Pro-poor development policy and natural resource management in post-conflict Afghanistan: Changes and challenge
After nearly three decades of conflict, military activities; refugee movements; collapse of national, provincial, and local forms of governance; lack of management and institutional capacity; and overexploitation have heavily damaged Afghanistan’s natural resource base. Afghanistan is faced with a high level of poverty and a high rate of natural resource degradation. The international community and the Government of Afghanistan are facing a significant challenge to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that address equitable and sustained pro-poor growth. To tackle the poverty that is deeply embedded in rural areas, national priorities (the Afghanistan National Development Strategy [ANDS]) insist on pro-poor policies and exploring ways of equitable access to natural resources to benefit the poor. On the other hand, degraded natural resources need to be protected from overexploitation by rural dwellers who in most cases are poor and fully dependent on them. The paper argues that the current policy development approaches for natural resource management in Afghanistan, which are based on sectoral, standardised, simplified, top-down, and centralised viewpoints, could not address the current diverse, interrelated, and complex nature of the issue. Some policy recommendations are proposed to improve understanding of the situation which is worsening.