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Democracy & Governance


Democracy & Governance in Afghanistan

In the years since the fall of the Taliban, in partnership with its international allies, Afghanistan has drafted a new constitution and organized presidential, parliamentary, and provincial council elections.  As part of the 2014 transition timeframe, the Afghan government is focused on building self-sustaining capacity to provide basic services to citizens; establishing a more effective, accountable, and transparent administration at all levels; and implementing measurable improvements in fighting corruption, upholding justice, and increasing the rule of law.  Capacity building increases effectiveness and sustainability.  In order to implement this, USAID and the Afghan government have facilitated improved delivery of government services and representation at the sub-national level.  A sustainable merit-based hiring process has been put in place to revise appointments of deputy governors and sub-governors and is used in filling civil service positions.


USAID’s democracy and governance projects support participatory processes that involve citizens in national and sub-national governance.  Projects promote more-accountable, transparent governance, encouraging national unity and serving the needs of the Afghan people.  USAID helps develop the capacity of key institutions, including the Independent Electoral Commission, the National Assembly, the Supreme Court, and target ministries and institutions of the executive branch such as the Independent Directorate for Local Governance, and the Civil Service Commission.  USAID also supports the development of Afghan civil-society and media organizations to advocate for society-led reforms.


In concert with the Afghan government, USAID is building the capacity of the judiciary and the faculties of law as well as strengthening the judiciary’s public legal outreach program.  It also supports traditional dispute-resolution mechanisms that foster links between the formal and informal justice systems.  Corruption issues are addressed through a range of projects including strengthening the capacity of the High Office of Oversight, by providing ethics training to various actors, including civil servants and the judiciary, and by promoting the enforcement of anti-corruption laws and regulations.  Through several direct grants to Afghan organizations, USAID is strengthening their capacity to fight against corruption, promote greater access to justice, and raise public awareness of human rights and rule of law issues.

USAID supports traditional dispute mechanisms through building community elders’ knowledge of Afghan law and human rights norms; working with Afghan partners to encourage implementation of alternatives to social practices that negatively impact women and children; and strengthening connections between state actors and the informal systems.  In addition, the program continues to support the formal justice sector by providing professional training to judges and strengthening the capacity of the courts in managing and budgeting, further preparing Afghanistan for transition.


The overarching U.S. Government objective is to help promote a more-capable, accountable, and effective government in Afghanistan.  The emphasis is on service delivery, income generation and governance reforms, as well as capacity-building to build a base for sustained progress after transition.
USAID programs on governance focus on several areas, including technical assistance and resources to national, provincial, district, and municipal government entities; mechanisms to reform and train the civil service; establishment of operational budgets at the provincial level; technical support to the Afghan Parliament; and assisting elected officials and civil-society groups to conduct public outreach, respond to citizen concerns, and direct service delivery efforts.  The governance portfolio works to strengthen linkages between the different levels of government, and to strengthen government systems and processes.


USAID supports civic and voter education programs, political parties strengthening, and electoral reform through the Independent Election Commission and civil society partners, as well as by promoting a legitimate, sustainable voter registry system.  USAID also supports issue-based coalition-building, and works on a sub-national level with provincial governors, members of provincial councils, religious leaders, and community organizations on strategic-planning, civic-education, and advocacy efforts.


USAID promotes the development of a strong and active civil-society sector to help Afghan citizens more effectively participate in the political process, solve community problems, and advocate for good governance.  Programs seek to improve the laws that regulate non-governmental organizations, develop capacity, networks for democratic processes, citizen mobilization, and policy engagement.
USAID supports the development of Afghanistan’s media as critical to promoting the free exchange of information vital to the democratic process.  USAID is building the capacity of broadcast media through equipment upgrades; hands-on journalism training; the development of Afghan media policy and regulatory framework; and empowering local voices.
Assistance for activities that promote gender equality and the development of women’s civic and political leadership is a priority component of multiple civil-society, governance, rule of law, and political processes programs.

Current Projects:

Old Projects:

Last updated: December 17, 2014

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