Photo: World Bank
Developing countries struggle to improve quality of their service delivery. Citizens also find it difficult to hold the government and other service providers accountable because they lack the know-how on the procedures and expectations that govern service providers’ performances. In addition to the disconnect it creates between citizens and service providers, its lack of responsibility hinders governmental effectiveness and creates a room for corrupt practices. Therefore, as part of good governance, it’s imperative to put a system in place to provide citizens with the information they need to challenge and hold those who are involved in service delivery accountable for delivering the intended results (1).
Citizen Charters (CCs) are public agreements between citizens and service providers that clearly systemize expectations and standards in the realm of service providers. Introduced by the UK in the early 1990s, CCs are now being used in a wide range of countries including the United States, Kenya, India, Jamaica, and Mexico are notable among these programmes – to improve the quality of service delivery and enhance public sector management (2).
The Citizens’ Charter Afghanistan Project (CAPP) is a National Priority Programme (NPP) of the National Unity Government (NUG) designed and launched on 25 September at a ceremony attended by over 400 representatives from donor communities, international organizations, and local Community Development Councils (CDCs) (World Bank, 2016). The Citizens Charter is the first ever inter-ministerial, multi-sectoral NPP, where ministries have collaborated on a single program, with presidential oversight. The key service delivery ministries involved are Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD), Ministry of Education (MoE), Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (MAIL), with oversight by Ministry of Finance (MoF). MRRD has a key role and will be responsible for the infrastructural development and strengthening CDCs and Cluster CDCs (World Bank, 2018). Thus, the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development and the Independent Directorate of Local Governance are the main implementing agencies for the rural and urban areas (1).
The CCAP was built on the successful community development initiatives undertaken under the National Solidarity Programme (NSP) in the past 13 years. The Charter is a commitment of partnership between the state and the communities, which is to provide all citizens in Afghanistan with basic services, based on community prioritization. The project will support the first phase of the Government of Afghanistan’s 10-year Citizens’ charter National Priority Program and will target one-third of the country in all 34 provinces. The project aims to reduce poverty and enhance living standards by improving the delivery of core infrastructure and social services to participating communities through strengthened Community Development Councils (CDCs). These services are part of a minimum service standards package that the government is committed to delivering to the citizens of Afghanistan (World Bank, 2018).
Citizens’ Charter Afghanistan Project will seek to address key limitations of line agency efforts and National Solidarity Programme (NSP) to date and respond to financial constraints to national development investments. First, it will bring the rural and urban community level work together under one umbrella. Second, consolidating service delivery under the citizens’ Charter brings many advantages to Afghanistan’s development planning. There will be increased emphasis on linking CDCs with local government institutions and ministries following a systems-based rather than project-based approach.
The CCAP which will run over four years is planned to have a total budget of $628 million. The Ministry of Finance and the World Bank, as the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) administrator, signed a Financing Agreement of $400 million provided by donors through ARTF. The government co-financed $128 million from its own resources. The remaining $100 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA), is approved by the World Bank Board of Executive Directors (2)
The project comprises four components (Afghanistan, 2016);
- Service standard grants will support two types of grants to CDCs: (i) rural areas service standard grants, and (ii) urban areas block grants.
- Institution building CCAP aims to build strong Afghan institutions from national to local levels, capable of planning and managing their own development. This component will support capacity building; technical assistance, and community facilitation services.
- Monitoring and knowledge learning includes learning activities from village to national levels, exchange visits across communities, especially for women, and support for thematic studies and evaluations.
- Project implementation and management; will support the management and oversight of CCAP at the national, provincial and district levels in rural areas and the municipal management units in the four regional hub cities.
In recent years, World Bank support for Community Driven Development (CDD) has increasingly focused on creating national platforms to enhance service delivery and address poverty. The program aims to reach 8.5 million in its first phase, providing people access to basic services for water, roads, irrigation, electricity, and monitoring of education and health services. The project works through a participatory community-driven development approach aimed at increasing citizen satisfaction and trust in government. The inauguration of the CCAP marks the end of the National Solidarity Programme (NSP), through which mobilized almost $2.05 billion and worked through more than 35,000 community elected Community Development Councils (CDCs) in all 34 provinces of the country to finance over 88,000 community-level infrastructure programs in the areas of water supply and sanitation, rural roads, irrigation, power, health, and education. The CDCs played a major role in implementing rural projects and solving conflict and problems in their communities (3).
According to the World Bank, under the CCAP, the CDCs will be entrusted with even greater responsibilities. Through the project, they will work to reduce poverty and bring prosperity to their communities. Each CDC will implement development projects of the ministries of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, Agriculture and Livestock, Health, and Education.
Parallel to the work that rural CDCs will carry out, urban community development councils, created under the municipality framework by the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG), will also implement environmental and greening projects, roads and drainage improvements, women’s livelihood projects, and potable water and electricity provision in their communities. Both urban and rural development councils are responsible for monitoring project implementation, maintenance, and accountability, as well as building relations with the government. In addition to overseeing implementation of infrastructure projects, CDCs will monitor and report upon service delivery from other line ministries at the community level (4).
The CCAP will require 50 percent of the CDC to be women. The councils themselves will be responsible to ensure equal share and participation of women in their structures and activities. Due to the CDCs rich experiences in program implementation and local governance for the last ten years, there is a reasonable expectation that the CDCs will implement the projects more efficiently.
Most of the country’s population live in rural villages and are facing various challenges such as lack of health services, poor quality education, minimal access to power, poor water facilities, lack of economic opportunities and others. Insecurity is the biggest challenge that threatens the smooth implementation of the program throughout the country. However, if the security situation improves, the implementation of the program can be possible in turbulent areas. All the parties involved are hoping peace and security to be restored so that the programs are implemented in a peaceful atmosphere.
The World Bank. (2018, January 16). Flagship Afghan Rural Program Lays Strong Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2018/01/16/flagship-afghan-rural-program-lays-strong-foundation-for-future
The World Bank. (2016, October 10). Afghanistan Government Inaugurates Citizens’ Charter to Target Reform and Accountability. Retrieved from http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2016/10/10/government-inaugurates-citizens-charter-to-target-reform-and-accountability
The World Bank. Citizen Charters: Enhancing Service Delivery through Accountability. Retrieved from http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/543241468135929562/pdf/638900BRI0Citi00Box0361531B0PUBLIC0.pdf
The Republic of Afghanistan. (2016, December). Citizens’ Charter National Priority Programme http://policymof.gov.af/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Citizens%E2%80%99-Charter-Program.pdf