The United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-Habitat, is the United Nations agency for human settlements. It is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable communities, towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all. The main documents outlining the mandate of the organization are the Vancouver Declaration on Human Settlements, Habitat Agenda, Istanbul Declaration on Human Settlements, the Declaration on Cities and Other Human Settlements in the New Millennium, and Resolution 56/206.
By working at all levels and with all relevant stakeholders and partners, the agency contributes to linking policy development and capacity-building activities with a view to promoting cohesive and mutually reinforcing social, economic, environmental and countries’ policies and programmes in human settlements in conformity with international practices and covenants.
The United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-Habitat, has been working within Afghanistan since 1992 with funding support of USAID, Japanese and Australian Governments, EU, DFID, CIDA, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Kingdom of the Netherlands and several bilateral donors as well as the World Bank. During this period, its Programme expanded to include a wide range of human settlements initiatives, from small-scale neighbourhood level improvement schemes to community empowerment.
UN-Habitat has been assisting the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan through a number of projects, both urban and rural, supported by different donors:
UN-Habitat rolls out its community-driven development projects to major regional cities such as Kabul, Kandahar, Jalalabad, Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif to continue supporting deliver effective services to their population in the longer term. Through the Community-Based Municipal Support Programme (CB-MSP), UN-Habitat will demonstrate a combination of delivering basic services, empowering community people and strengthening local government who will take over and initiate further delivering services to the people in the near future. By building the capacity of municipal structures and its staff in engineering, community mobilization, and in increasing transparency and accountability of finance and administration, the Project will enable them to be responsive to access to national funds to be transferred from line ministries to deliver and manage development projects in a technically effective and efficient manner.
UN-Habitat is supporting the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) to implement the National Solidarity Programme (NSP). Currently UN-Habitat is directly engaged in facilitating this programme in more than 20 districts of nine provinces. UN-Habitat is partner with the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock to take up the role of Facilitating Partner in implementing the On-Farm Water Management project in the establishment of irrigation associations in 2 provinces (Bamyan and Nangarhar), out of five provinces covered by OFWM Project, and contributes in improving agricultural productivity.
The Local Integration of Vulnerable and Excluded Uprooted People (LIVE-UP) programme is funded by the European Union and operates for three years (1 January 2015 - 31 December 2017). The overarching intention of the programme is to support the implementation of part of the National Policy on Internally Displaced Persons in three Afghan cities: Herat, Jalalabad and Kabul. The programme will support communities, local authorities and the central Government to achieve durable solutions for local reintegration of returnees and IDPs through community empowerment, improved living conditions and security of land tenure. The project also aims to strengthen the role and capacity of local authorities, particularly Municipalities, to assist returnees, IDPs and other vulnerable urban dwellers with local integration.
The Afghanistan Urban Peacebuilding Programme (AUPP) funded by Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Kingdom of the Netherlands, operates for three years (1 April 2015 - 31 March 2018) predicated on the vital linkage between state-society relations, local government capacity, and basic service provision in strengthening safety and security. It will provide direct assistance to the development of state capacity at the sub-national level, focusing on municipal administrations in eight of the country’s most strategic cities.
By concentrating on the urban terrain of peacebuilding and state building, the programme will strengthen the production of public goods, especially security; improve local government responsiveness and accountability; and strengthen partnerships with communities, civil society, and security providers, contributing to collective efficacy– all of which are central peacebuilding and state building goals in the New Deal. The programme complements the international community’s efforts to support a highly centralized state building approach, with a bottom-up strategy that builds the state out from community and subnational levels.
The expected impact of the AUPP is: "Women and men, girls and boys, in cities have increased trust in the local government’s capacity to uphold rights, achieve safe, secure and inclusive cities, contributing to improved government legitimacy".
Community-led Urban Infrastructure Programme (CLUIP) funded by Government of Japan, aims at securing and stabilizing urban areas across 5 cities (Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, Kandahar, Herat and Jalalabad) with partnership of Municipalities of Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, Kandahar, Herat and Jalalabad, Communities of these cities and Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) by responding to the urgent needs of recently displaced people, demobilized combatants, and returnees through community empowerment, enhancing their access to basic services, and improving their livelihoods thereby enabling them to live in dignity. This Project comprises of the following three components:
Component 1: Upgrading of underserviced areas to avoid disillusions and frustrations and reduce the risk that those households are falling back in illicit and insurgent activities through the establishment of Community Development Councils (CDCs).
Component 2: Respond to the needs of larger areas compared through Gozar Assemblies (GAs). The GAs will facilitate to build solidarity and sustainable peace in a cluster of CDCs by enhancing improved access to basic infrastructure services considered by GAs as their top priorities.
Component 3: Implementation community empowerment programs for both men and women to assist urban communities at CDC and GA level.
UN-Habitat rolls out a Municipal Governance Support Programme (MGSP), funded by EU in nine cities: Kabul (the capital); Herat, Jalalabad, Kandahar, and Mazar-e-Sharif (Grade A cities); and Kunduz and Farah (Grade B); and Bamyan and Nili (smaller but fast-growing and strategic cities). The Programme will support these nine municipal authorities to survey and register all properties within municipal boundaries (for Kabul: one districts/Nahia). This will improve land management (e.g. increase tenure security and reduce land grabbing) as well as significantly expand the potential tax base for municipalities. To facilitate the strategic and sustainable use of local revenues, the Programme will support municipalities to undertake strategic urban planning at municipal level to promote Local Economic Development (LED), stimulate investment and expand inclusive service delivery. The process will be driven by local stakeholders and focus on linking urban planning with finance (public and private investments) to ensure plans are realistic and actually implemented. As Afghanistan is rapidly urbanizing, such strategic planning is an essential tool for managing urban growth and expanding access to services in already crowded and largely-informal cities.
The Programme will also improve the enabling environment for municipal governance by providing technical support to central government-level authorities, including the General Directorate of Municipal Affairs (GDMA), the Afghan Land Authority (ARAZI), and Ministry of Urban Development Affairs (MUDA), to improve national policies, legislation and guidelines.
The Future of Afghan Cities (FoAC) which is being generously supported by the Government of Australia and UK (DFID), will harness the opportunities, momentum and success of SoAC 2014/15 by providing technical assistance to MUDA, IDLG/GDMA, Kabul Municipality, and the Afghan Land Authority (ARAZI) with the preparation of the National Urban Priority Programme (U-NPP), and undertaking an assessment of five key city regions of Kabul, Herat, Mazar, Kandahar and Jalalabad.