Support to improving living conditions is part of the overall Danish effort to support ‘the growth of a stable and more developed Afghanistan that can take charge of its own security, continue its democratic development and promote respect for human rights’.
Fighting poverty, promoting social and economic development, increasing employment opportunities for both men and women, and creating real options for improving living conditions are essential parts of the Danish engagement. This will contribute to improved living conditions for the individuals and the households, and it essential for the overall attempt at stabilising the country and further promoting democratic development. Support to improving living conditions has a special relevance in connection with refugees. Such activities serve to facilitate return and reintegration of refugees, which is essential to stabilise Afghanistan and ease the relationship with neighbouring Pakistan and Iran that still host large numbers of Afghan refugees.
Support is being provided within three components. Under Rural Development, funding is provided to ongoing government developments programmes such as the National Solidarity Programme (NSP), which provides development block grants nation-wide directly to Afghan villages and establishes democratically elected community development councils to administer the grants and other development activities. Funding is also given to the National Area Based Development Programme (NABDP), which addresses social and economic development problems at district level; and to Afghanistan Rural Enterprise Development Programme (AREDP), which addresses shortcomings in development of private sector enterprises in rural Afghanistan. (See www.mrrd.org.af with links to the three programmes.) Funding is also provided to counter-narcotics activities such as promoting the use of alternative crops in Helmand province that has a very high rate of opium poppy cultivation.
Under Economic Facilities Development, funding is provided to the Microfinance Investment Support Facility for Afghanistan (MISFA), which, through partnership with sixteen independent micro finance institutions, provides small loans to individuals for setting up small business and stimulating local economy. The loan takers are predominantly women. (See www.misfa.org.af.)
Support to Infrastructure Development includes support to rehabilitation and upgrading of Gereshk Hydro Power Plant in Helmand province. This is a project with great potential for promoting development of small and medium sized industries and workshops in the town which in turn will promote stability and peace in the area.
Utilising humanitarian funding resources, a Region of Origin Initiative programme (2009-2012) is conducted to promote sustainable return and reintegration of Afghan refugees from neighbouring Pakistan and Iran. This programme aims at proving shelter, clean drinking water, and developing income opportunities in areas with high numbers of returning refugees. It also includes a component proving legal advice to returning refugees. The programme is implemented by the UNHCR, National Solidarity Programme (NSP), Danish Committee for Aid to Afghan Refugees (DACAAR), and Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).