1. Overall 75% of the people of Afghanistan live in rural areas where agriculture is the primary activity and contributes about one third of the GDP. However, poor governance, weak factor markets, inadequate marketing infrastructure and business development services as well as the poor postharvest practices are limiting the economic development potential of this sector and constraining on on-farm and non-farm employment opportunities, thus perpetuating poverty in the rural areas. The major challenges are (but not limited to) poverty and vulnerability, economic slowdown and increasing insecurity, fragmented and uncoordinated development, spread of opium poppy, weak institutions, lack of access to finance and poorly functioning factor market, inadequate marketing infrastructures and shortage of business expertise.
2. The Government of Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) envisions, “A society of hope and prosperity based on a strong, private sector led market economy, social equity and environmental sustainability”. Under ANDS, investment to generate alternative livelihoods have been considered key, and the Agriculture and Rural Development Strategy sets out a series of investment/projects designed to improve the quality of life and provide alternative livelihoods to the rural population. AREDP is listed as one of the projects in ANDS.
3. IDA with support of the World Bank has played an important role in assisting reconstruction and development in Afghanistan. With regards to rural development and agriculture, it has supported a number of national policy projects and program, including NSP, irrigation rehabilitation, rural roads, horticulture and livestock development, and microfinance.
Brief About AREDP
4. The Mission of the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) is to ensure the social, economic, and political welfare of rural society, especially poor and vulnerable people, through the provision of basic services, strengthening local governance, and promoting sustainable livelihoods. MRRD accomplishes this mission through donor funded national programs in the areas of governance, infrastructure and economic growth.
5. The Afghanistan Rural Enterprise Development Program (AREDP) funded by IDA and ARTF is aimed at harnessing the potential of the private sector for inclusive economic growth and sustainable job creation in rural Afghanistan. The program aims at building on the social capital gained under the National Solidarity Program (NSP) and transforming it into economic capital. The overall development objective of the project (PDO) is to “improve employment opportunities and income of the rural men and women, and substantially of targeted local enterprises.” This will be achieved by enhancing participation of rural poor in economic activities, supporting them through business development services and access to finance, and improving market linkages and value chains.
6. AREDP consists of two program components, (1) community-led micro enterprise development (Component-A), supports village-based micro enterprise activities including access to finance, comprising community facilitation, forming and nurturing of savings groups and village savings and loan associations. This support also includes establishing and strengthening enterprise groups and market driven rural entrepreneurs facilitating their access to market and technical and financial services. It is envisaged that about 9,000 Savings Groups (SGs), 600 Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs), 1250 Enterprise Groups would be formed and supported, impacting nearly half of a million people. (2) The Enterprise Development (Component-B) deals with Enterprise facilitation, business development support and access to finance for enterprises, which would support approximately 750 enterprises in SELECT SQL_CACHEed sectors.
Relevancy of the Assignment with the Project
7. The SELECT SQL_CACHEion of Environmental and Social Safeguard Service Providers (ESSSP) is relevant with the Project Development Objective (PDO) because AREDP Safeguards Implementation Unit (SIU) to be initially staffed with an Environmental and Social Safeguards Specialist (ESSS) to implement the programs safeguards strategy with the help of ESSSP in the field. The program has also developed a comprehensive matrix of all anticipated adverse environmental and social impacts of supported activities, monitoring and mitigation tools. It is also noted that the Environment and Social Safeguards issues are legislated in the nation’s constitution, Environment Law and other related laws and regulations in Afghanistan.
Overall Objectives of the Assignment
8. The overall objective of SELECT SQL_CACHEion of Environmental and Social Safeguards Services Providers (ESSSPs) in long term is to transforming the services providers into BDSP for SMEs, EGs and other rural institutions related to Environmental and Social Safeguard aspects. The social safeguard service providers will nest in the provinces and will provide their services initially for six months with the guidance of Social Safeguard Specialist from Head Quarter of AREDP. AREDP will develop their technical and facilitation capacity through sufficient training programs during their assignment in the program. AREDP will organize the training program with the help of World Bank Safeguards team as well as NEPA. AREDP will pay them for initial six months with a strategy for capacity building for selling their services within the rural community. AREDP also make responsive the SMEs and enterprises to pay for services to the service provider. However, the service fees of these ESSSPs from AREDP will be constant throughout their assignment with AREDP, but the income of these trained ESSSP in future will be based on their deliverables.