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Support to Strategic Planning For Sustainable Rural Livelihoods, Afghanistan
Written by Trevor Nott, IMA International   
Today, Afghanistan is emerging from over two decades of recent violence.  It does so with astonishing resilience and optimism, but with a daunting task ahead.  Livelihood assets have been decimated and the public sector has suffered from years of under resourcing.  In addition the country remains vulnerable to prolonged droughts, harsh winters and mined pastures.  The result of this is that today Afghanistan has some of the lowest human development indicators in the world.  Life expectancy is 44.5 years at birth, 20 years lower than its neighbouring countries: only 28.7% of Afghans over the age of 15 can read and write and maternal mortality is 60 times higher than for women in industrialised countries, with pregnancy related deaths occurring every 30 minutes [1]. 53% of Afghans live below the National poverty line of 2100 Kcal/day.

Against this background the country is re-building.  NGOs continue their invaluable work throughout the country, increasingly in productive and dynamic partnerships with the public sector.  Refuges from the conflict are returning, and in doing so help develop the capacity of civil society, the organisations they join, and the businesses they start. Meanwhile elections, at the national and regional level serve to improve governance and promote the rule of law.

Within this environment IMA International is working as a key partner in the Support to Strategic Planning for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods Project (SSPSRL) with two key ministries: the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Food (MMAHF), and the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD).  The aim of the project is to strengthen the capacity of the two ministries, and related agencies, to plan develop and supervise implementation of programmes and projects in the context of the Sustainable Rural Livelihoods Approach, with the goal of encouraging effective rural development policies and programmes in Afghanistan [2]. IMA’s role within this is to identify the key skills gaps that exist within the ministries in order for them to achieve this goal, and to develop cost effective, strategic and sustainable solutions to address them.  To date IMA has trained all Departmental Directors in both ministries in Development Planning, Programme/Project Management and Sustainable Livelihoods.  We have also trained and established a core group of trainers within each ministry to address additional skill development requirements, both centrally in the head office and in the provinces.  As part of this process MRRD, with the support of IMA, is implementing a Learning Needs Assessment pilot in two districts in order to identify the key skill constraints facing staff in those areas.

In addition we have organised a 10 day study tour to Thailand with senior ministry staff from MAAHF, MRRD and the new counter narcotics ministry to look at alternative livelihood strategies in order to combat the spread of opium production.

MRRD, with support from SSPSRL, has recently completed their 3 year strategic plan and  MAAHF is in the process of completing their Master Plan.  IMA International looks forward to continuing a working partnership with these ministries in order to help them achieve their visions and promote sustainable livelihoods throughout the country.

1 UNDP National Human Development Report. Afghanistan 2005
2 SSPSRL Logical Framework
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