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WB provides further US$75m grant for NSP.

KABUL (PAN): The World Bank on Tuesday approved an additional US$75 million grant for Afghanistan to help improve its local governance at grassroots level and build rural infrastructure. "The additional grant will support the continuation of Afghanistans National Solidarity Program (NSP), which is part of the governments broader effort to forge national unity and rebuild Afghanistan from the bottom up," the WB said in a statement issued here on Wednesday.

In 2003, the Afghan government made a concerted effort to address state building and local governance, while responding to an urgent need to provide basic infrastructure to the rural population through the NSP.

The NSP quickly became one of the most successful national priority programs, supporting local governance building and rural infrastructure rehabilitation, such as irrigation, rural roads, electrification, and drinking water supply,the release added. The success of the program is attributable to its principles of grassroots democracy, said Qazi Azmat Isa, World Bank's senior rural development specialist and project team leader.

The additional financing will help bridge a funding gap and enable completion of community project activities that have already been identified by the communities themselves.

It will be crucial to enable continuation of the program to strengthen community level governance in Afghanistan, and to improve the access of rural communities to social and productive infrastructure," Isa said Since inception, the program has had remarkable achievements despite great challenges, including security. Between early-May 2003 and April 2009, the NSP has reached over 19 million Afghans.

Over 22,000 communities have been mobilized, with 99 percent of them successfully electing Community Development Councils (CDCs).

These CDCs are established through the assistance of 29 NSP Facilitating Partners who mobilize the community,facilitate elections and community development planning through community consultation, assist in project preparation and implementation, and also provide capacity building to CDC members. Approximately 42,923 CDC subprojects had been partially or fully financed, of which some 26,882 subprojects have been completed.

The community subprojects financed under the NSP focus on social, productive and economic infrastructure and are based on the priorities of the rural population.

Of the currently funded community subprojects, 24 percent address water and sanitation issues; 16 percent rehabilitate or develop irrigation systems;24 percent improve transportation infrastructure (e.g. roads, bridges); 15 percent provide energy (e.g. micro-hydro,); 5 percent improve livelihoods and income-generation; 14 percent work on education infrastructure and 2 percent go towards other investments.

The NSP is active in 359 of Afghanistans 364 districts and all of Afghanistans 34 provinces.

Building and consolidating success achieved so far to ensure the sustainability of the program will require firm commitment by the government and the international community.

To this end,preparation for the third phase of the program (NSP III) is expected to begin soon. Preparation of the third phase will include,among other activities,a review on the sustainability of the CDCs and their role in the sub-national governance agenda of Afghanistan.

The World Bank is one of the main sources of financing for the NSP. With this additional grant, the total World Banks support for NSP totals about US$381 million.

Other sources include the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF).

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Publication:Pajhwok Afghan News (Kabul, Afghanistan)
Geographic Code:0BANK
Date:May 14, 2009
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