Stressing the need to capitalize on the current attention to Afghanistan in order to fund its recovery, the top United Nations development official today reported widespread agreement among donors on the urgency of this task.
Mark Malloch Brown, the Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), said a meeting of donors in Washington D.C. on Tuesday had generated "a coming together of minds on the absolute urgency of moving to recovery and reconstruction planning, while acknowledging the continued security difficulties on the ground."
"There was a feeling that we had to capture this moment of this perverse curve, where donor attention and interest is at its high point and yet where the early costs of recovery will be quite modest compared to the ultimate cost," the UNDP Administrator said. Mr. Malloch Brown, who has been named by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to lead the recovery effort, told a press briefing in New York that now was "a very important moment to channel the energy and commitment of donors behind a real plan."
He also stressed the need to ensure that planning and reconstruction were carried out in close consultation with the Afghans themselves. Underscoring the UN’s “very good national capacity” in terms of local staff in Afghanistan, he pledged to maximize this resource rather than rely on international workers.
"What the Afghans have shown at every step of this way is that whatever the internal capacity restraints, there is a huge political and cultural preference to do it themselves," he said. "This is going to look very different from the operations we're all used to, such as East Timor or Cambodia - there are going to be many fewer expatriate workers in white four-wheel drive vehicles."
The UNDP Administrator also emphasized the "indispensable role" of the political process now being led by the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi. "If there is not a broad-based government, it is inconceivable that there can be sustained recovery and reconstruction," he said.