18 April 2016, Kabul—The government of Afghanistan, with the technical assistance from UN-Habitat recently completed a series of workshops aimed at developing an Urban National Priority Programme (U-NPP).
The government held a series of consultation workshops across the country to reach relevant stakeholders and receive inputs with technical support from UN-Habitat as a part of the Future of Afghan Cities Programme funded by the Governments of Australia and the United Kingdom. After months of consultations, both at regional and national level, the government has completed the consultation process reaching more than 2,000 individuals; including 697 women.
The government sees cities as drivers of economic growth. The development of U-NPP or the ‘New Urban Agenda’ to shape up the urban future, is thus of great importance. Learning from the past lessons/experiences, the government of Afghanistan is following a two pronged approach to develop the Urban NPP – the intensive consultations with all urban stakeholders, and technical development of policy and programme guidelines with support from international experts.
The development of U-NPP is on track. Country wide consultations are held and completed all around the country. More than 2,000 people have been engaged through these consultations with 32% of them being women. The consultations included participants from all line ministries and departments, civil society, youth, women, academics, private sectors and international organizations among others. The consultation strategy was to engage with the stakeholders first through bilateral meetings to build awareness and consensus of the importance of an inclusive development of U-NPP, and then through workshops at regional and central level.
The consultation process is a significant change in the way the government works and cooperates. This is the first time in Afghanistan that an Urban National Priority Programme is being developed through a participatory process with extensive sub-national consultations. The consultation process, led by Ministry of Urban Development and Affairs (MUDA), Deputy Ministry of Municipalities (DMM) and ARAZI (Afghanistan’s Independent Land Authority), have improved coordination among urban sector organizations. Some of the consultations were attended by MUDA Minister, Mr. Sadat Naderi and Deputy Minister of DMM, Mr. Abdul Baqi Popal. The bottom-up approach, reaching the common people, also helped bridge the gap between the government and the communities. It restored confidence of the people in the government in knowing that government is taking actions to help the urban population. The prioritization of programmes based on recommendations from the people gives a strong message of the democracy and public representation in the government. It built trust.
The inputs received through these consultations have been very effective. People stating challenges about their cities and then recommending solutions for these challenges have been of great value to the U-NPP draft document. Inputs specific to women and youths have been particularly interesting and raise awareness among the government staff about the challenges they face every day.
UN-Habitat is proud to be involved in this process as government’s technical partner through its Future of Afghan Cities programme. The Future of Afghan Cities Programme (FoAC) is a one-year programme funded by the Governments of Australia and the United Kingdom. FoAC harnesses the opportunities and the momentum of the State of Afghan Cities 2014/15 Programme by providing technical assistance to MUDA, DMM, Kabul Municipality, and ARAZI with the preparation of the U-NPP. It also continues the State of Afghan Cities Programme (SoAC) approach, using an innovative methodology using satellite image analysis to examine the urban conditions in the five main city regions and 20 strategic District Municipalities. Some of the initial findings have been very interesting and support the U-NPP. Some of this information have been presented in the discussion papers.