The UK Government will intensify and reinvigorate its civilian effort; increasing the pace of its work and the impact it has on the ground in achieving specific results, in a drive to accelerate progress towards a more stable Afghanistan.
Mr Mitchell is in Afghanistan along with Foreign Secretary William Hague for the Kabul Conference on progress and development in Afghanistan.
He outlined three key areas in which civilian work will be focussed:
- stabilising insecure areas;
- stimulating the economy; and
- improving the effectiveness of the Afghan government.
He said these would be stepping stones towards a more stable Afghanistan.
He also announced additional action to help small businesses, including a £6m Business Challenge Fund to encourage new enterprise.
Andrew Mitchell said:
Using the UK’s aid budget to secure progress in Afghanistan will be my number one priority.
British Armed Forces, alongside NATO and Afghan allies, are fighting hard to push back the Taliban so that we can help Afghanistan stand on its own two feet. We must make full use of this hard-fought effort.
Well-spent aid is in our national interest. Nowhere in the world is this case clearer than in Afghanistan. Whilst the military is there to bring much-needed security, peace will only be achieved through political progress backed by development.
Enhanced activities in Afghanistan will include:
Stabilising insecure areas, by improving policing, local elections and emergency food and medical help. As the building block on which everything else rests, efforts in this area will be increased four-fold, including:
- Working with international partners to help stabilise over 80 key districts by helping to establish local government that is capable of delivering basic services to its people, and linking the informal justice system to the formal one, to reach areas that have until now sided with the Taliban;
- Helping to ensure that forthcoming elections are better planned, with reduced fraud and greater voter participation, to learn lessons from previous elections and ensure that future elections at community, district and provincial level are organised to fairly represent civilians, especially women;
- Investing in improving the quality and effectiveness of the police across Afghanistan. The Afghan people must be able to believe in a police force that can protect them and a justice system that works for them.
Stimulating the economy, focussing on work, business and investment, moving Afghanistan away from dependence on foreign aid, through:
- building the Afghan government’s ability to generate revenue itself, for example through encouraging investment by creating greater transparency in the Ministry of Mines;
- encouraging private sector growth, including by encouraging foreign investment, through a new £6m Business Challenge Fund;
- investing in roads in Helmand, and roads and rail nationally, which will help to provide 20,000 new jobs in transport, mining and other infrastructure;
- extending the reach of the National Solidarity programme to bring community-driven development to improve health, education and job creation to 10,300 communities in hard to reach, more insecure areas.
Improving the effectiveness of the Afghan government by building its ability to deliver services like health and education. Measures include:
- Improving the civil service and increasing our support to tackling corruption at the highest level, reducing corruption in the 10 key spending ministries;
- Getting young people into jobs through technical and vocational training for up to 300,000 people who have never attended school, and increasing vocational training enrolment from 26,000 to 100,000 by 2013.
- Continuing to spend through Afghan government systems, for example helping to pay the salaries of teachers, building on the surge in literacy rates since the fall of the Taliban and accelerating progress towards more than 6m children attending school by 2010;
- Standing ready to increase support for the Afghan government to help it make better use of donor money, including reducing corruption by improving audit and accountability.