European Union and UN-Habitat sign an agreement on Afghanistsan’s Municipal Governance Support ProgrammeKabul 1 October 2015 – The European Union and UN-Habitat have signed the USD 14 million Municipal Governance Support Programme (MGSP) agreement to support nine Afghan cities with spatial planning, municipal governance and land management. The Programme aims to increase sustainable municipal revenues and strengthen urban management for inclusive service delivery and local economic development.

The three-year programme will be implemented in nine cities: Kabul (the capital); the Regional Hubs of Herat, Jalalabad, Kandahar, and Mazar-e-Sharif; and Kunduz, Farah ,Bamyan and Nili. The programme supports these nine municipal authorities to survey and register all properties within municipal boundaries (over 330,000 properties).This will improve land management (e.g. increase tenure security and reduce land grabbing) as well as significantly expand the potential tax base for municipalities.

The programme is underpinned by the fact that improved municipal governance for state building and peace-building requires three fundamental components:

(i) Effective land management

(ii) Strategic urban planning

(iii) Improved  municipal finance systems/revenue management.

The programme objectives and approach reflects the stated vision of President Ashraf Ghani and his new government, as outlined in the Realizing Self Reliance Framework (RSR) : cities as drivers of economic development; making better use of existing resources; increasing local government revenues for service delivery; stimulating local economic development and investment in cities; and fostering a sense of civic responsibility to strengthen the legitimacy of government and state institutions.

The program also addresses the ambition of the Government to: “provide security and end land-grabbing for the urban poor, by end of December 2015, the government will have launched a national program to survey informal settlements and provide 100% coverage of land tenure certificates in the cities of Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Mazar- Sharif, and Jalalabad”.

At the signing ceremony, Mr. Yoshinobu Fukasawa, Regional Director for Asia Pacific noted that "this programme signals the strengthening of UN-Habitat in Afghanistan. It demonstrates the Agency's capacity and commitment to meet the needs of everyday Afghan men, women and children as well as the needs of the National Unity Government in terms of strengthening sub-national governance for service delivery."

The MGSP programme builds on the success of the Japanese-funded Community-Based Municipal Support Programme (CBMSP) which concluded in March 2015. CBMSP reached over 300,000 Afghans with improved services in the five major cities.

MGSP also builds on the work of the State of Afghan Cities Programme 2015 which produced the first-ever baseline assessment of all 34 Provincial Capitals. The report can be downloaded from here.