Edited by Léo-Paul Dana, Mary Han, Vanessa Ratten and Isabell M. Welpe
Ruth Clarke and Ramdas Chandra Introduction By all social and economic indicators the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is the poorest country in the Asia and Pacific region and one of the least-developed countries in the world (Asian Development Bank, 2007). Afghan authorities, with strong international support, have embarked on an ambitious program of state building, including democratic political normalization, rehabilitation of infrastructure, restoration of basic services, and institutional reform. Because of its dismal starting point however, Afghanistan will have difficulty achieving the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals for poverty reduction by 2015 (World Bank, 2007). Statistics on each of the eight goals is very limited at this time due to the difficulty of collecting adequate data, further illustrating Afghanistan’s inability to achieve advances in development. The Afghanistan Compact, adopted at the London Conference on Afghanistan in early 2006, provides a binding agreement for engagement in the country’s development over the next five years. The Compact – based on the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the Afghanistan Government’s Interim Afghanistan National Development Strategy (IANDS) – aims to consolidate institutions, curb insecurity, control the illegal narcotics trade, stimulate the economy, enforce laws, raise basic services, and protect human rights. A Joint Coordination Monitoring Board, consisting of government and development partners, oversees progress on Compact targets and benchmarks. Significant amounts of the resources coming from the world community to Afghanistan, approximately 40 percent of GNP (World Bank, 2007), target largescale infrastructural projects to rebuild the war-devastated country. Ongoing security issues naturally make reconstruction a...
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