The single most important achievement to date is the creation of mechanisms for local governance and decision making. The community empowerment that has taken place manifests itself through the rapid absorption of NSP funding and the mobilization of additional resources. The broad-based introduction of an alternative decision making process at the lowest community level represents a form of government at its most basic form; one that the central government and the international community have envisioned for Afghanistan. The introduction of democratically elected community decision-making bodies as a viable alternative to the traditional local governance structure has provided a vehicle to re-build the social fabric and relationships at grassroots level. As a development entity, the National Solidarity Programme of the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD/NSP) has been able to actively participate in the rural reconstruction while leading people towards advancement and better living standards by executing thousands of infrastructure projects across all 34 provinces of Afghanistan. In addition to achieving certain national and human objectives, the NSP has made considerable progress in other spheres of rural life styles that are unprecedented in the history of Afghanistan.
Since its inception, the NSP’s most important achievements can be classified as follows:
Community Development Councils (CDCs): One of the NSP’s greatest achievements is the formation of CDCs at the community level. The CDCs are formed of community members through a transparent and democratic election process. Once elected, they prioritize the communities’ priority needs and make decisions about how tackle them. These achievements of the NSP are unique and incomparable in the social history of Afghanistan. The communities led by the CDCs are now in control of their destinies and through identification of hurdles, they move their communities towards well-being and development.
Local Governance: Another phenomenal success of the NSP is the establishment of a local governance and decision-making mechanism at the village level through the CDCs. The community's empowerment is a phenomenon that is mainly based on the programme’s frequent attention to and mobilization of further resources. The decision-making process at the grass-root level demonstrates the presence of government within the rural areas of the country. The central government and the international community are optimistic about the rehabilitation of Afghanistan. The democratically elected decision-makers in the communities have established an alternative, uninterrupted mechanism in local governance that helps structurally rebuild societies and their affairs. As a reliable entity, on many occasions, the programme is able to resolve the people’s disputes and help communities eradicate their socio-economic and cultural problems.
Participation of Women in Shaping Their Community’s Destiny: In addition to having achievements in various spheres, the NSP managed to enhance the capacities of the rural women, improve their living standards and ensure their role at the community level. In the past, women were considered incapable and valueless creatures and their opinions were seldom heard. However, the rural women are now physically present in the CDCs, and beside the men, they can raise their voices and can defend their rights.
Capacity Development: The NSP has been able to enhance the CDCs’ capacities in various dimensions including administration, attracting donors' attention, monitoring and evaluation, accountability and planning, as they are currently able to act on their own and protect their sustainability.
Conducting Four CDC National Consultative Conferences: Since its inception in 2003, the NSP has been able to conduct four National consultative conferences attended by both male and female CDC members from all over the country. In addition to exchanging experiences during these conferences, many shortfalls and deficits were evaluated and the ways for their solution have been searched. Furthermore, future plans for rural development have been projected and effective sketches have been identified for the rural development process as a result of the conferences.
Coverage of more than 78% of the Country: One of the NSP’s greatest and prominent achievements is rollout which has been able to cover more than 79% of the rural communities across Afghanistan by disbursing 1,329 Million USD the disbursement of these funds for the execution of development projects is another achievement of the programme. Facts prove that the NSP has struggled hard to develop rural communities across the country.
Community Participation in Development: One of the much-valued exercises and practices which the programme introduced is the active participation of villagers in the development schemes of their communities. Community participation refers to mandatory community contribution which includes: financial, labor or in-kind equaling 10% of the total sub-project cost. This practice not only gives people the feeling of joint ownership of the projects; but also encourages them to affirm their commitment to fully protecting the projects against any natural disasters or potential threats from offenders.
Annual Disbursement Plan: Successful implementation of the programme and its annual budget shows transparency, accountability, loyalty and hard work, which have brought development and growth to rural areas of the country. The programme has managed to expend more than 93% of its budget in 2013, which is a massive achievement in the context of a development programme like the NSP.