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Policy Process

Status: Completed

“As a representation of intent to Afghan citizens, formal policy appears to have a mixed reception because it is readily contrasted with people’s direct experiences of the state, which generally tend to fall short of the promises such policies hold.”
AREU’s policy process research explores how some of the country’s key plans, strategies and laws have been developed over the past decade. The final report, “Policymaking and State-Building in Afghanistan,” draws on case studies focused on different aspects of national-level policymaking processes:
The Afghan National Development Strategy (ANDS), demonstrating the weaknesses of overarching policy structures that attempt to be all things to all people; rural development approaches and divergent experiences between government ministries, outlining the importance of government leadership in negotiating terms with donors; the development of the National Education Strategic Plan, showing the role of policymaking as a process of negotiation and the challenge of balancing capacity building with the use of technical advisors; attempts to standardise senior subnational appointments, showing how efforts to impose formal policy structures can be circumvented by existing informal norms; and an analysis of the making of the controversial Shiite Personal Status Law, providing insight into the dynamics of Afghanistan’s emerging legislature and its relationship with civil society.
A separate report focuses on the Afghan government’s attempts to implement gender mainstreaming—assessing the implication of planned actions for both women and men—which have so far met with limited success.
Evidence from these studies paints a picture of multiple actors pushing competing and occasionally contradictory agendas, often grounded in highly limited empirical understandings of the issues at hand. Broad conclusions suggest a pressing need for greater and more sensitive dialogue between international donors, the Afghan government, and its people. In particular, it is critical that future policy makes a greater attempt to engage with existing institutions at a local level, and allows more space for the inclusion of Afghan ideas and priorities.

Publications from this research project:

Policymaking in Agriculture and Rural Development

The agriculture sector in Afghanistan is seen to have a key role in driving economic growth. This paper examines the making of Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD) policy in Afghanistan. It is part of a series by AREU looking at Read More

Between Discipline and Discretion: Policies Surrounding Senior Subnational Appointments

Over the years the calls for improved governance in Afghanistan have become increasingly urgent. Understanding the various ways in which governors and district governors are appointed, and the different influences that affect the process, is important if ways are to Read More

Focusing ANDS Implementation on Pro-Poor Outcomes: Workshop Proceedings, 23 February 2009

This workshop presented key findings from two AREU papers on the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) process and outcomes, and used these to fuel discussion on ways forward in implementing the ANDS. It aimed to engage some of the people Read More

Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) Formulation Process: Influencing Factors and Challenges

This paper examines the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS), an ambitious programme which resulted from a complex series of policy interactions. The ANDS is tied to other important documents and processes related to the country’s development, including the Millennium Development Read More

A Mandate to Mainstream: Promoting Gender Equality in Afghanistan

Gender mainstreaming has been identified as the Government of Afghanistan’s chosen strategy for achieving gender equality in the country. This paper from AREU contends that the implementation of this strategy needs to be strengthened significantly for substantive changes to take Read More

Moving to the Mainstream: Integrating Gender in Afghanistan’s National Policy

This paper contends that gender mainstreaming as the government’s principal strategy for promoting gender equity is not being implemented substantively. Presenting a comprehensive analysis of gender mechanisms in three ministries, the paper proposes ways to promote the implementation of gender Read More