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A Roadmap for Subnational Reform: Citizen-Centered Governance

Islamic Republic of
A Roadmap for Subnational Reform
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
July 2018

Subject Page
Executive Summary……………………………………………………………………………………….2
Afghanistan’s Subnational Governance Structure: An Overview………………………….3
Key Subnational Levels…………………………………………………………………………………..4
Summary of Afghanistan’s Regions………………………………………………………………….6
Subnational Governance: Constraints…………………………………………………………… 12
ٍSummary of Subnational Governance Constraints…………………………………………..12
Governar Constraints…………………………………………………………………………………..14
Infrastructure Constraints…………………………………………………………………………….15
Subnational Governance Legal Framework……………………………………………………..16
Government Required Reforms…………………………………………………………………….16
Recommendations/ Next Steps……………………………………………………………………..17

The Government of Afghanistan seeks to ensure the balanced economic and
political development of the country. Over the past decade, we have been able
to strengthen central government bodies, including many line ministries. More
recently, we have also been able to begin to strengthen governance at the municipal
and village levels. However, to fully achieve our goal of balanced development, we
need to develop a comprehensive subnational governance policy.
Balanced development requires the development of three areas: the provision of
security, the provision of the rule of law, and balanced economic development.
These three areas are interrelated. The provision of security requires the presence
of Afghanistan’s security forces in every district of the country. We believe that the
continued development of armed forces will allow for this over time. The tripling
of our air force and doubling of our special forces will allow for force projection
throughout the country within four years. Just as importantly, a new generation of
leaders are taking over senior positions in our military and police forces. Likewise,
the reform of our police forces has begun. We have removed the ANCOP and border
forces from the Ministry of Interior so that we can reorient the focus of our police
from counterterrorism to provision of security for our citizens.
Second, balanced development requires the provision of the rule of law. In Islamic
Jurisprudence, justice is the foundation of the state, and Afghan scholars have a
long history of contributing to Islamic Jurisprudence thought. However, the course
of our history also includes periods where the provision of justice was reduced.
These periods typically coincided with periods of state fragmentation of authority,
resulting from foreign invasions and civil war.
Although there are many reasons for such fluctuations, the key driver of instability
has been the absence of agreed upon rules of the game regarding orderly succession
to the high office. Our constitution, adopted after extensive consultation and
intensive debate, provides the framework for future stability through citizen-based
democratic governance. We now seek to provide a long-term and balanced path,
as required by the constitution, so that we can ensure the provision of justice over
Third, balanced development requires the provision of economic opportunities for
every Afghan citizen, no matter where they live. We have therefore developed an
economic model whereby regional economic institutions and strategies are given
more prominence. We have also recommended reforms at the local level, and
connected the regional economic strategies to the local level. We believe these
reforms provide a framework for the balanced, just, and secure development of
H.E. President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
A Roadmap for Subnational Reform

This Policy begins by providing an overview of each of Afghanistan’s layers of
subnational administration. We then review current constraints to the development
of these subnational entities, including both governance and infrastructure
constraints. The most important constraints include the requirement to update
Local Administrative Law and regulations, revise the provincial and municipal
categorization criteria, and provide improved governance infrastructure at the
district level. Third, we discuss the legal requirements of implementing this
subnational governance vision.
This includes the revisions to the existing Local Administrative Law, Municipal Law,
and Provincial Council Law, to develop two comprehensive laws: Local Administrative
Law and Local Council Law (which will include provincial, district, municipal and
village councils). Forth, we review the Independent Director of Local Governance
(IDLG) and the institutions responsible for implementing a large part of this vision.
And finally, we conclude with a summary of our recommendations.
A Roadmap for Subnational Reform

Afghanistan can be best grouped into 8 economic regions. We have 34 provinces,
387 districts, 165 municipalities, and approximately 45,538 villages. As Afghanistan
has had a unitary system of governance, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) managed
all domestic issues, including police force and all subnational entities. The civilian
component of subnational governance was separated from MoI recently (in
2007), which created the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG).
All governors and mayors now report through IDLG to the President. To manage
these subnational entities, IDLG recommends provincial and district governors and
mayors to the President. Each of these forms a point of contact to the citizens of
our country.
However, there are key issues with the current system of
governance of these subnational entities. First, except for
our military corps, we have not yet used a grouping larger
than a province for the purposes of developing economic
strategies. Second, our provincial governance structure is
not well codified. The management of provinces ranges
from exercise of strong authority by individual governors
to minor coordinating roles by provincial councils to
provinces where management only focuses on security
issues. Third, the reach of government in some districts
is minimal to nonexistent. This creates a vacuum of
security and justice that non-state actors seek to fill.
Municipalities currently have greater clarity. We have a municipal law that
defines the basic parameters of municipal responsibilities. This legislation allows
municipalities to be the only subnational entities that are able to collect revenues
from citizens. And the basic structure of service delivery, if not yet effective, is
at least transparent. However, the Constitution specifies that mayors should be
elected, which they have not yet been. Surprisingly, it is at the most local level where
we perhaps have had the most success. The creation of the National Solidarity
Program, and its successor program (Citizen’s Charter), provides a clear and robust
framework for engaging with villages. Through the creation of village shuras and
the provision of block grants, the Government of Afghanistan has been able to
extend its reach to thousands of villages throughout the country. In addition, the
Citizen Charter program has been expanded to include urban neighborhood. These
subnational levels are summarized in the table below, and then described in greater
detail in the sections that follow.
GovernerLeadership and Management
Provincial Council
Secondary & Third Unit Service Delivery
A Roadmap for Subnational Reform

Department Summary
IDLG was created in 2007 to manage the civilian aspects of subnational
governance. All provincial, district, and municipal entities report through
IDLG to the President.
Seven primary regions of Afghanistan correspond to our military and
police corps. We seek to develop corresponding economic agencies to
promote regional economic growth for these seven regions, as well as an
additional economic agency for the central region.
Afghanistan has 34 provinces. For each province, there is a provincial
governor and directors from line ministries. There are also representa –
tives from the judicial branch located within each provincial headquar –
District administration include district governors, tertiary units officials,
security and defense officials as well as representatives from the judicial
Municipalities There are more than 165 municipalities in Afghanistan, which are gov –
erned under a 2000 Municipal Law.
The NSP and Citizen’s Charter program have helped to institutionalize vil –
lage shuras/Community Development Councils as a primary governance
structure at the local level
A Roadmap for Subnational Reform

Let us begin our analysis by reviewing the largest subnational unit, a region. Regions correspond
roughly to the six ecological zones and five river basins of Afghanistan. Although regions do not
constitute a separate political unit, Afghanistan could have eight regions corresponding to the seven
military and police corps in the country. However, to improve regional economic development, we
will now also use the regional unit for the development of regional economic strategies. There is some
precedence for such an initiative. In Afghanistan, the Helmand Development Authority (HDA) and
the Nangahar Valley Development Authority (NVDA) have existed for decades. Within the Ministry
of Energy and Water, we have five directorates corresponding to each of Afghanistan’s five river
basins. International case studies also exist, including the United States (through the Tennessee Valley
Authority) and Pakistan (through the Lahore Development Authority).
As we have the Capital Region Independent Development Authority (CRIDA), we will implement this
policy decision through the creation of seven additional regional development authorities (RDAs).
Each regional development authority will be responsible for the design, planning, implementation,
and monitoring of development projects in their respective regions. In other words, these entities
will be project owners. Each regional development authority will be constituted as a State-Owned
Corporation (SOC).
The focus on the regional unit will generate a few key benefits. First, we will create greater geographical
balanced economic development. To date, economic programs and policies have been too focused
on the implementation of projects in Kabul and perhaps a few additional provincial capitals. Second,
such a focus will more clearly separate policy-making functions from operational functions. Currently,
ministries spend the majority of their time and resources in the implementation of projects. This
must change. Ministries must be policy-making and regulatory bodies, with state corporations the
vehicles of implementing such policies. Third, regional development authorities will act to improve
complementary development between regions. This will improve transit integration and the
management of regional economic projects that span multiple regions.
Capital Region
E as t R egion
Southeas t Region
South R egion
Cen ter R egion
W es t R egion
North R egion
Northeas t Region
Badakhshan Takhar
K unduz
Balkh Ja wzjan
Fary ab Sar Pul Samang an
Noris tanK unar Laghman
Parw an Kabul W ardak
Log arPak?a Khos t
Pak?k a
Oruz gan
K andahar Helmand Nimr oz
Far ah
Ning arhar
A Roadmap for Subnational Reform
A Roadmap for Subnational Reform
A Roadmap for Subnational Reform
A Roadmap for Subnational Reform
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Region Provinces Population Summary
Kabul, Panjshir,
Kapisa, Ward –
ak, Parwan
This is Afghanistan’s largest region due to the
presence of Kabul. The key economic area of fo –
cus in this region is manufacturing. Key river ba –
sin is Kabul River Basin. This region already has
the Capital Region Independent Development
Authority (CRIDA), which will be the model for
other regional development authorities
Nanga –
har, Kunar,
These regions are closely integrated with the
Center Region and acts as a key corridor for
trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The
region has extensive agricultural resources
(Nangahar), mineral resources (Nangahar), and
horticultural goods (Nuristan). As such, the area
can act as a key transit hub and agricultural pro –
cessing center
Paktia, Khost,
Logar, Paktika,
This region acts as a key transit hub and produc –
es key horticultural goods (e.g. pinenuts)
Helmand, Nim –
roz, Uruzgan,
The region’s key river basin is Helmand River Ba –
sin. The region include large agricultural lands
and acts as key transit areas to both Pakistan
and Iran
Center Bamyan, Dai –
kundi, Ghor 2,022,789
This region is the smallest region, but acts as a
key transport corridor, connecting to six of the
seven remaining regions
West Herat, Baghdis,
Farah 4,040,631
The region overlaps with both the Harirod and
Helman River Basins. The key characteristics
include manufacturing areas around Herat and
key points in trading with Iran and Turkmenistan
Balkh, Saman –
gan, Jawzjan,
Saripul, Faryab
This region corresponds closely to the Northern
River Basin. The key characteristics include key
agricultural areas, trade and transit points with
Uzbekistan, and key hydrocarbon areas of inter –
Takhar, Bagh –
lan, Bada –
This region corresponds closely to the key riv –
er basin of the Amu Darya River Basin. The key
characteristics include key agricultural lands
and strong natural resource capabilities
TOTAL 35,715,106- Thirty Five Million Seven Handred Fiften Thousand one handred
and sex.
A Roadmap for Subnational Reform

These regional development authorities will have a shareholding structure that will
include line ministries, but also include three rotating board members comprised of
one provincial governor, one district governor, and one mayor (in addition to three
independent directors). Representatives from the regions will rotate so that most
provinces, districts, and municipalities are represented over time.
The RDAs will also coordinate closely with all subnational entities, including
provincial and district governors, provincial and district councils, mayors, and
villages shuras. The creation of such economic regional development authorities
will increase overall economic growth, will create improved geographic dispersion
of economic growth, and will create a positive competition between regions. Each
regional development authority will be created as a SOC as soon as possible, but
not later than the end of the 1397 fiscal year.
Afghanistan has a total of 34 provinces. The functions of the central government are
also present at within each province. As per the Law on Subnational Governance,
each of these provinces has been categorized as a Category I, II, or III Province
based on its population and ecological features. This categorization will continue
to be used for base resource allocations. However, IDLG will also lead a process
to assess the practicality of redrawing the boundaries of provinces and districts to
make each entity more population balanced, and which would have large budgetary
and resource allocation impacts.
In addition to this classification system, IDLG will create a set of metrics under three
categories: (1) political indicators: e.g. whether required provincial council elections
been held, (2) economic indicators: size of GDP, rate of growth, economic surveys
of business environment, etc., and (3) social indicators: percentage of children
in school, average years of schooling, health indicators, etc. These scorecards of
metrics will be used as part of the assessment process for the allocation of incentive
In terms of provincial governance, there is a great deal of variability between
provincial management. On the one hand, governors exhibit strong authority in
some provinces. In other provinces, governors sometimes act as coordinators
between various entities. Elected provincial councils act as a check on governor
actions, based on Provincial Council Law.
To codify the actions of Provincial Governors and other provincial executive
authorities, we will revise the Local Administrative Law by the end of 2019. This will
outline the key responsibilities and tasks for provincial governors, district governors
and village Qariyadar. This legislation will complement the proposed Council Law.
A Roadmap for Subnational Reform

Next, let us review governance at the district level. There are a total of 387 districts
in Afghanistan. As per the Law on Subnational Governance, each of these districts
has been categorized as a Category I, II, or III district based on its population,
as well as ecological and social features. This categorization will continue to be
used for base resource allocations. However, we will use the same categorization
used for provinces (i.e. political, economic, and social indicators) to also measure
the performance of districts, as well as for deciding on provincial incentive fund
In addition, we propose the classification of each
district into the following types: (1) Urban, (2) peri-
urban, (3) transit, (4) natural resources, (5) and
frontier. These categorizations can also be used as
a component of measuring district performance.
For example, although a District Governor leads
each type of district, the strategy for each type
of district differs. The needs of urban districts
are vastly different from the needs of natural
resource districts. Just as with provinces, district-
level representatives – including district governors,
district unit heads, and district security chiefs –
will be monitored by their respective councils. A brief description of each district
category is provided below:
• Urban : Urban districts are those that have the highest population densities
and thus require the highest resource allocations.
• Peri-Urban : Such districts surround urban districts, and thus are largely
interdependent on the performance of nearby urban districts.
• Transit : These districts are primarily used as transit points, and do not
include large population centers.
• Natural Resources: These districts have large natural resource endowments,
and therefore required additional resources from the Ministry of Mines
and Petroleum (MoMP), the Ministry of Irrigation and Agriculture (MAIL),
and the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA).
• Frontier: These districts are located away from large population centers, but
sometimes are endowed with natural resources, and can play an important
role in transit corridors. National cohesion requires special attention to
these districts
We must also consider the minimum core functions of administrators at the district
level. At the current time, district governors often view their role as a purely
administrative one. However, their functions must be thought of a broader set of
Classification Urban Peri-
T ransit Natural
A Roadmap for Subnational Reform

tasks. These include:
• Administrative functions: including engagement
with the local community.
• Provision of security: conducting needs
assessments and coordinating with security
• Provision of justice: ensuring that the court
system and AGO representatives must be
present within every district.
• Market development: developing the physical
space for district center markets, as well as connecting district villages with
the district center.
• Service delivery: acting as a coordinator in regards to health and education
Afghanistan has over 165 municipalities throughout the country. Municipalities are
currently governed under the 2000 Municipal Law. Municipalities are also the only
subnational entity that are provided the right to generate revenues. We can see
some positive changes taking place at various municipalities:
• Qala-e-Naw (Badghis): The mayor built a new business center for women,
which was inaugurated by H.E. President Ghani. The business center has
two floors and space for 46 shops for women entrepreneurs.
• Maimana City (Faryab): The municipality recently built an open hall for
occasions such as national gathering or festivals. The hall cost AFN4 million,
which was financed by the Maimana City development budget.
• Charikar City (Parwan): The Charikar municipality was able to improve the
city’s solid waste collection efforts by increasing the number of trash-bins
located in key locations throughout the city.
However, there remain many issues with municipal governance. First, the existing
2000 municipal law is out of date and does not codify the responsibilities of
municipalities and mayors sufficiently. We are therefore in the process of redrafting
the law, which we expect to be finalized before the end of 2018. This includes
making changes to our zoning procedures. Currently, municipalities develop
detailed designs for every district in their respective cities. However, at this pace,
only one-third of Kabul Municipality has a detailed design. We must therefore move
from a rigid detailed design process to a more flexible zoning process.
Second, although municipalities are endowed with the right to raise revenues,
District Governer Rols
1) Administrative
2) Provision of Security
3) Provision of Justice 4) Market Development
5) Service Delivery
A Roadmap for Subnational Reform

some municipalities do not raise sufficient revenues to even pay basic salaries
for the mayor. In conjunction with redrafting legislation, we must also develop a
financial model that provides a sufficient revenue base from which municipalities
can provide basic services.
Third, even for municipalities that are able to generate sufficient revenues, service
delivery remains poor. Trash is often not picked up, and basic roads and infrastructure
are not developed. At the same time, we must recognize that municipalities are not
endowed with the same authorities to deliver services as in many other countries.
For example, power is delivered by DABS, water by AUWSCC, security by MoI, and
justice through Attorney General Office and Supreme Court. Therefore, we must
consider the scope of authorities granted to municipalities. We will therefore
consider a mechanism to provide greater authorities to those municipalities that
show increased capabilities.
Fourth, we will create a municipal incentive fund, with clear
transparency and corporate governance principles, to provide
incentives for the most capable mayors. The same framework
of metrics (political, economic, and social) will be used to
measure municipal for the purposes of granting greater
authorities and for municipal fund allocations.
Fifth, we must consider the demarcation of municipal boundaries. Current municipal
boundaries were mostly drawn decades ago when our cities had much smaller
populations. Because our municipal boundaries have not expanded, this has caused
self-imposed constraints on available land for development, causing housing prices
to unnecessarily increase. ARAZI and IDLG must therefore embark on a program to
assess current municipal boundaries and redraw them where necessary.
Sixth, for Kabul Municipality in particular, we must reconsider its powers. We will
revoke its special status among municipalities. We will also devolve some of its
powers and develop a district model where Kabul Municipality will be divided into
a number of districts and will have a corresponding mayor for each district. In this
way, municipal management will be brought closer to its respective constituencies.
The Kabul Governor will also be given coordination authorities, with CRIDA acting
as the regional development authority. Next, we will codify the role of wakil-e-
gozars and other subnational structures in the new Municipal Law so that roles and
responsibilities of all actors are codified.
Seventh, we must develop a social housing program. Our Ministry of Urban
Development and Housing (MUDH) must conduct a study on housing needs in
Afghanistan, and develop a social housing plan. MUDH will implement this plan
through either a new state corporation, or by corporatizing one of its existing
housing state-owned enterprises.
A Roadmap for Subnational Reform

Afghanistan has perhaps some of its greatest subnational successes engaging with
citizens at the village level. This is primarily due to the National Solidarity Program
(NSP), and its successor program (the Citizen’s Charter). In these programs, we
have been able to provide over $1.5 billion in block grants to more than 45,000
villages across all 34 provinces.
The new Citizens’ Charter Program (CCP) is
a promise of partnership between the state
and the communities. It is a foundation
stone for realizing the Government’s
development vision. The program is a
whole-of-government effort to build state
legitimacy and end fragmentation. The
Charter is a commitment to provide all citizens in Afghanistan with basic services,
based on community prioritization. For the first time, Afghanistan’s urban and
rural community development programs will be joined under the same umbrella.
The Citizens’ Charter Afghanistan Project (CCAP) is one part of the larger Citizens’
Charter National Priority Program.
However, the structure of the Citizen’s Charter program must change to continue
contributing to Afghanistan’s economic and political development. First, to become
a sustainable program, the Citizen’s Charter framework must also consider financial
benefits as part of its project evaluation process. Second, the program must begin
to amalgamate individual villages into larger groupings, and provide larger block
grants to these larger groupings.
This process will help the program to integrate with larger district, provincial,
and regional economic programs. Third, the program must make changes to the
way it supports the agricultural sector. Here, the program must support projects
that support the most important crops (e.g. wheat) where applicable, to focus
on improving crop production and productivity, and to focus on the creation and
support of agricultural cooperatives.
In terms of governance, the village level is managed through the following
governance structure:
• Qaryedar: the sole government representative that works at the village
level. Qaryedars are responsible for administrative affairs of a village,
including issuance of death and birth certificates. The Qaryedar does
not play a role in implementation of community development projects.
Qaryedar is appointed by IDLG, in consultation with CDC members and
community elders.
• Community Development Council (CDC): the representational body at the
village level, which engages in local development planning, implementation
of community projects, and oversight of government service delivery. CDCs
A Roadmap for Subnational Reform

are elected through the Citizens’ Charter and the National SolidarityProgram.
We face a number of constraints to implementing this subnational governance
structure. These constraints flow naturally from the rules as defined by the
Constitution. We have characterized these challenges into governance challenges
and infrastructure challenges. In total, there are nine governance challenges and
three infrastructure constraints, which are discussed below:
Constraint Summary
(1) Subnational
The current legislative environment is not sufficient for subnational governance. The relevant
subnational laws include the (1) Local Administrative Law, and (2) Councils Law, and (3) Munic –
ipal law.
(2) Subnational
Further elections need to be held at the district and municipal levels. District Council elections
will be held by end-2018. Over time, as outlined by the conditions of the municipal law, mayoral
elections will also be held.
(3) Security
Historically, the police have been a large source of corruption and driver of dissatisfaction with
citizens. We must continue to restructure the MoI and retrain our police to reorient them from
a counterterrorism mission to provide security and justice for citizens.
(4) Rule of Law
Provision of the rule of law is the fundamental goal of the government. This requires the pres –
ence of capable and just judges and representatives from the Attorney General’s Office (AGO)
in every district of Afghanistan.
(5) Subnational
Current legislation only allows municipalities to generate revenues, while other subnational
entities such as provinces and districts are unable to raise revenues. Over time, we seek to
allow all subnational entities to raise revenues. In addition, we will create incentive funds for
each subnational level.
(6) Categorization
Provinces and municipalities are currently categorized only by the size of their population and
basic economic data. This can be used for the baseline budget, but we will develop a more com –
prehensive categorization scheme for each subnational entity, which will be used for the alloca –
tion of incentive funds. The categorization will include political, economic, and social indicators.
(7) Service Delivery
Current service delivery remains poor. We will improve service delivery at all levels, including at
the district and provincial level over time. This includes the provision of security, justice, health
services, education, and the preservation of cultural heritage sites .
(8) Community
The existence of provincial councils provides one forum for citizen engagement. We will form
district councils this year, and will launch mechanisms to improve the quantity and quality of
community engagement. This will include citizen performance audits of subnational adminis –
trative performance.
(9) Human Capital
Our Civil Service Commission will create specialized training programs for subnational
governance employees, as well as create a rotational program, so that district and provin –
cial administrators can rotate between new regions as part of their career progression.
A Roadmap for Subnational Reform

Constraint Summary
(1) Governance
The extension of the rule of law, security, and governance requires the
presence of the government in each district. We must provide basic
infrastructure so that our military, court systems, and ministerial repre –
sentatives must be present at each subnational governance level.
(2) Infrastruc –
ture Assets
• Power: The most important infrastructure is the provision of
power. We are rapidly moving forward with connecting all
provinces to the national power grid. We have connected
nine provinces in just the past few months. We plan to con –
nect all provinces to the national power grid by 2020. For
more remote areas, we have developed an off-grid strategy.
• Transport: Every province needs to be connected by safe and
comfortable transit to other regions. This is a key component
of our connectivity strategy .
(3) Natural
• Land: The borders of municipalities and villages must be
clearly demarked. Without such actions, municipalities are
not able to raise revenues or provide services for their citi –
zens. ARAZI must demark all boundaries by end-2019.
• Water: Afghanistan has five major river basins and 45 water –
sheds. These must be managed properly as part of regional
development strategies.
• Mining: Mining assets are contracted centrally, but managed
locally. We must increase the capacity of the MoMP and rel –
evant subnational authorities to manage these resources ef –
fectively, especially in mining districts.
• Forestry: Like mining assets, forestry assets form an import –
ant natural resource that is managed locally. We must in –
crease the capacity of line ministries and subnational author –
ities to manage these resources effectively.
We will develop a framework for removing such constraints over time. The removal
of governance constraints will likely move more quickly, as we can develop required
policies relatively quickly. Infrastructure constraints will likely be removed more
slowly as government and large infrastructure projects are implanted over time.
Details for each type of constraint are provided in the next page:
A Roadmap for Subnational Reform

• Subnational Legislation: Afghanistan currently has three pieces of
legislation that define subnational governance. The first is the Local
Administrative Law, which defines the responsibilities of IDLG and other
subnational entities. As it was drafted many years ago, this law requires
revisions. The second relevant law is the Council Law to define the roles
and responsibilities of the provincial, district, village and municipality
councils. The third law is the 2000 Municipal Law, which defines the roles
and responsibilities of municipalities. This law will be revised.
• Subnational Elections: Afghanistan has a unitary government, which means
that among other aspects, governors are appointed and dismissed by the
President. Afghanistan passed a Provincial Council Law that allowed for
elections of provincial councils, and District Council elections are projected
to occur in 2018. In addition, as per Afghanistan’s Constitution, mayors will
be elected over time. This creates a unique system whereby over time we
seek to have elected mayors, district councils, and provincial councils, but
the President appoints Provincial and District Governors.
• Security: In addition to the rule of law, the provision of security is one of
the key responsibilities of the government. IDLG will coordinate all security
issues with central security agencies.
• Rule of Law: To ensure the rule of law and justice are administered
throughout the country, both court system and the Attorney General’s
Office (AGO) must be located in every district of Afghanistan. Although this
mandate is already part of each organizational structure, due to security
issues, personnel have not been deployed to some districts. We must
therefore provide sufficient security in such districts to ensure that court
and AGO representatives can be located in every province.
• Financing: Current financing arrangements do not allow subnational
entities to raise funds to develop their respective provinces, districts, or
municipalities. There are therefore two changes we seek to implement with
regards to subnational financing. The first is that we will create incentive
funds under IDLG at the regional, provincial, district, and municipal
levels. Second, current financial laws and procedures do not allow for
any subnational entities (except municipalities) to generate revenues.
However, we seek to create positive and healthy competition between
other subnational entities, including provinces and districts, by allowing
them to raise revenues over time. The authority to raise revenues will be
based on subnational entities being able to meet various benchmarks .
• Subnational Categorization Strategy: Based on the current Local
Administrative Law, each Province, District and Municipality is classified
as a Tier I, II, or III entity. This classification is used in resource allocation
decisions. In addition to this classification, we will create a scorecard of
A Roadmap for Subnational Reform

various metrics to measure subnational entities (e.g. political, economic,
social metrics). The scorecard will be used to rank subnational entities for
purposes of allocating funds.
• Service Delivery: Only central government entities
and municipalities currently have the authority to
deliver services. Over time, as other subnational
entities are given revenue generation authorities,
they will also be given the authority to provide
• Community Engagement: The Provincial Councils, and soon the District
Councils, provide an opportunity for citizen engagement. However, we will
consider ways to improve the review and reporting community engagement
• Human Capital: Our Civil Service Commission (CSC) will develop a
specialized training program to train a cadre of civil servants who will work
in subnational governance. The CSC will also create a rotational program
so that civil servants who work in subnational entities will be able to rotate
between regions as they progress in their career.
• Governance Infrastructure: To provide security, justice, and service
delivery throughout the country, the government must have a presence in
each district. We therefore will create a subnational construction program.
IDLG will conduct the needs assessment, and (MUDH) will implement the
required infrastructure.
• Infrastructure Assets: We must provide basic infrastructure assets to each
province. This includes connecting each province to the national power
grid and with one highway connecting it with the rest of the country. Only
in this way can we connect Afghanistan’s provinces and realize our vision to
act as a transport and power hub for the region.
• Natural Resources Management: Effective
natural resource management requires the
ability of subnational government offices to be
aware and manage such resources. ARAZI must
work to more quickly demark the boundaries
of districts and municipalities. Our Ministry
of Energy and Water (MoEW) and Ministry
of Mines and Hydrocarbons (MoMP) must
provide greater resources to natural resource
(mining, agriculture) districts. Our Ministry of
A Roadmap for Subnational Reform

Agriculture (MAIL) must improve the management of forestry assets.
The first implication of these existing constraints is that Afghanistan’s government
has not been able to project governance to some districts. As a result, the rule
of law, security, service delivery, and community engagement is lacking in many
districts of Afghanistan. Non-state actors have sought to fill the power vacuum left
by the government. We seek to reverse this trend methodically by removing all
governance and infrastructure constraints over time.
A strong legal framework is required to codify the roles and regulations of all actors
and institutions responsible for subnational governance. Afghanistan currently
has three pieces of legislation that define subnational governance. The first is
the Local Administrative Law, which defines the responsibilities of IDLG and other
subnational administrative entities. This law was drafted decades ago, and requires
substantial revisions. The second relevant law is the Provincial Council Law, which
was relatively recently passed and provides a framework for Provincial Councils. The
third law is the 2000 Municipal Law, which outlines the roles and responsibilities
of municipalities. This law is currently being redrafted.
At the provincial and district level, there is no corresponding legislation or regulations
that codifies the roles and responsibilities of the various administrative entities.
This is due primarily to the historical unitary structure of the Afghan state, under
which the Ministry of Interior solely managed subnational governance entities.
To further develop subnational governance structures, we will revise two laws
(the Local Administrative Law and the Municipal Law) and draft the Councils Law.
In terms of municipal legislation, we have already conducted a robust review of
municipal models in five other countries. In the new municipal legislation, we
will make changes to the municipal governance structure, planning and land use,
financing mechanisms, methods of infrastructure provision, and service delivery
In terms of new legislation, we will pass Councils Law, Local Administrative Law
which will include district and provincial administrative law. The Council Law will
include provincial, district, village and municipality councils and will provide the
framework for the upcoming District Council elections. The other two new laws will
define the roles and responsibilities of actors at the provincial and district levels.
To implement this subnational strategy, a series of government reforms are
required. The most important required reform is to redefine the relationships
between central government ministries and provincial entities. Initially, we seek
to have a model where central government ministries focus more on policy-making
and national priority programs, regional development authorities are responsible
A Roadmap for Subnational Reform

for project implementation, and subnational entities play a
coordinating role. Over time, we expect that subnational entities
will play a larger role in directly generating revenues and project
Second, we must consider the relationship between the
Presidency, subnational units, and the Independent Directorate of Local Governance
(IDLG). The Presidency acts through IDLG to administer subnational entities. IDLG
was created in 2007 to separate the civilian aspects of governance from the Ministry
of Interior. It has three offices of deputy ministers, 18 departments, and six national
programs for its sub national governance programs. In the local level, the office is
comprised of 34 provincial governor’s offices, 387 district governor’s offices, 165
provincial municipalities, and 34 provincial councils.
Over time, we seek to provide greater autonomy for each of these subnational
entities. However, such autonomy must be aligned with the proper incentive
structures. If not done correctly, greater autonomy can lead to the same challenges
that Afghanistan faced in previous episodes of decentralization.
As a result, our strategy will create benchmarks against which subnational entities
will be measured. As municipalities, districts, and provinces meet such governance
benchmarks, they will be provided additional funds through newly created incentive
funds. We will also utilize such a process for determining the election of mayors, as
required by the constitution. This process will naturally lead to the downsizing of
IDLG as such subnational entities gain greater autonomy.
At the same time, IDLG must develop the capabilities to implement the core
functions of the state at the subnational level. For some of these functions, such
as administrative control, the Presidency (through IDLG) will have the primary
responsibility for implementation. For other responsibilities, such as the provision
of security, the creation of citizen rights, and the formation of a market, IDLG must
play more of a coordination and facilitator role. These functions should not require
an expansion of IDLG resources or size of tashkeel.
This roadmap provides a strategy on how to improve the performance of
Afghanistan’s subnational entities. We now provide recommendations across seven
key areas:
(1) develop the required legislation to codify responsibilities of each subnational
entity, (2) create a subnational governance committee under the High Council
on Governance and Anti-Corruption, (3) hold national consultation process
on potentially redefining borders of provinces and districts, (4) create seven
additional regional development authorities to develop and implement projects
A Roadmap for Subnational Reform

in each respective region, (5) implement subnational financial reform, including
the creation of incentive funds and, over time, allow subnational entities to raise
revenues, (6) create a subnational construction project to ensure the presence of
the government in each district of Afghanistan, and (7) create a subnational human
resources development program. Details for each recommendation is provided
• Develop required subnational legislation: Revise Local Administrative Law
and Municipality Law and draft Councils Law. These laws will: (1) clarify and
codify the roles and responsibilities of all subnational actors, (2) will provide
a new additive framework for categorizing provinces and municipalities,
and (3) institutionalize and provide the rules for the creation of incentive
funds at the regional, provincial, and district levels.
• Create subnational governance committee: Under the High Council on
Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption, IDLG will create a subcommittee on
subnational governance. IDLG will chair this subcommittee, and members
will include the Ministry of Finance (MoF), Ministry of Economy (MoEc),
Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD), Ministry of Urban
Development and Housing (MUDH), Afghanistan’s land authority (ARAZI),
and the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission
(IARSCS). The committee will identify issues related to governance,
subnational construction issues, and incentive fund recommendations, and
present recommendations to the High Council on Rule of Law and Anti-
• Hold a national consultative process on potentially redefining borders
of provinces and districts: There is currently a lack of equality in the
population of the drawing of borders between provinces and districts.
IDLG must manage a stakeholder consultation process to identify whether
current provincial and district boundaries should be redrawn based on the
principle of equality of population. IDLG should develop standard criteria
and develop standard processes for potentially redistricting such entities.
They should consider criteria such as the minimum population sizes and
equity of resource allocation between provinces and districts. In addition,
ARAZI and IDLG should start the redistricting of municipalities.
• Create Regional Development Authorities: We will create seven Regional
Development Authorities (RDAs) to improve economic planning and
coordination. The RDAs will plan, design, and implement projects within
each respective zone. These RDAs will be formed as State-Owned
Corporations (SOCs), and not as an administrative unit. The RDAs will
coordinate their activities with line ministries and with each subnational
layer entities. A key goal of the RDAs is to allow for the separation of policy
and operations, with line ministries focusing more on policy, and RDAs
focusing on the implementation of projects.
A Roadmap for Subnational Reform

• Implement subnational financial reforms: To create incentives for reforms
at the subnational level, three incentive funds will be created under the
leadership of IDLG: (1) Regional Incentive Fund, (2) Provincial Incentive
Fund, and (3) District Incentive Fund. These funds will allocate resources
based on clear metrics and proposals provided by subnational level entities.
In terms of process, each subnational entity will provide their project
proposals to IDLG, who will then present the proposals and allocation
recommendations to the High Council on Governance and Anti-Corruption.
Second, over time we will move towards a model whereby provinces and
districts will be able to raise revenues. The ability to raise revenues will be
based on various criteria (including political, economic, and social metrics),
and will be approved by the Ministry of Finance and the High Council on
Governance and Anti-Corruption.
• Creation of a subnational governance construction project: To ensure
the presence of the government within each district, we will create a
construction project under the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing
(MUDH). IDLG will provide their requirements and coordinate with MUDH
in the identification and implementation of such projects. The goal is to
ensure that the government is represented in each district of Afghanistan.
• Create a Subnational Human Resources Development Program: Our Civil
Service will create a distinctive career path and associated specialized
training program for civil servants who will serve within subnational
governance structures. This will create a predictable career path where
civil servants would be rotated among subnational entities. This training
program should include a component to support women who embark on
this career path.
Implementing these changes will be challenging – but if done correctly – has the
capacity to improve service delivery and governance throughout Afghanistan.
This report provided a roadmap for how we aim to improve governance at the
subnational level. We have discussed the existing subnational governance structure,
the constraints limiting the ability to improving service delivery, and our strategy for
removing such governance and infrastructure constrains to ensure better services
delivery for Afghanistan’s citizens.
The Governance Committee of the High Council on Rule of Law and Anti Corruption
will present an implementation plan that will include complete explanation on
activities and timelines in a period of week after its endorsement by the Cabinet of
the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
A Roadmap for Subnational Reform