A Cranfield University project to enhance local governance processes and build confidence in formal governance mechanisms in Afghanistan.
The four-year project raised the performance of both formal and informal governance institutions operating at the sub-national level in four provinces of Afghanistan.
It achieves this through training, awareness-raising and action-learning projects designed to enhance the capability, accountability and responsiveness of these institutions.
The Resilient Governance Initiative (RGI) was developed in collaboration with local partner AIMTEIC in Kabul.
It was funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) though the Governance and Transparency Fund and sought to examine the DFID’s Capability, Accountability and Responsiveness (CAR) Framework from an Afghanistan’s perspective.
Impact of our research
The target audience of RGI includes provincial government-level departments, community development councils (informal governance structure on village level), civil society bodies and the private sector.
The Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development was a key stakeholder, yet at the centre of RGI’s activities were ordinary citizens with which the programme engaged in order to foster self-reliance and human rights, citizens’ participation and influence over common planning processes, and reducing the isolation of communities.
Between 2008 to 2012, the RGI covered four provinces, four districts, 48 semi-urban districts and around 100 rural target areas (villages). Some 5,000 individuals – representing the state, civil society and private sector organizations – have directly benefited from the project.
Why the research was commissioned
On behalf of DFID, the RGI was established to raise the performance of both formal and informal governance institutions operating at the sub-national level in four provinces of Afghanistan through:
- action-learning designed to enhance the capability
- accountability and responsiveness of these institutions.
The goal of the project was to develop credible governance institutions that respect human rights and social justice, and which facilitate effective, equitable and sustainable poverty reduction in rural areas.
The project focused on a number of areas, including:
- fostering self-reliance and human rights
- citizens’ participation and influence over common planning processes
- reducing the isolation of communities by encouraging the formation of inter-institutional linkages, particularly between state institutions and civil society.
Having worked previously with AIMTEIC on mine action programmes in Afghanistan, we were able to use this partnership to establish critical linkages for the project; not just in Kabul, but also at provincial and district levels.
Having a trusted local partner also allowed us to accommodate governance training specifically sensitive to the Afghan context and with appropriate cultural, political and religious awareness.
Our proposal to work on state-civil society participation (by encouraging decentralised practices of governance and promoting the understanding of what governance is at the policy makers level) was aligned in tackling issues using the ‘hooks’ stipulated by the CAR Framework.
Cranfield offered sustainability to the project by creating human capacities (both theoretical and practical) at all levels and within all governance actors. Our training sessions in Kabul then in the province, district and village (consisting of joint efforts of the project team with that of MRRD) were to ensure the creation of expertise in good governance at all levels.
We are keen to undertake similar projects elsewhere and would be open to proposals.