COMMUNITY ELECTIONS IN RURAL AFGHANISTAN

Friedrich W. AFFOLTER, S. Zabihollah SAWAYZ, Hamida NOORI, Binod S. SHRESTHA


Friedrich W. Affolter, Ed.D., Education Advisor of UN-HABITAT Afghanistan (Kabul, Afghanistan)

S. Zabihollah Sawayz, M.Sc., Member of the Science Academy of Kabul, Chief Technical Advisor for UN-HABITATs Literacy and Community Empowerment Program (LCEP) (Kabul, Afghanistan)

Hamida Noori, MD, Gender Advisor for UN-HABITAT Afghanistan (Kabul, Afghanistan)

Binod S. Shrestha, M.Sc., worked as UN-HABITATs Rural Program Advisor, now leads the UN-HABITAT Banda Aceh Program (Kabul, Afghanistan)


Introduction

One of the major rural reconstruction and local governance capacity development initiatives of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is the National Solidarity Program (NSP). This community empowerment program, which receives financial support from the World Bank and several other international donors, was initiated in 2002.

NSP is in essence a community-driven development program that distributes blockgrants for community-owned rehabilitation projects, and governance learning. One distinguishing feature of NSP is that communities interested in joining the program first must elect a Community Development Council (CDC), locally referred to as shura. Once the CDC is established, it is being entrusted by the Government to spearhead socioeconomic development initiatives at the community level.

Rarely before in the history of Afghanistanwhere illiteracy is highhave rural Afghans (neither men nor certainly women) experienced or participated in secret ballot (one man/women, one vote) elections. The Governments decision to include rural communities in


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