Briefing

William A Byrd

Afghanistan has made major albeit uneven development progress since 2001 – high economic growth, improvements in social indicators, some investments in government institutions and infrastructure, but weaker performance in agriculture and the urban sector, and deteriorating governance.

Farmers collecting wheat seed in Helmand. Photo: SAC Neil Chapman (RAF)/MOD/DFIDFarmers collecting wheat seed in Helmand. Photo: SAC Neil Chapman (RAF)/MOD/DFID

Summary

  • Afghanistan has made major albeit uneven development progress since 2001 – high economic growth, improvements in social indicators, some investments in government institutions and infrastructure, but weaker performance in agriculture and the urban sector, and deteriorating governance.
     
  • Where progress has been achieved, the ingredients of success have been effective Afghan leadership and management teams in key ministries; ‘political space’ for them to take forward development initiatives; and containment of corruption in the sectors and activities concerned. However, political space for development has shrunk in recent years with the consolidation of an entrenched political elite and worsening corruption.
     
  • The new Afghan administration may have a window of opportunity to arrest negative trends and restore or expand political space for development. Conducive political incentives, longer time horizons, and the appointment of competent, empowered leadership and management teams in key ministries will be crucial in this regard.
     
  • The international community will need to support and help nurture political space for development and facilitate the necessary prioritization of increasingly limited aid resources. The Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework could, through a focused set of policies and actions, provide a foundation to support progress, secure international funding and constructively hold the new Afghan government accountable for its commitments.