Afghan mayors to strengthen capacity of municipalities
The mayors of Afghanistan’s 33 provincial capital municipalities took a giant step forward in their effort to professionalize and strengthen the capacity of municipal government in Afghanistan at the conclusion of a two-day national conference sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Strong Hubs for Afghan Hope and Resilience (SHAHAR) program on December 7 and 8, 2015.
A resolution was signed declaring the mayors’ intent to form the Afghanistan Municipal Network as the first step toward the eventual formation of the Afghanistan Municipal Association. Afghanistan’s Independent Directorate for Local Governance and its General Directorate for Municipal Affairs (GDMA) also hosted the conference and were parties to the conference resolution.
In describing the benefits of a municipal network, Abdul Baqi Popal, GDMA General Director, stated, “Creation of networks amongst municipalities will lead to experience sharing, consultation, collaboration, coordination and advocacy in policy development at national level. Moreover, municipalities will build their capacities by learning from each other.”
Worldwide, there has been a global trend towards the creation of local government or municipal associations to provide municipalities with a stronger voice and greater capacity to influence national legislative bodies and other governmental institutions at the national level in relation to shared interests, concerns and priorities. Municipal associations now operate in over 120 countries.
Municipal associations serve to strengthen the capacity of municipalities to meet citizen priorities and service delivery needs. They do so by performing four core services or functions on behalf of their membership: advocacy, information exchange, networking, and professional development.
Khoja Rohulla Seddiqi, Chaharikar Mayor, when asked his opinion regarding the establishment of the Municipal Network, replied, “Lack of a national network of municipalities has been an issue for mayors; through creation of provincial municipal networks, we can integrate programs, plans and implementation nationally that will lead to self-sustainability,” said Khoja Rohulla Seddiqi, Mayor of Chaharikar in Afghanistan’s Parwan Province.
Through its SHAHAR program, USAID will provide technical assistance and support to the Afghanistan Municipal Network, including an international association development advisor who will support the Network’s efforts to:1)- establish an effective governance structure, 2)- design a strategic plan, 3)- improve advocacy and coalition building skills, 4)- develop communications tools, and, 4)- identify and develop potential revenue sources.
The USAID SHAHAR program is a three-year initiative to create well-governed, fiscally sustainable Afghan municipalities capable of meeting the needs of a growing urban population.
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