By: Takashi Okada and Abdallah Al Dardari

Afghanistan is going through a transformative period in its recent history. For the first time in decades, there is genuine hope that peace is on the horizon.

However, even if the peace process succeeds, it will not be the end of Afghanistan’s challenges. The country is still in need of continued international support to build its economy and develop its infrastructure. More than four decades of conflict have damaged the country’s fragile infrastructure and hampered its social and economic development. Despite major progress in the past two decades in access to education, improvements in healthcare and rebuilding of infrastructure, Afghanistan will need the support of the international community for many more years as it continues to develop socioeconomically.

At the 2020 Geneva Conference on Afghanistan, the international community once again pledged their support for a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan. Despite the economic slowdown and major challenges facing donor countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the international community once again pledged a multi-billion-dollar support package for Afghanistan until 2024.

Among the new pledges, Japan, through Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi has committed up to 180 million USD each year until 2024 for the development of Afghanistan. The Pledge during Geneva Conference is directly linked to the new Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF II) and Afghanistan Partnership Framework (APF), and it is related to expected improvements in Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption.

Japan has always assisted the people and government of Afghanistan through times of peace and armed conflict, including providing assistance to Afghan refugees. Japanese people such as Sadako Ogata and Tetsu Nakamura are well-known in Afghanistan because of their selfless work for the people of Afghanistan. Nakamura, who lost his life serving the people of Afghanistan, was granted honorary citizenship of Afghanistan and was affectionately nicknamed by people in eastern provinces as ‘Kaka Murad’ (Uncle Murad).

Since late 2001, Japan has been among Afghanistan’s largest donors. Japan hosted two pledging conferences on Afghanistan in 2002 and 2012 and contributed about 6.9 Billion USD since 2001 for the development of the country.

UNDP has been one of the main partners responsible for implementing Japanese funds since 2001. Japan has assisted Afghanistan through UNDP in various fields including the security sector, rural development, human capacity development, elections, infrastructure, and regional integration. Among these varieties, Japan has been one of the reliable partners to security sector development and reform through Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan (LOTFA). The latest Japanese funding for LOTFA is 74.5 million USD which will support the salary payment of the Ministry of Interior personnel and female police training program in Turkey. This new funding will enhance the security sector and play an essential role in Afghan-led nation-building as we gaze at peace on the horizon.

Last year, the Embassy of Japan and UNDP signed a new chapter for the LITACA project, officially known as the “Project for Livelihood Improvement Promotion in Tajik-Afghan Cross-Border Areas.” Japanese contribution to regional integration and Afghanistan-Tajikistan cross-border economic activities is one of several examples of effective and sustainable investment conducted with a long-term vision for prosperity in the region.

UNDP and Japan are committed to building upon the partnership and collaboration of the past two decades in order to help Afghanistan achieve peace, prosperity and self-reliance. We will work together to help the government and people of Afghanistan overcome old and arising challenges. We truly hope that this new support will contribute to bringing about as many joyous smiles among Afghan people as possible.

Authors

  • Mr. Takashi Okada is the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Mr. Okada is a career diplomat with more than 3 decades of experience in the Japanese foreign service. He has previously served in senior positions such as Minister Plenipotentiary, Embassy of Japan to the United Kingdom; Deputy Director, Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office; Deputy Director-General, Foreign Policy Bureau; Ambassador in charge of UN Affairs and Cyber Policy; Assistant Vice-Minister (Parliamentary Affairs) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative; Permanent Mission of Japan to the International Organizations in Geneva; and Director of European Policy Division.

  • Abdullah Al Dardari is UNDP’s Resident Representative for Afghanistan. Before joining UNDP, Mr. Dardari served as the Deputy Prime Minister and Chair of State Planning Commission of Syria, a Senior Advisor to the World Bank, and Deputy Executive Secretary and Chief Economist of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia. Mr. Dardari holds an MA in international relations and economics from the University of Southern California and London School of Economics (LSE) and a doctorate in economics from Richmond University in London. He is currently a Post-Doctoral research fellow at IUAV Architecture University in Venice, Italy.