Mayors take the first step toward formation of a National Union of Afghan Municipalities
Mayors from Afghanistan’s 33 provincial capital municipalities will attend the Second Annual National Mayors’ Conference in Kabul on August 28 and 29. Funded by USAID through its Strong Hubs for Afghan Hope and Resilience (SHAHAR) project, the conference is the follow-on to the First Annual National Mayors’ Conference. Afghanistan’s Independent Directorate for Local Governance (IDLG) and its Deputy Ministry of Municipalities (DMM) hosted both conferences.
At the end of the First Annual Mayors’ Conference, held in December 2015, also sponsored by USAID SHAHAR, all the Mayors in attendance (as well as DMM representatives) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and agreed to establish the Afghanistan National Municipalities Network as the first step toward the eventual formation of a National Union of Afghan Municipalities. The Second Conference provided a platform to the Mayors and others to reunite and share best practices of municipal governance that will play an important role in creating the National Union.
In his remarks, President Ghani praised the assembled mayors saying, “He had appointed 21 of the mayors because he saw greatness in them.” The President also added, “The municipalities could generate adequate revenues for the delivery of municipal services and remarked the country would not need foreign aid for municipal services if revenues are properly utilized.”
“I am happy to report that USAID is currently supporting the government to form a national union of municipalities that will represent a critical turning point in the history and evolution of sub-national governance in Afghanistan. A national union of municipalities will help increase public trust and confidence in the capacity of the municipalities to better respond to needs of all Afghans,” said USAID/Afghanistan’s Acting Mission Director John Cardenas, in a video message.
There has been a worldwide trend toward the creation of municipal unions and associations to provide municipalities with a stronger voice and greater capacity to influence legislative bodies and national governmental institutions regarding shared interests, concerns and priorities. Municipal unions and associations now operate in over 120 countries. Regardless of country context, institutional age, resources or political systems, all municipal unions aim 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.
The $73.5 million USAID SHAHAR program is a three-year (2014-2017) initiative to create well-governed, fiscally sustainable Afghan municipalities capable of meeting the needs of a growing urban population.
With almost $17 billion spent on development programs in Afghanistan since 2002, USAID provides the largest bilateral civilian assistance program to Afghanistan. USAID partners with the government and people of Afghanistan to ensure economic growth led by the country’s private sector, establish a democratic and capable state governed by the rule of law, and provide basic health and education services for all Afghans.
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