FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions Posted Date: 03/06/2010

 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the National Solidarity Programme?
  2. How does the NSP help communities?
  3. What impact has the NSP made?
  4. How does the NSP build capacity at the community level?
  5. How do CDCs promote accountability and transparency?
  6. Do the CDCs encourage the involvement of women at the community level?
  7. What are the objectives of the NSP?
  8. Who have been the major development and implementation partners of the NSP?
  9. What is the target population served by the NSP?
  10. What has made the NSP successful?
  11. What outcomes has the NSP achieved?
  12. What is the most important achievement of the NSP to date?
  13. What have been the most significant obstacles encountered by NSP?
  14. What is the NSP's most significant remaining shortcoming?

  1. What is the National Solidarity Programme?
    The National Solidarity Programme (NSP) was created by the Government of Afghanistan to develop the ability of Afghan communities to identify, plan, manage and monitor their own development projects. NSP empowers communities to make decisions and manage resources during all stages of the project cycle. The programme lays the foundation for a sustainable form of inclusive local governance, rural reconstruction, and poverty alleviation.

    Established in mid-2003, the National Solidarity Programme (NSP) is the primary vehicle used to promote rural development in Afghanistan. Through the promotion of good local governance, the NSP works to empower rural communities to make decisions affecting their own lives and livelihoods. Empowered rural communities collectively contribute to increased human security. The programme is inclusive, supporting entire communities including the poorest and most vulnerable people.

    The NSP aims to empower Afghans to reduce poverty through establishing and strengthening a national network of self-governing community institutions. The flexible and responsive design of the NSP has allowed it to be a main conduit of central government poverty reduction and reconstruction policies, permitting local people to actively participate in local administration through the formation of Community Development Councils (CDCs). Through CDCs the people of Afghanistan are building on shared vision, and values, and democratically-decided priorities to create a healthy and sustainable nation.

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  2. How does the NSP help communities?
    The NSP builds capacity at the community level to enhance the competence of CDC male and female members in terms of financial management, procurement, technical skills, and transparency. Once the CDC has been elected, an inclusive and innovative inductive model is followed to develop a Community Development Plan (CDP). Formulating a CDP is an exercise that allows the CDC to map out its development requirements and prioritize them. Subproject proposals are then developed to apply for funding.

    The NSP provides direct Block Grant transfers to a bank account established by the CDCs to support rehabilitation and development activities planned and implemented by the elected CDCs. The funding takes the form of Block Grants which are calculated at US$200 per family with an average grant of US$ 33,500 and maximum of US$ 60,000 per community. Portions of the Block Grant are released for procurement and phased implementation of the approved subproject(s).

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  3. What impact has the NSP made?
    The transformation brought about by the National Solidarity Programme (NSP) has made it possible, for the first time in Afghanistan for decision-making power and control over certain resources to be managed by the local population. This has changed the way in which the Government of Afghanistan conducts itself, and perhaps even more importantly, the way people are now shaping the decision-making process.

    A World Bank evaluation in June 2006 concluded that returns on NSP investments in the communities have been high and immediate. Based upon their findings, the Government, World Bank and other joint donors were willing to fund an upscaling of NSP untill 2015 to " lay the foundations for strengthening of community level governance, and to support community-managed subprojects comprising reconstruction and development that improve access of rural communities to social and productive infrastructure and services".

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  4. How does the NSP build capacity at the community level?
    Capacity building at the community level manifests itself in many forms. FPs provide training to the CDCs in a variety of skills such as procurement, financial management of funds and conflict resolution, thereby increasing inclusive decision-making and holding the CDC members accountable for all subproject expenditures. This has provided important lessons increasing efficiency in subsequent subproject identification and allowed marginalised groups greater voice than before.

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  5. How do CDCs promote accountability and transparency?
    Community Development Plans are prepared and finalized and subprojects are selected through extensive public consultations with community members. Transparency in block grant utilization is ensured by informing community members on expenditures through public notice board and in large meetings both during and after implementation. The establishment of procurement, project management, monitoring committees contribute to greater transparency and accountability. An important aspect emphasised in the NSP financial and operational manuals is the social audit, which acts as 'tool' for transparency and accountability of CDCs to the larger community.

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  6. Do the CDCs encourage the involvement of women at the community level?
    The NSP continues to encourage an environment for strengthening gender equity that was started with the creation of female CDC subcommittees. In many communities cultural norms do not make it possible for men and women to meet. Women's voices were largely unheard in the past and their priorities were often ignored. Female members of the CDCs and/or women's subcommittees have given women a forum to meet, exchange ideas and formulate their priorities. At least one project per community financed from NSP must have been prioritized by the women. The role of women in CDCs (e.g. number of female members, role in CDP formulation, number of projects implemented by a women's sub-committee, etc.) is being monitored by the FPs.

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  7. What are the objectives of the NSP?
    The key objective of NSP is to build, strengthen and maintain Community Development Counncils (CDCs) as effective institutions for local gvernance and social-economic development. 

    The methodology chosen to strengthen community governance is the democratically elected Community Development Councils (CDCs) who, through the use of community-managed reconstruction and development subprojects, improve their access to social and productive infrastructure and services. NSP is a programme of the Government of Afghanistan, implemented by the Ministry for Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD). CDCs are assisted by 33 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) inculding one UN agency (UN-Habitat), together known as Facilitating Partners (FPs), operating in 373 of a total of 408 districts and provincial centers, throughout all 34 provinces of the country within which the programme is carried out.

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  8. Who have been the major development and implementation partners of the NSP?
    As the GoA's main instrument for restoring and reconstructing the village social and economic infrastructure, the NSP was established with initial support from the World Bank/International Development Association (WB/IDA) and continues with the support of the IDA and several other donors either bilaterally or through the Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF). With the assistance of 31 FPs inculding one UN agency (UN-Habitat), CDCs are operating or being established in 373 of a total of 408 districts and provincial centers, throughout all 34 provinces of the country.

    The FPs facilitate a process of establishing inclusive, voluntary community institutions through CDCs using democratic elections, reaching consensus on development priorities, developing eligible investment proposals, and implementing community projects. FPs provide training and support to communities to enable them to participate fully in the programme. Each agency brings its own expertise to the programme. CDCs are a proven means for donors and Facilitating Partners to contribute sustainable resources and mentorship to Afghan communities.

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  9. What is the target population served by the NSP?
    The overall objective of the National Solidarity Programme (NSP) is to implement its programme for the entire rural population of Afghanistan with an emphasis on inclusion of women, allowing heightened perceptions of community governance.

    In the past, an average NSP community comprises 150 families, each of which has an average of six members. Going by the current estimates that the total population of Afghanistan is 32 million and around 80% of this population comprises rural population, the target population to be reached by NSP is approximately 25.6 million persons. Taking into account the ground realities of inaccessibility due to security and seasonal weather conditions in some rural communities, NSP aims to cover as many of these rural communities as possible in the time allocated.


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  10. What has made the NSP successful?
    The essence of the community-driven approach is the conviction that villages should and can take responsibility for their own development. CDCs are seen by the community as their legitimate representatives who have been elected by secret ballot - such local elections had never before been organized in Afghanistan. This has resulted in many CDCs being comprised of younger men and women who traditionally would not have been heard in the communities. Through the CDCs, international donor support helps ensure the economic development of Afghan villages and the democratic empowerment and security of its people.

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  11. What outcomes has the NSP achieved?
    There are four important outcomes of the NSP: (i) improvement of social cohesion by enhancing collective decision-making and action, (ii) improvement of the socio-economic welfare of the population, (iii) empowerment of the population, especially inclusion of women in the decision-making process, and (iv) improvement in community's trust towards the Government, where the Government had to win its legitimacy by delivering tangible results in a timely manner.

    The NSP underwent a World Bank (WB) review mission in May 2006 which reviewed (i) the implementation status of the on-going NSP, (ii) the government proposal to expand the NSP, and (iii) and options for mainstreaming income generating activities in the current phase of NSP. The WB found NSP's implementation progress" highly satisfactory" .

    A Mid-term evaluation carried out by the University of York concluded "the benefits of the NSP justify the overhead costs of the Programme" and "The NSP is now recognized both by the people of Afghanistan and the international community as the central policy instrument for Afghan state building and development".

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  12. What is the most important achievement of the NSP to date?
    The single most important achievement to date is the creation of mechanisms for local governance and decision making. The community empowerment that has taken place manifests itself through the rapid absorption of NSP funding and the mobilization of additional resources. The broad-based introduction of an alternative decision making process at the lowest community level represents a form of government at its most basic form; one that the central government and the international community have envisioned for Afghanistan. The introduction of democratically elected community decision -making bodies as a viable alternative to the traditional local governance structure has provided a vehicle to re-build the social fabric and relationships at grassroots level.

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  13. What have been the most significant obstacles encountered by NSP?
    The two most significant obstacles faced by the National Solidarity Programme (NSP) are:
    Security (i.e. lack of access to insecure areas): due to the ongoing conflict in some provinces of the country, it has been difficult to contract Facilitating Partners and for these FPs to gain access to a number of communities. This has resulted in a slow pace of programme implementation.

    Funding (the lack of timely and adequate financial resources): the process of raising government revenue and building confidence with the international community to channel international aid though the state apparatus has taken some time to achieve. Donor commitments continue to arrive well behind schedule, and as only a fraction of overall pledges made at international development forums.

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  14. What is the NSP's most significant remaining shortcoming?
    The CDC By-Law, which defines the legal roles of the community and its representatives and recognizes CDCs as the constitutionally based, democratically elected development body at community level, was officially approved by His Excellency Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, in November 2006. Although the CDC By-Law offers a framework within which the CDC can legitimately operate, the greatest shortcoming of the NSP at this moment is the absence of an overall government policy to internalize CDC service provision beyond MRRD.

    Consideration at the highest levels must be given to potential opportunities for incremental sustainability of CDCs through, amongst other actions, the devolution of a fiscal policy allowing CDCs access to government-generated revenue as a continued resource for funding development activities.

    This would be the beginning of a reduced dependency upon external financial resources and the establishment of sustainable economic activities to further enhance rural incomes while ensuring greater coordination of appropriate service delivery at community level.

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