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Touching people’s lives - with SPAD…

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Afghanistan, Infrastructure

Local governance in Afghanistan is full of acronyms – PDP, DCC, DDA, PGO to name just a few – and SPAD is the latest addition. Admittedly, UK civil servants when they hear "SPAD" will not think of a programme that helps local government work more effectively, but of special advisers to ministers. However, the name encapsulates exactly what the programme stands for: Strengthening Provincial Administration and Delivery. It delivers services such as health and education to local people and does this in a way that strengthens government systems, so that, when donors leave, the government can deliver these services itself.

SPAD is the first donor programme that uses the government’s "normal" budget procedures. Whilst we make sure that our funds are safe, this gives the government and local people much more of a say on what the money should be spent on. In Helmand where the programme has been running for a while now, every year the authorities and local people get together to plan how best to spend their budget from SPAD.

For example, in Nehr E Seraj district, the district authorities and the elected district councillors decided to prioritise the refurbishment of Abo Al Fathi Bosti School. The reasons for this being that the school is considered one of the best boys high schools in Gereshk, has a large number of students (434), sufficient teachers and is in a secure area. Before, the school building was in very poor condition with broken windows and doors, but with the SPAD funds, the education authorities were able to contract a local firm to undertake the repairs. The procurement process was televised and transparency was ensured with public signing of the contracts. The building is now in good condition and open.

The refurbished Abo Al Fathi Bosti School in Nehr E Seraj district.
Students at the Abo Al Fathi Bosti School in Nehr E Seraj district.

Other projects that SPAD has paid for included building a major health clinic, setting up a blood bank and improving the main irrigation canal in the province. For this year, 26 ministries in Helmand have been allocated funding to improve service delivery, including some initiatives to improve women’s rights.

As the programme has been so successful in Helmand, we wanted to expand the programme in order to reach more people. I therefore travelled to Uruzgan and Bamyan to see for myself what the needs are in these provinces and whether SPAD could make an impact there.

More about that in my next blog post!

Darvishan Canal in Garmsir – the main irrigation canal in the province that was maintained by the Ministry of Power and Water with SPAD funds.

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  1. Comment by Darian posted on

    Great to hear about the different ways that DFID is touching Afghans and making a real difference.

  2. Comment by Jessica Street posted on

    It's great to see that DFID is working with local capacities in Afghanistan to promote the long-term sustainability of their projects as well as being inclusive of local stakeholders. I think that lack of sustainability is one of the greatest challenges facing development 'projects' that ignore the local governance structures that beneficiaries will inevitably rely on in the long-term. I was wondering whether this is something DFID is aiming to incorporate into more of its development initiatives in other countries?

  3. Comment by Duncan posted on

    I hope that SPAD will expand across Afghanistan so that DFID can touch Afghans in other places and bring happiness and positive outcomes