The director of UN-HABITAT’s Regional Office for Asia Pacific, Mr. Madhab Mathema on Monday told a news conference in Kabul that UN-HABITAT was forging ahead with a new human security project aimed at upgrading informal settlements in the three Afghan cities of Kandahar, Mazar, and Jalalabad.
According to the director, UN-HABITAT has been working in Afghanistan for the last 18 years. “As a matter of fact we returned to Afghanistan in 1981 when we started projects in Mazar and Kandahar. And during those days we worked very closely with UNDP, as we still do,” he said.
“During the Taliban times we started ‘The Community Development Programme’ in Mazar which gradually spread to Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, Bamyan and Farah,” he said.
Based on the experience of the programme, Mr. Mathema said the government had now launched the National Solidarity Programme in which the agency is taking an active part. He said that in all the UN-HABITAT engagements in Afghanistan, the founding principle is that they work with the government and not for the government. Another principle was that the agency worked with people and not for the people, and that all the present programmes must have an Afghan leadership.
It was against this background that UN-HABITAT launched the security project in Kandahar, Mazar and Jalalabad, funded by the United Nations Human Security Trust Fund.
He explained that the project was essentially about development or upgrading of informal settlements in these cities. “There are three important elements of the project. To work with people in the process empowering them, to help address their basic needs in time of access to basic services, and finally, in implementing the project we would like to work closely on a day-to-day basis with the municipalities so there is a direct connection with the municipal development processes and community development,” he said.
The project will cost US $3.5 million and will take about 14 months to complete.