The United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-Habitat, is the United Nations agency for human settlements.  It is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable communities, towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all.  The main documents outlining the mandate of the organization are the Vancouver Declaration on Human Settlements, Habitat Agenda, Istanbul Declaration on Human Settlements, the Declaration on Cities and Other Human Settlements in the New Millennium, and Resolution 56/206.

By working at all levels and with relevant stakeholders and partners, the agency contributes to linking policy development and capacity-building activities with a view to promoting cohesive and mutually reinforcing social, economic, environmental and countries’ policies and programmes in human settlements in conformity with international practices and covenants.

UN-Habitat Afghanistan

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-Habitat, has been working within Afghanistan since 1992 with funding support of USAID, Japanese and Australian Governments, EU, DFID, CIDA, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Kingdom of the Netherlands and several bilateral donors as well as the World Bank.  During this period, its Programme expanded to include a wide range of human settlements initiatives, from small-scale neighbourhood level improvement schemes to community empowerment.

UN-Habitat has been assisting the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan through a number of projects, both urban and rural, supported by different donors:

UN-Habitat is supporting the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) to implement the National Solidarity Programme (NSP).  Currently UN-Habitat is directly engaged in facilitating this programme in more than 20 districts of nine provinces. UN-Habitat is partner with the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock to take up the role of Facilitating Partner in implementing the On-Farm Water Management project in the establishment of irrigation associations in two provinces (Bamyan and Nangarhar), out of five provinces covered by the OFWM Project, and contributes in improving agricultural productivity.

The Afghanistan Urban Peace-building Programme (AUPP) funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Kingdom of the Netherlands, operates for three years (April 2015 to March 2018) and is predicated on the vital linkage between state-society relations, local government capacity, and basic service provision in strengthening safety and security.  It will provide direct assistance to the development of state capacity at the sub-national level, focusing on municipal administrations in eight of the country’s most strategic cities.  By concentrating on the urban terrain of peace-building and state building, the programme will strengthen the production of public goods, especially security, improve local government responsiveness and accountability, and strengthen partnerships with communities, civil society, and security providers, contributing to collective efficacy– all of which are central peace-building and state building goals in the New Deal.  The programme complements the international community’s efforts to support a highly centralized state building approach, with a bottom-up strategy that builds the state out from community and sub-national levels.

UN-Habitat rolls out a Municipal Governance Support Programme (MGSP), funded by EU in nine cities: Kabul, Herat, Jalalabad, Kandahar, and Mazar-e-Sharif (Grade A cities); Kunduz and Farah (Grade B); and Bamyan and Nili (smaller but fast-growing and strategic cities).  The Programme will support these nine municipal authorities to survey and register all properties within municipal boundaries.  This will improve land management (e.g. increase tenure security and reduce land grabbing) as well as significantly expand the potential tax base for municipalities.  To facilitate the strategic and sustainable use of local revenues, the Programme will support municipalities to undertake strategic urban planning at municipal level to promote Local Economic Development (LED), stimulate investment and expand inclusive service delivery.  As Afghanistan is rapidly urbanizing, such strategic planning is an essential tool for managing urban growth and expanding access to services in already crowded and largely-informal cities.  The Programme will also improve the enabling environment for municipal governance by providing technical support to central government-level authorities, including the General Directorate of Municipal Affairs (GDMA), the Afghan Land Authority (ARAZI), and Ministry of Urban Development Affairs (MUDA), to improve national policies, legislation and guidelines.

The Future of Afghan Cities (FoAC) which is being generously supported by the Government of Australia and UK (DFID), will harness the opportunities, momentum and success of SoAC 2014/15 by providing technical assistance to MUDA, IDLG/GDMA, Kabul Municipality, and the Afghan Land Authority (ARAZI) with the preparation of the National Urban Priority Programme (U-NPP), and undertaking an assessment of five key city regions of Kabul, Herat, Mazar, Kandahar and Jalalabad.


The Kabul Strengthening Municipal Nahias Programme (K-SMNP), is funded by USAID and operates for four years (May 2016 to April 2020).  The programme is underpinned by the fact that harnessing Afghanistan’s cities for state building and peace-building requires three fundamental components: (i) effective land management and clear land rights and responsibilities; (ii) strategic urban planning to guide investments and establish a common vision for an inclusive and prosperous urban future; and (iii) improved municipal governance and citizen engagement and representation.  Together these create the fundamental conditions for improved state-society relations, stimulating the urban economy, promoting investment, increasing the legitimacy of the state in the eyes of the citizens and strengthening municipal institutions.  The action will support Kabul municipality to survey and register all properties within its municipal boundaries i.e. residential, commercial and institutional properties plus vacant land.  This will improve land management by increasing tenure security and reducing land grabbing as well as significantly expanding the potential tax base.  Aligned with the land survey will be street addressing, house numbering/street lighting which are essential for improved urban management and increasing citizen’s socio-economic inclusion.  The K-SMNP dovetails with the EU funded MGSP, which follows a similar approach and will be implemented concurrently.

The Clean and Green Cities (CGC), is funded by USAID and operates for two years (July 2016 to May 2018).  The purpose of this Grant is to provide a basic labor stimulus and stabilization package for nine strategic Afghan cities. The overall objectives of the grant are to (1) improve state –society relations where urban citizens see municipalities delivering basic neighborhood services; (2) establish a cleaner, safer, and healthier urban environment and public spaces; (3) improve urban and household economies, especially for the most vulnerable households, including at risk youth; and (4) increase private sector confidence and investment. CGC will invest in labor intensive urban clean-up, repair, beautification, and basic solid-waste management activities. The expected impacts are: (i) improve well-being of citizens and urban environmental quality, (ii) increased trust between citizens and municipalities and strengthened government legitimacy, and (iii) augmented economic and labor stimulus to the poorest households which will have multiplier effects on the urban economy, (iv) Increased private sector confidence and investment for job creation

Operations Section, UN-Habitat Afghanistan Programme is responsible for providing professional, timely, accurate, effective and efficient support to the country office programme by ensuring that financial resources are unitized in the best interest of the organization and in line with UN rules and regulations. The Operations Section comprise of Finance Management, Human Resources, Procurement, Office Management, Grants/Contracts Management, Information Communication Technology and Security and Safety Units

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