A special ceremony was held in Kabul on Tuesday to mark the successful achievement of community street upgrading work in three districts of Afghanistan's capital city.
The ceremony marked the completion of the first phase of the Kabul Solidarity Programme supported by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and was attended by government officials, local community leaders, JICA representatives, municipal district managers and UN-Habitat personnel.
At the ceremony the Deputy Mayor of Kabul Municipality Mr. Abdul Ahad Wahid highlighted the programme's achievements, including the construction of 29.66 km of roads and 56 km of sidewalks. He stated that a key achievement was the financial contribution by the communities of over USD 2 million, indicating a commitment to improving the quality of life for all citizens in partnership with Kabul Municipality.
UN-Habitat developed the concept of the Kabul Solidarity Programme in close cooperation with the Municipality of Kabul. The Kabul Solidarity Programme encourages citizens to contribute to upgrading activities and supports the representation of community groups in the government's decision making at all levels.This first phase follows a successful pilot scheme implemented in 2011 with financial support from the Government of Japan.
Over 33,000 inhabitants have directly and indirectly benefited from improved basic services and infrastructure through community-based upgrading projects. This has resulted in enhancing environmentally-sound living conditions such as increasing job opportunities with construction skills, increasing easy access to markets and local economic activities on improved concrete roads, and decreasing water-borne diseases through improved water sanitation in drainage systems. Sustainability of these enhanced infrastructures is ensured through community contributions with regular operation and maintenance by the community members.
Mr. Peter Dalglish, Country Representative for UN-Habitat, thanked the Kabul Municipality, community leaders, JICA and the People of Japan for their support. He noted "beyond the quantitative achievements, I want to highlight the important impact of this programme, including the improved living conditions for people of the areas and increased linkages and trust between the Kabul Municipality and citizens." He reminded all at the ceremony that "the need for infrastructure and basic services remain large in Kabul, which receives a huge influx of people migrating to the city from all over the country."
UN-Habitat is currently implementing the second phase of the Kabul Solidarity Programme in partnership with JICA in four districts of the city. In Afghanistan's secondary cities UN-Habitat has replicated the programme to help municipalities and communities to address the challenges of rapid urbanization and urban poverty with improved access to basic services and infrastructure through community empowerment. This is in line with the desire of the Government of Afghanistan's priority to hand over the responsibilities of service delivery to local governments.