By 2011, Canada expects that national, provincial and local institutions, particularly in Kandahar province, will exhibit an increasing capacity for democratic governance in the deliberation and delivery of public programs and services, carrying out democratic elections, and addressing concerns around the continuing prevalence of corruption.
Canada’s assistance in Afghanistan has focused on enabling the Government of Afghanistan to assume a greater level of leadership and ownership over its affairs. Equally important are Canada’s efforts to support Afghan civil society, which help to educate the Afghan people in holding the government accountable. This has been particularly important with respect to ensuring that the views of Afghan women are voiced and heard.
NSP allows men and women to decide together. It is the first time that women’s opinions have been asked about a project in the village. – Daikundi woman
Through the National Solidarity Program (NSP), Canada has contributed to the development of democratically elected CDCs across much of Afghanistan. Communities are provided with grants to undertake small-scale, locally relevant projects, such as road building and repair, and irrigation systems. The NSP has also played a key role in formalizing the role of women in the decision-making process. As noted by a woman from the province of Daikundi, “NSP allows men and women to decide together…It is the first time that women’s opinions have been asked about a project in the village.”
Canada has also supported Afghan leadership and ownership at the sub-national level by strengthening the ability of government officials in Kandahar province to deliver services and represent concerns of the province through the Afghanistan Sub-National Governance Program (ASGP). The ASGP works closely with the government, in particular, the Independent Directorate for Local Governance, to increase the effectiveness and inclusiveness of sub-national governance structures. Ultimately, an increased presence of government and a more effective bureaucracy will help improve service delivery to the Afghan people.
Under the ASGP, efforts continued to advance the Provincial Strategic Plan (PSP) process in five selected provinces, including Kandahar. Each of the 34 provinces is expected to have PSPs in place by 2013, which will serve as a strategic road map for each province, addressing governance, security and development issues, and needs. This quarter, provinces continued to collect, analyze and validate the required data in consultation with line departments. With efforts focused on building an effective government in key districts of Kandahar, through the ASGP and the District Delivery Program there is an increase in effective public dialogue, particularly in the Dand and Panjwayi districts.
Canada actively promotes human rights in Afghanistan and remains the largest donor to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC). Canada assumed the Chair of the AIHRC Donor Committee on January 1, 2011. As part of this role, Canada coordinates support to the AIHRC and helps to facilitate dialogue between the institution and stakeholders, including donors and the Government of Afghanistan. The AIHRC, which leads the country in the promotion and protection of human rights, continued to build on its leadership through activities such as human rights training and awareness sessions for 3,000 Afghans—including more than 1,000 women — in this quarter.
Over the past two years, thanks to the focused efforts of the whole-of-government team, Canada has witnessed the emergence of credible, legitimate Afghan governance within the district of Dand.
In May 2009, Dand was a semi-autonomous sub-district of Kandahar City. There was no permanent ISAF security presence and security was provided by a small police force that was present in only a few villages. Although Dand did not have any official governance responsibility, a small local government did exist and exerted a measure of authority over the semi-rural and rural areas to the south of Kandahar City. This unofficial government conducted much of its business using traditional shuras, or meetings of elders. The elders at these infrequent shuras were appointed, not elected, and represented only a small number of villages in Dand. The region did not have any formal linkages to the Government of Afghanistan line ministries whose support is vital to moving any Afghan program forward. All governance activity relied heavily on the energetic District Governor for progress. In his absence, nothing happened.
Over the past two years, an enduring and effective Afghan security presence, combined with Canadian governance mentorship and development programming, has facilitated the transformation of Dand from an unknown backwater into a recognized model for building Afghan leadership capacity.
Today Dand is a formal, recognized district of Afghanistan and its government has been transformed. New staff have been hired and the district council is becoming a more capable governance body that enjoys elected representation from all villages in the district. The numerous district sub-committees meet regularly, providing solutions to local issues. The range of changes in Dand has been extraordinary.
 Funded by CIDA and the Swiss Agency for International Development: A Study of Gender Equity Through the National Solidarity Programme’s Community Development Councils, Danish Committee for Aid to Afghan Refugees, October 2010