Poverty Reduction through Pro-Poor Growth: Ensuring equity in development

Kabul, January 28, 2008 (Gov’t of Afghanistan): After more then two decades of war, the rural people of Afghanistan have suffered from the nearly complete destruction of the country's physical and social infrastructures, as well as the loss of human capital and capacity, through death, migration and the lack of access to even basic education.

Yet today we are witness to rapid, progressive change. Within the last two years we have held Presidential elections, which have recently been followed by our parliamentary elections. Improvements and reforms have also been made in the institutional capacity of our ministries. These amount to real gains in rebuilding our institutions and repairing our social fabric, as we being to take a leading role in confronting poverty. This is the context as we embark upon the interim Afghan National Development Strategy (IANDS).

The preparation of the IANDS is a critical step in our country's continual development, and is consistent with what the globally experience on poverty eradication has taught us: That the prime mover of development must be the country itself. That is to say, that it will be through our own initiatives, capacity and political readiness that true change will come to Afghanistan.

Contemporary lessons in poverty eradication strategies elsewhere have made it clear that successful development strategies have had two common characteristics. First, these countries have initiated their own development, by promoting good governance in launching reforms and building effective institutions, and second, that they have generally promoted two pillars of development. The first has been to promote policy to prepare a domestic environment for investment, productivity and job creation; and the other has been participation of the poor- investing and empowering people, to participate in growth.

These pillars embody processes, and such processes towards poverty reduction are not about redistributing fixed assets to either investors or the poor, but about initiating mechanisms to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, that will include all who can contribute to growth and development, and as importantly, to protect those who cannot. In promoting poverty reduction, our task is to act in ways that encourage these dynamic processes. To achieve this, we must constantly act in ways that allow us to learn more about change and how to promote it. This implies a pro-poor approach to poverty reduction.

Why a pro-poor policy approach?

Having MRRD promoting and implementing more pro-poor policies that are responsive to the needs of the poor emphasises our reorientation. This involves a broader set of national stakeholders including the poor themselves. A pro-poor approach to poverty reduction calls upon the Government and civil society to address the macro economic constraints, the small size of the formal private sector, and the realities of rural poverty, so as to come up with realistic poverty reduction and development strategies, particularly in the rural sector. This approach is presently underway with the current emphasis in MRRD programmes.

The IANDS is to be supported through Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development's (MRRD) pro-grammes promoting responsible social, and financial growth, primarily in the rural non-farm sector. These programmes understand that in the short-term pro-poor growth should be labour intensive and concentrated in deeply impoverished regions. In the longer term these programmes focus on broader sets of pro-growth strategies. Together MRRD's portfolio of programmes, in association with other interventions, addresses the technological, social and financial capital deficits present.

Within the framework of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the basic links between inequality, poverty and pro-poor growth are recognized. The challenges of the MDGs imply the need to provide a means by which the very poor may acquire the tools and assets necessary to participate in growth, through education, health, and creating access through infrastructure and financial services, will itself stimulates the growth process.