• “Don’t punish Afghan women and girls twice over": BAAG Statement on World Bank Spring Meetings 2022

“Don’t punish Afghan women and girls twice over": BAAG Statement on World Bank Spring Meetings 2022

21 April 2022

BAAG Statement on World Bank Spring Meetings and sustaining support for Afghanistan and civil society’s role in ensuring aid effectiveness

As major donor governments and officials from international financial institutions convene for the annual Spring Meetings of the World Bank and its session on Afghanistan on 22nd April 2022, the British & Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group (BAAG) call on donor and World Bank officials to articulate a clear and effective approach to sustain funding to Afghanistan as the crisis there spirals and many millions are facing famine conditions and to strengthen support for civil society’s role in helping communities to cope.

In the wake of the Taliban’s decisions on girls education, some commentators have suggested that this should result in aid being cut to Afghanistan. From the perspective of BAAG’s member agencies, this would be the wrong approach and would, in effect, punish Afghan women and girls twice over for the mistaken policy of Taliban authorities. Instead, donor governments, and institutions like the World Bank, should adopt a strong and aligned approach to negotiating with the Taliban authorities reiterating that international recognition and engagement is contingent on their respect for human rights, including the rights of women and girls. Cuts to aid budgets or imposing further restrictions on funding to the humanitarian response and resilience efforts in Afghanistan as a consequence of the decision on girls education would only result in further suffering for Afghan women and girls.

When it comes to the World Bank’s role in channelling assistance to Afghanistan, then it is essential that the role of NGOs – both international and national NGOs – is recognised and support for quality partnership and localisation is explicitly articulated in this in from the outset. A significant proportion of the aid funds channelled by donors to Afghanistan is being directed through funding mechanisms and instruments in which the World Bank and other multilateral institutions play a lead and management role. As discussions go forward on the “2.0” or “3.0” approaches to post Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) funding, it is essential that the World Bank and other multilateral institutions are held accountable by their donors for their approach to partnerships with NGOs and their support for community-led programming approaches; which serve as key strategies to demonstrate that aid funding is being delivered through programmes operating on a principled basis in terms of supporting humanitarian needs and addressing community resilience, and not manipulated according to political agendas.

Past experience in Afghanistan of World Bank managed funding mechanisms has proven very mixed in terms of the effectiveness of their approach to partnering with and resourcing civil society. In particular the management of partnerships with civil society and delays in payments to civil society implementing partners on the previous national priority programmes caused major challenges for those organisations; resulting in significant negative impacts both for staff, organisational sustainability and damaging relationships with communities in which they work.

Previous experience with World Bank funded programmes in Afghanistan, such as the Citizen Charter and its predecessor the National Solidarity Programme, also varied significantly in terms of the levels of flexibility or quality partnership accorded to NGO implementing partners. The former, for example, was often experienced as very much a top-down, politically-driven initiative presenting numerous challenges for NGOs attempting to implement thoughtful, community-led programme approaches. The latter was generally experienced as a more effective approach to NGO programming; working in support of community led recovery and development programming.

Looking forward, BAAG calls on decision-makers at the World Bank Spring Meetings to outline explicit and substantive commitments on:

  • Design, management and implementation of funding mechanisms and instruments by the World Bank and other multilateral institutions in Afghanistan factoring in support to NGOs, including both international NGOs and local NGOs; with particular attention given to cascading flexibility in funding, multiyear funding, coverage of overheads costs, and partnership approaches to risk management in support to both international and local NGOs.
  • Establishing a clear and explicit approach to monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning in terms of partnership quality, support for localisation and community led programming approaches. Progress on these priorities should be assessed on a regular basis, and reviewed as part of the agenda at the next World Bank Annual Spring Meeting session on Afghanistan in 2023.

 

Signed by:

The British & Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group (BAAG)