Summary: February 26, 2002: Afghanistan reconstruction: European Commission approves Euro 57.5 million for Initial Recovery Programme (Brussels)
The European Commission has today approved an Initial Recovery Programme for Afghanistan worth €57.5 million. The aim of the programme is to support the stabilization of the country, assisting its new Interim Administration and meeting primary needs. The main components of the package are: support to public administration, rural recovery, mine clearance and basic urban infrastructures as well as help with information and co-ordination mechanisms to bolster the reconstruction effort.
Welcoming the adoption of the programme, External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten stated: "The aid approved today is another sign of Europe's substantial and sustained effort to help rebuild Afghanistan's society and economy. The European Commission's contribution in 2002 amounts to €200million: a clear expression of our commitment to the Afghan people."
Main components of the EC Initial Recovery Programme:
Support to public administration (€20 million)
An efficient new administration will be crucial to the future political stability of Afghanistan. EU money will finance both long-term investment and current expenditure. One of the key priorities is to resume provision of public and social services on a national basis. Another is to ensure more coherent use of resources by creating uniform public health and education systems. The first step is the rebuilding of individual government departments, both in terms of staffing, and policy formulation. EU money will fund technical assistance, help equip these ministries, and pay the salaries of public sector workers.
Rural recovery (€13 million)
The package aims to support recovery of rural livelihoods in target areas of Northern and Southern Afghanistan. Investment is urgently needed to rebuild the infrastructure and productive base in these rural communities. The aim is to create employment through an injection of capital into the local economy - providing an alternative to poppy cultivation, and a new start for entire communities.
Tackling the threat from mines (€10 million)
The package aims to help tackle the threat from mines in close co-ordination with the international community. Mine action (mine clearance, impact survey, mine awareness, victims' rehabilitation) is a prerequisite for resumption of economic and social life in contaminated areas, particularly resettlement; agricultural and live stock production and trade. It is also a precondition for undertaking major investment in the infrastructure, such as rebuilding the road network and reconstruction of urban areas. The area to be de-mined is estimated to be around 850 km2, of which 400km2 are considered to be priority zones. The present de-mining capacity is 40 km2 per year, but until now progress has been hampered by lack of funds.
Basic urban infrastructure (€7 million)
In the main urban centers, (Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif, Jalalabad, Herat, Khandahar, Faizabad) and provincial cities affected by war a big difference can be made quite quickly by restoring damaged infrastructure and utilities. Existing local expertise will be drawn on as much as possible to help reactivate the urban planning functions essential to rehabilitation and development of the urban infrastructure. The package would provide results in: water sanitation, waste disposal, housing, power supply, public amenities, improved public buildings and the relaunch of urban planning activities.
Information and co-ordination (€3 million)
An essential component of the reconstruction effort is to ensure that adequate information for policy planning and co-ordination mechanisms are available. This will become more and more important as funds flow in from an increasing number of donors and implementing agencies. The European Commission intends to ensure a consistent, and improving flow of data: focusing on standards for the information to be collected, processing of the information at regional level, and the relay of data to implementing partners and decision makers.
The EU is fully committed to all aspects of the Afghan reconstruction process. The Union hosted the Bonn conference, which provided the blueprint for Afghanistan's future; it has participated fully in all military and security aspects and has been a major donor of humanitarian aid (€ 352 million since September 2001 alone). The EU has from the outset repeatedly declared its clear support for the long-term reconstruction effort, pledging in January 2002 up to €600 million at the Ministerial Afghanistan Reconstruction Conference in Tokyo. From that sum, the European Commission has pledged €200 million and the Member States €400 million.
Aside from the Initial Recovery Programme, the €200 million contribution includes a food security package (the re-starting of agricultural activities and rural production systems), aid to uprooted people and special initiatives under different instruments (human rights, asylum and migration, rapid reaction mechanism. In addition to this, humanitarian assistance will be provided by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) to the tune of €25 million in 2002.
To sustain Europe's long-term commitment to the Afghan people, the European Commission intends to propose to the EU's budgetary authority, that for the next 4 years, assistance should continue on average at a level comparable to this year. This would mean a contribution from the European Community budget of approximately €1 billion over the period 2002-2006: a major contribution to the reconstruction of Afghanistan and the future well being of its people.