Afghanistan—Strong Hubs for Afghan Hope and Resilience (SHAHAR)

Client: U.S. Agency for International Development

Duration: 2014-2021

Region: Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Country: Afghanistan

Solutions: Governance Fragile States

Our Strong Hubs for Afghan Hope and Resilience (SHAHAR) project worked to create well-governed, fiscally sustainable Afghan municipalities capable of meeting the needs of growing urban populations. Targeted support to municipal governments, as well as to the Deputy Ministry of Municipalities (DMM) and Municipal Advisory Boards, improved municipal financial management, urban service delivery, and citizen consultation. SHAHAR increased the capacity of the DMM to support and monitor the performance of municipalities. SHAHAR helped to develop and implement key supporting laws and regulations. To broaden and sustain its impact and to improve knowledge-sharing, SHAHAR developed support and learning networks among organizations and individuals that play key roles in governance and municipal service delivery.

Sample Activities

  • Assist the DMM in organizing national, regional, and district municipal conferences for sharing best practices and lessons learned.
  • Provide technical assistance to each municipality to increase revenue and manage expenses so that they can maintain a healthy, balanced budget.
  • Prepare and implement capacity-building plans for municipal officials.

Select Results

  • Municipalities successfully bid out and completed 39 projects worth more than $2 million; projects included building bus terminals, renovating parks and sports fields, and improving drainage.
  • Trained 7,960 municipal staff in core areas.
  • Employed 666 interns in the municipalities, in DMM, and in the SHAHAR offices to train the next cadre of municipal officials and provide necessary employment opportunities for recent graduates.
  • Helped municipalities generate more tax revenue. Municipalities with less-vibrant local economies and asset bases showed the highest revenue gains at 82 percent, on average. Tax revenue increases in Puli Alam in the North Region and Feroz Koh in the West, for example, showed total increases of more than 259 percent—a more than tripling of tax revenues and a substantial increase for both recurrent and development spending.
  • Established Municipal Advisory Boards of citizens in 20 partner municipalities, all of which also developed and are implementing economic development plans and solid waste management plans.
  • Implemented 141 public-private partnerships, outsourcing government services to private businesses.
  • Established 14 Citizen Service Centers, aimed at improving the two-way communication between citizens and municipal officials, which registered 329,677 inquiries from citizens.
  • Increased the revenue in SHAHAR municipalities by 40 percent, with fixed revenue (consistent revenue based on long-term).
  • Held two Annual National Mayors’ Conferences, resulting in the establishment of the National Municipalities Network and the commitment on the part of the Afghan government and all 33 provincial mayors to move forward with the establishment of the Afghanistan Municipal Union. The Afghanistan Municipal Union will serve as a platform for Afghan mayors to advocate for resources and will provide opportunities for mayors to exchange ideas and share best practices.
  • Established the Integrated Financial Management System in 20 partner municipalities, automating many of the functions related to business licensing, land parcel registration and safayi (municipal service charges) billing and collection.
  • Piloted a street addressing and house-numbering project in district four of the city of Herat Herat and district six of the city of Mazar-e-Sharif, making neighborhoods safer and more professional.


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