Afghanistan - an assessment of conflict and actors in Faryab province to establish a basis for increased Norwegian civilian involvement.

Afghanistan - an assessment of conflict and actors in Faryab province to establish a basis for increased Norwegian civilian involvement.

Improving Norwegian involvement in Afghanistan

Norway has had an extensive development assistance programme in Afghanistan since 2001, as well as being involved in military activities as a member of NATO. In 2006, a decision was taken to channel more of Norway’s resources to Faryab province, in northern Afghanistan, where Norwegian forces are concentrated and where Norway heads the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT). This paper details the findings of a conflict assessment of Faryab province, which was conducted in order to establish a foundation for this increased involvement.

The paper draws the following conclusions about current PRT assistance in Faryab:

• PRT has exerted a positive influence over the provincial and communal security situation in Faryab. However, there is a need for an exit strategy to transfer responsibility to the Afghan army and police force

• more needs to be done to ensure a clear separation between the PRT’s security and humanitarian mandates, including provisions that diplomatic/development staff, the police and legal advisers operate independently of the military forces

• Norway should seek to avoid Faryab becoming an exclusively ‘Norwegian province’, by encouraging involvement of other donors, continuation of national programmes, funding for national and international NGOs and support for Faryab-based CSOs and initiatives

• governance needs to be a major focus in the Norwegian engagement in Faryab. This implies open debate with Afghan government at all levels, as well as coordination with multilateral agencies and donors

• warlords and regional military commanders still have substantial influence in the province, although the main military-political organisation appears to be moving towards becoming a political party

• humanitarian and development assistance is required to address major needs such as water provision and job creation. However, this assistance must be carefully planned to avoid generating new conflicts

• there is an urgent need to mitigate the effects of drought and to carry out a regional assessment of prospects of environmental change, and possibilities for reducing its

• support for education should balance quantity and quality and should move towards a more long term approach.

Based on all the above points, the report concludes that there is a need for a strong Norwegian governmental presence in Faryab, to achieve objectives and ensure a higher degree of continuity. It argues that the following points are essential to improving governance in the province:

• longer-term contracts for staff are needed to build trust and dialogue
• people must be involved in defining, deciding upon and controlling the delivery of humanitarian and development assistance
• non-corrupt and transparent practices must be followed in Norwegian funding and delivery

Finally, the paper argues that there is a need for more in-depth knowledge on a range of issues and presents a list of indicators that could be followed by Afghan researchers/surveyors to facilitate a continuing conflict assessment. It  describes a number of alternative scenarios could be developed for the future involvement in Faryab.

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