~~Support under Local Economic Development – Afghanistan (LEDA) has three planned outcomes:
• Conducive environment installed for enterprise formation and growth at District level
• Labour market entrants access jobs in or outside the District.
• District Development Assemblies continue to lead community-led planning and service provision in lieu of the formation of District Councils.

The programme will stimulate economic development in SELECT SQL_CACHEed Districts by supporting enterprise growth through an improved business environment at District level, business and productive infrastructure also at District level, and linking SELECT SQL_CACHEed enterprises in value chains with larger enterprises within and outside the Districts concerned. It will also enable labour market entrants from the target District to access decent jobs through vocational training and apprenticeships.

The support will accordingly be designed to kick-start a growth response in SELECT SQL_CACHEed Districts of Afghanistan. This will involve addressing the Districts concerned through a suite of actions which are designed to stimulate growth such that the economy of the District as a whole grows, with attendant effects on job creation and poverty reduction.

It rests on the idea that development policy has been mistaken in treating rural and urban development as separate issues. Traditionally, development policy has adopted a simplified concept of rural and urban areas, with the words rural referring to more remote farming areas and urban to crowded cities. This to acknowledge the important poverty-reducing and growth-inducing interlinkages that exist between rural and urban areas. In contrast, evidence suggests that successful rural development stimulates and supports urban development and vice versa.

The importance of rural-urban linkages has recently been brought into focus by the President of Afghanistan who, in a speech to Parliament in 2015, noted (in translation) that: ‘…another fundamental issue is the distance between the urban and rural [residents] in the country. Security challenges disconnect our people. Making the linkages between villages and cities is the key for stability. …. This is why I want to transform the National Solidarity Programme to an Urban-Rural Solidarity programme so as to make their [urban and rural] participation more visible. The urban share is to create demand for rural products. We import every single product, while 40-60% of our fruit and vegetable products are being wasted. The current situation is not acceptable. Therefore, making strong linkages between villages and cities and provision of the services {at the local level} is part of the plan.

The strategy is therefore based on achieving economic linkages between urban and rural areas in respect of the beneficial effects of urban growth on rural growth and in, in turn, the effects of rural growth on urban growth, which take place within a virtuous circle. As such, the proposed approach is based on three central propositions:

• outside the major cities, there are limits on enterprise growth and job creation resulting from thin local consumer and labour markets, poor infrastructure, constrained linkage to markets, and unreliable or unavailable utilities;

• enterprise development in urban settings is easier and cheaper than in rural areas, due to more reliable utilities, access to other services, better interconnectivity with markets, and thicker labour markets; and

• movement of labour from rural areas to urban areas and out of agriculture is a universal growth path and, given its inevitability, there are arguments for optimising the economic outcomes of these labour movements.

Energy is the key driver for the growth and enhance economic and social development.  To support this we have developed Afghanistan Sustainable Energy for Rural Development (ASERD) project.

The Project 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 due to indoor air pollution using the solid mass 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.

ASERD project 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 create 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 Kuchi communities. Experience from these pilots would be evaluated and mainstreamed into the programme to make the rural energy efforts increasingly self-reliant.