Years of conflict and neglect have severely eroded Afghanistan's ability to provide basic services in urban areas. The lack of basic urban services such as sanitation and solid waste management, compounded by the inability of municipal authorities to cope with demand when faced with outdated equipment, unpaid salaries and very limited revenues, are some of the most pressing issues facing the government. This project addresses both the short-term need for basic clean-up and repair and the longer-term objectives of strengthening the capacity of municipal authorities to plan, implement and deliver waste management and sanitation services. The project purposefully focuses on material-light/labour-intensive projects in the provision of basic services in waste collection and the repair of basic infrastructure (such as lining and cleaning of drains, and the rehabilitation of culverts for improved access), and in so doing allocates most of the project funds to labour costs. Such an approach has the dual impact of creating large-scale job opportunities and increasing local purchasing power and economic development, whilst improving people’s living conditions. The project has strictly adhered to the use of locally available resources and expertise, the promotion of stakeholder participation and the building of municipal and community project ownership.
Municipal authorities were involved in identifying priorities and managing activities. The core project activities took place in four cities - Kandahar, Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif and Bamyan - and involved the collection and clearance of solid waste, the provision of health awareness education (employing women educators at the neighbourhood level) and community-based sanitation (such as composting and drain cleaning), and the construction and repair of drains and culverts. Equipment employed during the project has been left with the municipalities to ensure the longer-term sustainability of basic service provision.
Residents in all cities are benefiting from reduced vulnerability and risk to public health problems as a result of marked physical impact from improved sanitation. This includes the removal of 455,147 m3 of solid waste, the cleaning of 2,133 km of drains and repair of 44.67 km of drains, construction of 268 culverts and gravelling of 3.83km of roads. In addition sidewalks have been improved through levelling and concreting, 0.4km of piped water supply has been extended, 25 garbage bins installed in bazaars and 22 stand posts installed. The Programme has successfully increased the capacity of the municipalities and communities in addressing future problems and has enabled communities to engage in small-scale works at the neighbourhood level; 30,000 jobs have been created with local economic multiplier effects.