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The Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) focuses on the key provision of rural infrastructure and economic development for men and women of Afghanistan. Its primary aim is to reduce poverty amongst the approximately 80% of Afghans who live in rural areas. This is being done through a multi-pronged approach that has its foundation in creating community empowerment through strategies building on creation of efficient governance, infrastructure, human capital development, access to income and economic development. These strategies will focus on equitable development and livelihood improvement. It is in line with the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS), the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) and the Afghan Compact goals. The main vision of the MRRD is to reduce poverty in rural areas by addressing, holistically, the complex causes of poverty and establishing poverty reduction strategies that are informed by this reality. The 1389 – 1393 Strategic Intent of the MRRD has stated the key vision of MRRD is:
To alleviate poverty in rural areas by empowering communities and fostering economic and social development.
The identified objectives of the Ministry are (i) to contribute to poverty alleviation through the delivery of a comprehensive package of services and (ii) to create an enabling environment for sustainable rural development.
The MRRD has initiated a change management process aimed at creating efficient functioning institutional systems focused on achieving new ambitions, building MRRD sustainability and strengthening MRRD departments. This process is based on creating 7 ownership and sustainability, achieving new ambitions and paving the way for a gradual handover of some functions from programmes to departments at the MRRD. One of its key focus areas is the development of capacity throughout the Ministry. The changes that will be instituted, over a period of time, will ensure efficient and achievable deliveries of the MRRD’s mandate.
The Strategic Intent of the MRRD articulates women’s empowerment as one of the cross cutting issues. The MRRD is committed to institutionalizing the gender policy which will be positioned within the context of the ANDS and the National Action Plan for Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA).Through some MRRD programmes; there is already a vast representation of women in community forums as well as beneficiaries of different programme goals. To take this process further and strengthen it, there will be an effort to create a collaborative development of gender mainstreaming procedures and guidelines to be institutionalized across the MRRD departments and programmes and integrated into all practice areas.
Rural development is the key to reconstruction and peace building efforts in Afghanistan.
Currently Afghanistan and specifically Afghan women fall at the bottom of global poverty indices with a Human Development Index (HDI) value of 0.346 and a Gender Development Index (GDI) value index of 0.300. This ranks Afghanistan as the fourth and third lowest in terms of standards of living and gender disparity
2. The MRRD recognizes that there is a need, specifically, to increase the participation of women to ensure that rural development is informed by women’s specific needs and challenges as well as to encourage their active participation in managing these initiatives as a means of building ownership and ultimately facilitating positive social change. It is committed towards the incorporation of equal opportunity principles for men and women with regard access to resources, equal participation and decision making to ensure positive rural development as an efficient mechanism of addressing poverty.
The MRRD will also focus on ensuring that increased representation and participation of women, through the programmes and the departments, will also impact positively in the application of development benefits and inclusive decision making processes for women.