Tags: Afghanistan | Wants | $15 | Billion | Rebuild

Afghanistan Wants $15 Billion to Rebuild

Tuesday, 15 January 2002 12:00 AM

Reconstruction of infrastructure such as roads, water lines, sewer pipes and electrical plants is expected to cost about $5 billion in the next two and a half years. That's the term of the current interim authority and transitional government under an agreement signed in December.

The report comes ahead of a high-level Afghan reconstruction conference in Tokyo next week. Japan, European Union countries, Saudi Arabia and the United States have formed a reconstruction group on Afghanistan. The report was prepared by the United Nations Development Program, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

The meeting comes as military conflict in the region is winding down. The interim government of Hamid Karzai is taking power in a country whose cities are partially destroyed from decades of almost uninterrupted fighting.

Mark Malloch Brown, head of the U.N. Development Program, discussed the report with journalists at U.N. headquarters on Tuesday. Brown and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan are expected to attend the Tokyo meeting.

"In the immediate months ahead, the Afghan administration will be under pressure to achieve quick results in its reconstruction efforts, meeting pressing needs in a way that gives the citizens a stake in peace and stability," the report says. "This underlines the urgent need for up-front reconstruction activities and support from the international assistance community."

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell this week pledged that the new Afghan interim government would not have to "take this job on alone" in reconstruction. Powell will be attending the reconstruction conference.

Afghan interim leader Karzai is expected to attend. More than 50 countries and a number of international aid agencies also are expected.

"This conference is intended to create an opportunity for the international community to show full support for Afghan reconstruction and to lay a foundation for peace and stability," the Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman said. "We hope we will give a strong message to the people of Afghanistan that the international community as a whole will strongly support the reconstruction and stability of Afghanistan."

Only 23 percent of the Afghan population has access to safe water. Only 12 percent have sanitation facilities. Just 35 percent of the geographical districts have any health services for mothers and children. Four percent of the population is disabled, many by land mines, according to the report.

The country's interim administration is expected to play a leadership role in drawing up a reconstruction strategy.

Senior officials in Kabul were consulted for the report, as were Afghan civil-society interest and advocacy groups, the World Bank said in a statement. "Community-based" development and the role of women in Afghanistan's reconstruction were given special attention in the report.

Part of the estimate for the first 30 months under Afghanistan's new government covers recurring costs, such as policing and tax collection is not regarded as feasible just yet, Brown said. It is estimated the country will need about $1.8 billion to cover such expenses.

The UNDP administrator said by far the greatest concern of Afghanistan citizens is security, and that meant local policing, not international security.

However, de-mining was expected to remain an important priority. There is a special focus in the report on a community approach to development and on the role of women in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, making space for them both in the economy and in planning and decision-making. In earlier Afghan governments, about 43 percent of civil servants were women, said Brown, the UNDP administrator.

The preliminary needs assessment expects these priorities to be focused on helping as many Afghans as possible reclaim their lives with access to health services, with children, especially girls, going to school and adults returning to productive livelihoods, many of them in the fields and orchards.

The U.N. spokesman in Kabul, Ahmad Fawzi, earlier told reporters that 235,000 civil servants in Afghanistan had not been paid for six to seven months. The unpaid back salaries and salaries for the next six months would take $70 million immediately and would be separate from the reconstruction funding. Another $30 million is needed to "prop up" the interim administration logistically and physically, for items such as "window panes and doors."

Senior officials in Kabul were consulted on the work done so far but time has been limited since the inauguration of the interim authority Dec. 22. In addition, Afghan civil society has been consulted in an intense round of conferences and meetings since late November, U.N. officials said.

It is expected that as the benefits of peace, security and the beginning of development activities were demonstrated, refugees will return home in larger numbers. Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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Reconstruction of infrastructure such as roads, water lines, sewer pipes and electrical plants is expected to cost about $5 billion in the next two and a half years. That's the term of the current interim authority and transitional government under an agreement signed in...
Tuesday, 15 January 2002 12:00 AM
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