The Mission of the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) is to ensure the social, economic, and political welfare of rural society, especially poor and vulnerable people, through the provision of basic services, strengthening local governance, and promoting sustainable livelihoods. MRRD accomplishes this mission through donor funded national programs in the areas of governance, infrastructure and economic growth.
The Afghanistan Sustainable Energy for Rural Development (ASERD) programme developed by MRRD and UNDP builds on the existing efforts to provide energy to rural areas of Afghanistan. Rural areas of Afghanistan remain socio-economically back-ward in terms of education, incidence of poverty and access to infrastructure. Lack of access to modern forms of energy is having serious health effects in rural Afghanistan which directly affects women and children. Lack of energy access also constraints the productivity of enterprises and limits delivery of public services. Rural areas of Afghanistan are also blessed with renewable energy resources such as water, sun, wind and biomass which utilized using appropriate technologies and institutional approaches could help develop and transform rural areas.
The rural energy programme in Afghanistan have mainly relied on technology driven approaches which have focused on commissioning electricity generating equipment and transferring ownership and operation and utility management responsibilities to the communities. These efforts have also largely ignored the cooking and heating needs of rural population in a country which has cold winters. The opportunities to go beyond household energy to commercial and enterprise as well as public service use of energy have not been utilised effectively. Private sector and financial institutions have only played a limited role in the programme so far and the aspects of policy, regulation, standards and incentive frameworks have also not received considerable attention.
Against this backdrop, the ASERD programme seeks to graduate from the current approach to establish a technology-neutral, sustainable service delivery arrangement to provide thermal and electrical energy in rural areas of Afghanistan. The programme will also provide energy in rural areas to support existing economic activities incomes and to expand public service in rural areas. To deliver these services in rural areas in a sustainable manner the programme will seek to engage the national utility and the private sector. The programme will also develop capacity with the government counterparts, private sector and financial sector. It will also seek to develop national institutional capacity for education, training and human resource development in rural renewable energy. ASERD will also crate frameworks for policy and regulation, testing and quality assurance, incentives and environmental protection to ensure a qualitative and self- sustaining development of the rural energy efforts. The ASERD will also pilot seven innovative energy service delivery models which leverage skillsets and resources from communities, private sector and financial institutions some of which are linked to global financing mechanisms for climate change and energy. These models will also result in benefits to women and the marginalized communities. Experience from these pilots would be evaluated and mainstreamed into the programme to make the rural energy efforts increasingly self-reliant.
The ASERD programme plans to establish sustainable rural energy services in 1100 rural communities in 5 years, providing both electrical and thermal energy. The efforts will bring sustainable energy to over 110,000 households which providing health, economic and social benefits. However the major contribution the programme will make to rural energy in Afghanistan would be to establish delivery models that are technology neutral, leverage additional local and international resources, engage the private sector and financiers to establish a self-sustaining delivery model. The programme will also work to establish the right frameworks for policy, regulation, environmental protection, quality and incentives and develop human and institutional capacity for these delivery models to continue to increase access to modern energy in Rural Areas of Afghanistan.