Progress Achieved through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund
More than 30 years of armed conflict and ethnic tensions have left large parts of Afghanistan’s infrastructure destroyed. Efforts to expand electricity and water supplies, schools and hospitals have only extended to certain areas of the country, and these services do not meet the needs of the population. A great deal of construction work has been carried out in recent years. Numerous investment programmes are yet to be implemented as the Afghan state is still unable to fund them independently from its own budget.
In 2016, Afghanistan generated EUR 1.7 billion in revenue. Despite the increase in state revenue, some 70% of the budget is still funded from external sources. A key instrument in this regard is the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), which is funded by over 30 donor countries.
The programme seeks to assist with stabilising the Afghan state and thereby contribute to reducing poverty. By providing financial support, it intends to help ensure the proper functioning of the civil service and thereby guarantee basic social services and support the implementation of the Afghan Government’s development priorities. The intention is to enable the country to generate greater revenues by improving general economic conditions and the tax system and implementing a transparent system of governance under the rule of law. The long-term goal is for Afghanistan to finance its own budget independently of external subsidies and deploy budgetary funding efficiently and with a focus on development. Additionally, the ARTF offers a platform for political dialogue between the international community and the Afghan Government.
Measures & Results
Since 2002, the German Government has contributed to the ARTF, having provided EUR 583 million to date (not counting the pending EUR 80 million for 2017). This makes it one of the principal donors to the fund, which is managed by the World Bank. Working through the ARTF, the international donor community is supporting the Afghan Government to enable it to carry out its tasks and implement the national development strategy. A total of 20 active projects are currently being financed from the fund in a number of areas, including rural development, agriculture, infrastructure, good governance and human development. One example is the Education Quality Improvement Program (EQUIP) which aims to improve access to quality education. The fact that almost nine million children now attend school is a testimony to its effectiveness. Work is also been done to support secondary schools and develop appropriate curricula. The National Solidarity Programme has also assisted Community Development Councils (CDCs) throughout the country to implement government and socio-economic development processes in rural regions. The System Enhancement for Health Action in Transition (SEHAT) project works in 22 provinces to support the construction, renovation and fitting out of health facilities and the training of health care specialists, thereby helping to raise health care standards in the affected areas of the country. An overview of all ARTF-funded programmes is available here: http://www.artf.af/
Launched in 2016, the Citizens’ Charter Afghanistan Project seeks to reduce poverty and boost citizens’ confidence in the Afghan Government by improving public services for all Afghans. In this way, it hopes to curb fragility and violence in the country. For example, it aims to ensure access to clean drinking water for 3.4 million people by 2020.
More than 9.3 million individuals are currently benefiting from the measures financed by the fund. Thanks to the funding initiatives, many Afghans are able to access electricity and water supplies, attend an educational institution and take advantage of job creation measures.