The Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) within the Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD) Sector Strategy, contributes to the reduction of poverty through the establishment of good local governance, access to rural infrastructure, economic regeneration and the provision of a nationwide disaster and emergency preparedness system. This strategy, however, directly contributes to the achievement of Afghanistan’s Millennium Development Goals.
In view of this, the government formulated the National Emergency Employment Program (NEEP), a flagship program for creating short-term employment through restoration of the dilapidated rural infrastructure. After paving the way to other employment generation initiatives to emerge, NEEP evolved in the National Rural Access Program (NRAP) from 2005 up to now, with a strong focus on provision of year-round access to basic social services for the rural population. Those projects were supported by the World Bank and other donors starting from relatively simple emergency funding with a primary objective to create employment in rural areas, and to work up to more extent to be involved in building institutional capacity in the two ministries responsible for the sector, the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development for tertiary roads and the Ministry of Public Works for secondary roads. Meanwhile, the program has created a good market for road construction companies working with the program nationwide.
The National Rural Access Program (NRAP) aims at promoting equitable economic growth by providing year-round access to basic services and facilities in the rural Afghanistan. In long term, the program will promote local productive capacity through a private led development of physical rural infrastructure and employment generation for the rural poor. This objective will be achieved by nation-wide quality rehabilitation, construction and maintenance of essential rural access infrastructure using appropriate labor-based approaches by contracting with the private sector and to a lesser extent with the communities thereby creating short-term employment opportunities and which will be engaged through the Community Development Councils (CDC).
The most recent of these projects, NERAP, is implemented for 5 years and completed by 2013 as scheduled. In continuation to NERAP, the Afghanistan Rural Access Project (ARAP) has been launched under the government’s NRAP program which will provide access to rural roads, beside employment generation to rural poor and construction market to private sector that are active in said industry in the country. ARAP is also going to be implemented by both Ministry of Public Works for Secondary Roads and Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation & Development for Tertiary roads. ARAP is also funded by the World Bank, IADA and ARTF and it is scheduled to be completed by 2017. Besides ARAP and the world bank funded projects, the program is currently implementing the Afghanistan Peach and Reintegration Project which is funded by The High Peach Council of Afghanistan and its current phase is scheduled to be completed in 2014, the government funded projects, Japan funded projects and other bilateral donors funded projects such URAP in the country.
These projects will provide year round access, economic growth, short term skills through road improvement and maintenance programs. The program has a capacity building component which will target project staff and local contractors’ technical staff as well and its institutional strengthening component focuses on system developments to meet the sector needs.