The Minister of Urban Development and Housing Syed Sadat Mansoor Naderi presented a comprehensive Urban National Priority Programme (U-NPP) at the Special Meeting of the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB) on Brussels Conference on Afghanistan. Prepared in coordination with all urban stakeholders, the Urban National Priority Programme’s process included engagements by more than 20 government and public entities. According to U-NPP the stakeholders participating in the regional workshops included 2,155 CDCs, NGOs, the private sector, women and youth, with female participants forming 32%. Minister further added that U-NPP has been organized under three pillars, with the first pillar focusing on strenghtening of urban governnance and institutions. “A transformation of urban governance is already underway. Our first priority was to end corruption. Under my leadership, MUDH has put 6 corrupt officials in jail. We – not just myself but also my fellow Ministers — have increased the share of young, motivated and highly educated men and women in the government. Their commitment and professionalism are the best medicine against the ways of the past,” he added. According to Minister Naderi, there are 20 new highly professional mayors who have immediately produced a 2.5million dollar increase in revenue that they can now spend on improving their cities. Pointing towards the breakthroughts achieved as a result of the reforms, Minister Naderi said “. Under my watch, MUDH’s development budget execution increased from a pitiful 17% in 2014 to 49% in 2015. On a base that has risen by nearly 300%. By the second half of 2016, MUDH had already spent 50.5% of its budget, with a target of 90% by the end of the year.“ The second pillar of the U-NPP, according to Minister Naderi, focuses on ensuring adequeate and basic urban services to all. “I am proud to say that construction on the largest housing development scheme in Afghanistan’s history will begin in the next two months. 10,000 affordable family homes funded by the Chinese government and another 1,000 supported by the Qatari government,” Minister said. He also added that Khwaja Rawah Township was launched on Friday which will house some 60,000 citizens together with Khushal Khan project comprising of 5,500 privately-funded family homes. Pointing towards the urgent need for housing is especially acute for IDPs and returnees, Minister Naderi said “We have submitted to UNHCR a strategy that will help ensure that adequate housing is extended to all Afghan citizens on equal terms; as we have promised in the ANPDF.” Minister Naderi said the Third Pillar of U-NPP is based on Harnesssign the urban economy and the new NPP is built around partnerships with the private sector, including the Barikaab agro Industrial Park. Concluding his speech during the Special JCMB meeting, Minister Naderi emphasized on the need to create an investment-friendly environment that can attract business and help us build efficiently. “Developing a national program for special economic zones, preparing to finally zone cities and carry out rational land use planning are just some of practical steps already in motion,” he said, adding that “We also need to create jobs. While we improve the conditions for private sector development, we are also implementing the Clean and Green Cities programmes that will create over 10,000 labor-intensive jobs in our six largest cities over the next 2 years.” In other parts of his speech, Minister Naderi emphasized on building trust in the government and pride in ‘our nation.’ as the cities develop, the rich history must be preserved in a bid to make the heritage of the country a driver for development. “The Darulaman Palace rehabilitation is an example of just such a project. We will recover one of our most important historical buildings to anchor a new government complex. This will ease Kabul’s traffic, lessen car pollution, make our nation’s capital a safer more livable city. Most importantly, the project will free up centrally located land for development, making the entire program cost-neutral,” he concluded.
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