24 Aug Kapisa Example Highlights Obstacles for Democratic Local Governance
AREU recently released a report on local governance in Afghanistan. A major focus was on the issue of representation and how local people could have their voices heard and needs met by government bodies operating in districts and provinces, especially since these are often constrained by Afghanistan’s highly centralised state structure. Shortly after the release of the AREU report, a Radio Liberty feature article on a district council in Kapisa Province provided a fascinating illustration of the challenges it faces.
These include local strongmen forcing their way onto the council, a confrontation with the district governor over international aid money, resolutions being ignored by authorities, and its need to fill gaps left by the weak court system. District councils such as this one are set-up under a US-backed system that is linked to stabilisation objectives and there is confusion over their precise role, especially considering that in many areas there is also an official District Development Assembly.
Many of these obstacles are discussed in the AREU report, for which the Kapisa story provides an interesting case study. Other related downloads are available on the local governance project page, including a set of key findings and recommendations, notes from a roundtable discussion on district councils, and a podcast by author Douglas Saltmarshe that outlines the key issues identified during the research, which took place in 46 districts of Afghanistan.