented with an emphasis on improved planning and management of the city, particularly promoting better urban mobility.”
In the final speech Mr. Peter Dalglish, Country Representative for UN-Habitat Afghanistan, thanked the Government of Australia and extended his congratulations to the Afghan government partners for their commitment to addressing the emerging challenges posed by urbanization and for drafting sound policies that will bring urban issues to the forefront of the national development agenda. He emphasized that UN-Habitat continues to work hand-in-hand with ministries, municipalities and communities to meet their collective needs.
The State of Afghan Cities Programme will contribute to sustainable urban development focusing on the implementation of a New Urban Agenda, one of the main objectives of the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) that will be held in 2016. This promotes the international community’s interest in global urbanization, and advocates greater cooperation among countries in meeting opportunities and challenges related to urbanization that will contribute to sustainable urban development around the world.
Following the programme launch, the First Technical Advisory Committee meeting was held to discuss and guide programme implementation with a broad range of members from the following organizations:
- -Ministry of Urban Development Affairs
- -Independent Directorate of Local Governance/General Directorate of Municipal Affairs
- -Kabul Municipality
- -Ministry of Finance
- -Central Statistics Organization
- -Afghan Urban Water Supply and Sewerage Corporation (AUWSSC)
- -Afghan Land Authority (ARAZI)
- -Afghan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU)
- -Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief and Development (ACBAR)
- -World Bank