With more than 10 years of experience in the country, the UNOPS Afghanistan Operations Centre supports national reconstruction and development efforts by providing projects with goods and services - from stand-alone, one-off solutions to long-term management and capacity development support.
Based in Kabul, UNOPS in Afghanistan has sub-offices in every region of the country. The country team, comprising some 400 international and national staff, implements projects in support of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy, in a wide range of sectors such as:
Afghanistan’s damaged road system, itself a victim of years of war and neglect, is a serious impediment to economic growth and local access to vital services.
UNOPS has managed a series of programs aimed at restoring the country’s physical road infrastructure, on behalf of the Afghanistan Ministry of Public Works (MPW) and the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) and with contributions from UK Department for International Development (DFID), Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), European Commission (EC) and others through the World Bank-administered Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), as well as direct contributions from the Ministry of Finance, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Government of Spain, the Government of Japan, the Italian Cooperation Agency (ICA), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Swedish Agency for International Development (SIDA) and the World Bank.
Since 2003, UNOPS has supported MPW and MRRD in the construction and rehabilitation of over 10,000 km of roads, created more than 13 million labor days primarily for rural impoverished groups, and has provided tangible benefits to the rural population in the form of wages and improved infrastructure in all 34 provinces in Afghanistan.
Currently, UNOPS is assisting the Government in implementing the National Emergency Rural Access Project (NERAP). NERAP will provide for the construction and rehabilitation of a further 2,000 km of rural roads. In the process, NERAP will help improve accessibility, integrating the village economy with regional and national markets, leading to better allocation of resources, technology transfer, and higher productivity and outputs.
After the fall of the Taliban regime, the Afghan people and the international community have placed emphasis on rebuilding the education system and its infrastructure. Funded by USAID, UNOPS rehabilitated the 19,000 square meter multi-storey structures at Kabul University Women’s Dormitory, on behalf of the Ministry of Higher Education and Kabul University. The dormitory accommodates up to 1,100 female university students, mainly from the provinces, pursuing their education at Kabul University and the Kabul University Medical School.
Currently, UNOPS is implementing the Kabul Schools Program funded by the USAID on behalf of the Ministry of Education. This program will provide for the design and construction of the Ghazi Boys High School and the Sarder e-Kabuli Girls High School.
The project will provide students with 124 new classrooms, in addition to libraries, computer laboratories, prayer rooms and childcare facilities. The school buildings have been designed in accordance with the most stringent international standards for earthquake safety, as well as electrical safety and fire safety. The buildings also incorporate energy-efficient design components and provide for full disabled access.
The program has also constructed safe drinking water and sanitation facilities at seven high schools in Kabul serving more than 60,000 students. These projects generate hundreds of thousands of labor days for skilled as well as unskilled workers.
Environment and agriculture
The vast majority of Afghanistan’s population relies directly on the country’s natural resources to meet daily needs. Years of internal conflict and unsustainable natural resources use and management have degraded the environment, and poverty and population growth have only increased the pressure on environmental resources.
The Afghanistan Conservation Corps (ACC) program is a multi-donor, multi-agency effort managed by UNOPS and mandated to conserve natural resources and create work for returnees, internally displaced persons, women and ex-combatants through labor-intensive activities. The program involves Afghanistan’s National Environment Protection Agency, Ministry of Agriculture Irrigation and Livestock, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Women’s Affairs and is funded by USAID and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
To date, ACC has implemented more than 350 different conservation projects in 23 provinces, planting more than five million trees and supporting community management of over 2,000 hectares of natural pistachio forest, resulting in an increase in local annual income by approximately 30 percent. The program has also created over 700,000 labor days of employment (of which more than 100,000 for women), supported the establishment of over 680 home nurseries and orchards, and trained government employees and community members from around the country in biodiversity conservation and management, horticulture, forestry, and soil and water conservation.
UNOPS also has gained extensive experience and expertise in irrigation projects in Afghanistan. For example, UNOPS has designed and constructed an irrigation system for Kabul University, which is an enclosed compound covering a total area of approximately 93 Hectares, by replacing a derelict existing pump house, constructing a 500 cubic meter concrete reservoir and installing necessary structures such as pipes, manholes, pressure release valves and drainage.
Governance and rule of law
Afghanistan is a land-locked and mountainous country which shares more than 5,000 km of border with six neighbors. Due to trans-boundary tribal structures, difficult terrain and the presence of members of the militant opposition, some borders are difficult to control where the Government is faced with challenges related to drug smuggling, people smuggling, trafficking in persons and other illicit cross-border activities. In an effort to better facilitate legitimate trade while combating illicit, UNOPS is working closely with the Ministry of Finance – Afghan Customs Department (ACD), Afghan Border Police, and the Ministry of Commerce on the construction of customs and border management facilities in Takhar Province. The efforts are funded by the Government of Japan.
Under the World Bank-funded Emergency Customs Modernization and Trade Facilitation Project, UNOPS also assists the ACD with the improvement of customs administration, construction or rehabilitation of physical infrastructure and the establishment of the Afghanistan National Standards Authority (ANSA). In particular, UNOPS constructed the multi-story ACD Headquarters on Jalalabad Road in Kabul. In addition, UNOPS has supported the development and phased implementation of Automated System for Custom Data (ASYCUDA), and installed necessary ICT equipment at border and inland customs facilities.
UNOPS has also constructed and rehabilitated numerous Government offices and justice facilities throughout the country. UNOPS has completed several prison construction projects for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) since 2005, including the Pol-e-Charki High Security Prison, the Kabul Female Detention Center, the Kabul Juvenile Detention Center, and the Gardez Medium Security Provincial Prison. UNOPS also rehabilitated the Central Prison Directorate headquarters in Kabul following a devastating suicide bombing attack on this facility.