Afghan First Gets the NATO Seal of Approval
“Afghan First” is a phrase regularly used by Peace Dividend Trust staff to explain the importance of keeping money designated for Afghanistan spent IN Afghanistan not ON Afghanistan. But now the Afghan First Policy message is being shouted out from the highest circles.
The U.S. Embassy and U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) issued an Afghan First Policy earlier in 2010, signed by U.S. Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry and the Commander of ISAF General McChrystal. But it’s the NATO press release this April that has really caught the media’s attention. The official statement covers how the policy supports Afghan economic development, the benefits of local procurement [the promotion of sustainable economic development through job creation, building economic capacity, developing the private and banking sectors, encouraging the development of infrastructure and generating tax revenue to support the delivery of services to the people of Afghanistan] and the use of NATO common funds.
It is hoped that the policy will result in increased demands for Afghan goods and service provision from ISAF. Great news for Afghan business owners and PDT.
The military are increasingly realizing that the restoration of peace and stability through job creation and private sector development is something they can assist whilst increasing the impact of their mission. With big purses and demand for goods and services including; road building, solar energy, fuel, mineral water and mobile phone cards, they are a buyer whose spending power should be harnessed to create the biggest impact possible on the local economy.
NATO/ISAF is the single largest spender in Afghanistan but any organization of any size can increase their impact through the adoption of Afghan First. PDT-A has been looking at the benefits of the institutionalization of Afghan First Policy at the organizational level and has found some great benefits:
- Business Insulation. Staff turnover is frequent in post-conflict environments like Afghanistan and the good work of one individual may not continue when s/he leaves the organization or the country. A well-designed procurement policy helps ensure that local procurement is insulated from personnel turnover.
- Greater Participation and Consensus. Taking the time to develop a Afghan First Policy promotes the sharing of information and leads to more collective effort, greater consensus, and improved results.
- Solid Foundation for Further Action. When written into formal policy, local procurement is given a degree of priority within an organization. An action plan and commitments to tracking performance through benchmarking are also enhanced by formalization through an Afghan First Policy.
- More Opportunity for Public Recognition and Peer Leadership. Policies are concrete, measurable, and media-friendly. Stated policies are external flagships of action and can be advertised as concrete results of program interventions.
So if you are an organization in Afghanistan who is interested in becoming more innovative with your procurement procedures and want to follow in the footsteps of some high impact buyers, contact our team on Afghanistan@pdtglobal.org for more information.