State-building and Local Governance
“The piecemeal state-building efforts of the past must be knitted together, and altered where necessary, into a fabric of subnational governance.”
Afghanistan’s local and regional governance structures have undergone rapid change and expansion. AREU’s subnational state-building research project examined newly-emerged structures such as Provincial Councils (PCs) and Community Development Councils (CDCs) with the aim of assessing their impact and charting paths for future policymakers. The project also drew on existing AREU research on governance and public administration reform (PAR).
The study found that initiatives such as the CDCs have produced significant gains in expanding the presence and effectiveness of the Afghan state at a local level. However, they had been pursued in the absence of an overarching strategy for developing the country’s subnational governance framework as a whole. The development of such structures was shown to be uneven across the country as a whole, with programmes working better in some contexts than others. As new institutions proliferated, the overlap between provincial governors, centralised ministries and nascent representative bodies increased, and it was often unclear who was accountable to whom, for what. All of these factors pointed to a need for a more coordinated, flexible and sequential approach to subnational governance to help the government expand its impact and legitimacy.
AREU is currently working on a study examining how local governance has changed since the Ministry of Interior ceded responsibility for overseeing local government to the newly-formed Independent Directorate of Local Government in 2007. Results are due for release in 2011.