Cablegate: Afghan Ministries Organize for Post-Conflict District

DE RUEHBUL #2383/01 2281406
R 161406Z AUG 09




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) Summary: The Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and
Development (MRRD) hosted a second meeting of the new
Afghan/U.S./ISAF/UNAMA District Delivery Working Group (DDWG) on
August 8 at the deputy minister level. The Forum, aimed at
encouraging the creation of a mechanism for the quick deployment of
coordinated, inter-ministerial assistance packages to districts
recently cleared by Afghan and international security forces, made
progress on formulating terms of reference, reinforced the notion
that the initial focus should be on the east and south and tasked
ministries with providing assessments by August 15 of their
potential contributions to assistance packages. Afghan
representatives stressed once again the central role that security
will play in their ability to deploy resources and programs to the
field. Two subsequent sub-working group meetings began the process
of identifying criteria for selecting target districts and gave the
Ministry of Finance an opportunity to present a possible mechanism
through which inter-ministerial packages might be funded through an
injection of U.S. funds directly into the Afghan government's core
budget. This new consultation forum seems to have gotten off to a
good start, but huge challenges remain to formulating and
dispatching assistance to key districts - not least the scarcity of
qualified personnel for ministries to send to the field. End

Second Working Group Meeting

2. (U) At the August 8 meeting, Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation
and Development's (MRRD) Deputy Minister for Programs Barmak chaired
the session, with the Ministries of Finance, Education, Agriculture,
Public Health and Interior, as well as the Independent Directorate
of Local Governance (IDLG), likewise represented at the deputy
minister level. Deputy SRSG Peter Galbraith's assistant Chris
Stevens sat in for UNAMA, and ISAF Deputy Chief of Staff for
Stability RADM Borsboom was in attendance again this week for ISAF.
The U.S. was represented by Interagency Provincial Affairs (IPA)
Coordinator Liberi and USAID Mission Director Frej. For now, at
least, suggestions to expand the membership of the working group
were sidestepped.

3. (U) Discussion of the draft terms of reference for the working
group brought to the fore the issue of whether the group should only
focus on newly cleared districts in the South and East or also
include targets elsewhere in the nation. On that, in the end, there
appeared to be general agreement that the entire country should in
principle be targeted but the initial phases should concentrate on
districts in the South and East. Borsboom, the IDLG's Barna Karimi
and Chris Stevens all brought up the UNAMA-sponsored "Integrated
Approach" to identifying "tipping districts" for targeted
interventions, with the question ultimately left unanswered about
whether or not to synch the two approaches. A number of the Afghan
representatives cautioned that, once launched, we must make our
initiative succeed or risk further damaging the government's

4. (U) Several ministry representatives reiterated that security is
absolutely key to any intervention, as they have packages that can
be applied anywhere, provided the overall environment is secure. To
them, designating which districts to target for ministerial packages
is therefore primarily a function of the ANSF and international
forces indicating the areas they expect to be able to hold
long-term. On the packages, discussion pivoted between the need for
each ministry to determine what it can do in key districts and the
importance of those individual ministry plans being assembled into a
coordinated Afghan government effort. IDLG's Barna Karimi correctly
pointed out that packages will need to be tailored to the individual
district. UNAMA pressed for the U.S. to specify how its assistance
would be funded.

5. (U) Interagency Provincial Affairs (IPA) Coordinator Liberi gave
a short brief on the civilian uplift as it applies to the South,
together with an explanation of the Embassy's new IPA office and the
role of the Senior Civilian Representative. USAID Mission Director
Frej offered a preview of some of the kinds of programs (and their
magnitude) that USAID hopes to deploy. The Embassy team reinforced
the message that, while the U.S. will remain committed to
Afghanistan's development for years, our immediate focus is on
making a difference over the next 12-18 months as part of COIN.

6. (U) Another meeting will be held August 15 at the Deputy
Minister level, with the chair rotating next to the IDLG (The
Ministry of Finance will host the following session). At the next
session, MRRD will seek final endorsement of fine-tuned terms of
reference (para. 10). An initial cut at identifying critical
districts will also be presented along with thoughts on a funding
approach. Finally, individual ministries were tasked to prepare a
notional plan of what they might be able to deploy to targeted

KABUL 00002383 002 OF 004

districts, to include the corresponding costing, logistical and
staffing requirements.

Sub-Working Group Meetings on Identifying Districts and a Funding

7. (U) On August 7 the IDLG hosted a sub-working group meeting on
defining which districts to target for intervention. The discussion
was a bit circular, as the Afghan ministry representatives indicated
they would direct programs to areas the ANSF and international
forces declared secured; while the ISAF representative noted Gen
McChrystal's concern to factor GIRoA priorities into his revision of
the ISAF operational plan. Some general criteria were nonetheless
identified, and the Embassy took these back and is now developing a
short-list of districts in the South and East to present for further
review at the August 15 meeting of the working group. During an
August 13 meeting with IDLG Director Popal and Deputy Director
Karimi, Emboffs reiterated that, in order to select priority
districts, it is essential to know where GIRoA has the capacity to
deliver services and personnel.

8. (U) The Ministry of Finance called together a separate
sub-working group meeting this week where, as expected, Deputy
Minister Mastoor presented a fairly cogent proposal for the U.S. to
channel its funds for integrated ministerial assistance packages
directly through GIRoA's core budget. His plan calls for
establishing a separate code for this funding in the budget, with
allocations under this code going to participating ministries. He
expressed confidence that it would be possible to disburse funds on
a fast-track basis and that delays caused by cumbersome procurement
procedures could be avoided. He suggested that actual disbursements
should be made via MOF offices in the provinces, which would likely
be reinforced with additional MOF personnel to help ensure proper
accounting and oversight. Mastoor called for establishing a
steering committee in Kabul to approve the district packages, though
the involvement of line ministry representatives at the provincial
and district levels would also be key to the success of the program.
Terms of reference for the steering committee as well as an
agreement of some sort between GIRoA and the U.S., perhaps in the
form of an MOU, would be required. In principle, the procedures
would need to be in place by October in order to be folded into the
next Afghan budget cycle, though the Deputy Minister suggested a
bridge funding mechanism could be used if it proved difficult to
meet the October deadline.


9. (SBU) After two working group and two sub-working group
meetings, we seem to be off to a good start with this new forum. It
certainly appears to have succeeded in focusing the minds of key
ministries on the issue of quick, post-kinetic interventions. Next
steps will be agreeing on a small number of districts for initial
focus, as a prelude to a larger rollout in the foreseeable future.

10. (SBU) As far as funding is concerned, the Ministry of Finance
made a good case for its proposal, but the World Bank has also
approached USAID about a possible fast-track Afghanistan
Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) mechanism.
Funding through a capable Ministry of Finance mechanism meets our
goals of channeling a greater share of assistance directly through
GIRoA and ensuring GIRoA remains at the forefront of the District
Development Fund initiative, but the World Bank ARTF option, if
sufficiently agile, offers the proven benefits of World Bank
oversight and enhanced accountability. Depending on further
discussions with the Ministry of Finance and the World Bank, we may
need to consider the ARTF approach or even a hybrid if the MOF
approach alone proves unfeasible and these other approaches can
address the critical need for quick responses to implement this

11. (SBU) It is impossible to overlook the challenges ahead, not
least of which is the lack of GIRoA personnel to put in the field
(the Ministry of Finance even suggested most early implementation
might have to be via NGOs or the private sector - not our preferred
solution if that means GIRoA officials remain invisible in targeted
districts). Another issue we will be addressing shortly is the
inclusion of key allies in this process, particularly the British
and Canadians.

12. (U) Begin text of draft terms of reference

District Delivery Working Group (DDWG)
Terms of Reference

KABUL 00002383 003 OF 004

1. Background
The establishment of this Working Group was agreed in a meeting
between the Ministers of Rural Rehabilitation and Development
(MRRD), Agriculture Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL), Finance (MoF),
and Public Health (MoPH), Deputy Ministers of Education, the
Director of the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG)
and the US Ambassador and USAID Mission Director on the 1st August

2. Objectives to Achieve
The Government of Afghanistan (GoA) has 4 primary objectives to be
achieved through the District Delivery Working Group:

1) The establishment of a cross-ministerial Government presence in
rural districts that have been recently secured as a result of
military operations.
2) The delivery of services to the rural people through an
integrated package of activities which include both governance and
3) Sufficient capacity and capabilities for the Government's
district staff to deliver these services.
4) Afghan leadership guiding this process, supported by the
international community.

The goal is for the Government to be visible on the ground in
post-kinetic districts, delivering services in response to the
priority needs of the local communities.

These activities will create a foundation for stabilization and
prepare the ground for the (re-) introduction of national programs.
This can be used as a model and applied across Afghanistan to
capitalize on the opportunities in recently cleared areas to
successfully hold and build.

Implementation will take place through a phased approach, with an
immediate focus on the post-kinetic, newly secured areas in the
South and East, with the longer-term aim to utilize this model in
other post-conflict districts nationwide.

3. Main Tasks

a) Delivery
-- Devise a multi-sectoral and costed package of immediate
interventions, encompassing a flexible and effective funding
mechanism which maintains acceptable standards of transparency and
-- Develop an implementation approach and mechanism, including
levels of decision making authority - taking into consideration
existing mechanisms

a) State Governance
-- Devise a strategy to strengthen GoA leadership at the district
level and promote positive Government visibility through delivery
and the establishment of productive partnerships with rural
-- Visible commitment by the Ministries' senior management through
regular visits to the areas of implementation
-- Agreement and positioning of Government staff at the regional
level for liaison with Regional Commands
-- Identification and mobilization of staffing requirements for
Government departments at the district level to deliver the package
of activities, including capacity support to develop and strengthen
the necessary capabilities

b) Partnership
-- Definition of relationship, roles and responsibilities between
the Ministries as individual Ministries and as a 'whole of
Government' team
-- Definition of relationship, roles and responsibilities of the 3Ms
together: Ministries, Military, Missions (Embassies, donors, UN etc)

-- Full consultation between partners for the design of the standard
package, with sequenced participation during implementation
according to the level of stability
-- Agreement on and support to a single governance structure for
development activities at the district level

c) Planning
-- Identification of priority districts, through agreed criteria,
for presence and development activities
-- Needs identification plan (with mechanism) - including community
identification of priorities and Ministry needs assessment for
individual ministry activities, through a mobile and responsive
scoping team with a defined Terms of Reference
-- Formulation of generic basic service provision packaged, tailored
according to the results of district-specific needs assessment
-- Implementation plan for the immediate term - to include targets

KABUL 00002383 004 OF 004

and timeframes - including the deployment of staff to the districts
and the delivery of development activities
-- Identification of logistical requirements and successful
allocation/receipt of dedicated transport
-- Capacity development support plan based on available resources
and technical assistance, and the sequencing of inputs, which will
be adjusted to reflect the changing level of stability

d) Communications
-- The DDWG is responsible for all communications with regard to the
presence of Government staff and the delivery of services by the
Government Ministries at the district level
-- Communications will be delivered through the spokesperson of the
relevant Provincial Governor

4. Preliminary Membership

-- Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD)
-- Ministry of Agriculture Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL)
-- Ministry of Finance (MoF)
-- Ministry of Public Health (MoPH)
-- Ministry of Education (MoE)
-- Ministry of Interior (MoI)
-- Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG)
-- U.S.

It is recommended for the Ministry participants to be a Deputy
Minister and 1 key advisor, and for senior representatives from the
international community.

The expansion of the membership to include other Ministries and
donors will be flexible with additional parties included on an as
needed basis.

5. Organization

Due to the need for immediate Government presence and rapid
implementation, weekly meetings will take place, at the appropriate
level, on Saturdays at 10 a.m.

The venue for the meetings will be rotated between the Ministries,
with the host Ministry chairing the meeting and responsible for the
secretariat support. Minutes will be circulated by the close of
business the day after the meeting.

The agenda for following meetings will be agreed at the close of
each meeting.

If the regular members are unable to attend, they must take the
responsibility to fully brief the participants before the meeting
and share previous minutes, to prevent duplicate discussions on
issues that have already been decided in previous meetings.

Sub-committees will be organized to make progress with the tasks
identified by the DDWG.

6. Timeframe

The DDWG has specific tasks to complete in a short timeframe (1-3
months). However, implementation of activities is initially
programmed for one year. This allows for the implementation of
immediate activities to stabilize and hold newly secured areas,
together with the transition in the semi-stable environment to the
resumption of the national development programs.

It remains to be discussed whether, once these tasks have been
accomplished, the DDWG will assume the responsibilities of a project
Steering Committee to oversee project implementation.


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