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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani addresses international leaders at the 2014 Afghanistan Conference in London, UK. Photo: Patrick Tsui/UK Government/FCDO.


Pledging in Geneva: How much aid, and for what?

This policy note has been written prior to the 2020 Geneva Afghanistan donor pledging conference. It indicates how much assistance donors need to provide over the coming five years to sustain a viable Afghan state. Donors will be pledging against the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework, a country-led strategy that has much to commend it but which needs much greater prioritization.

Published: 12 November 2020

Authors: Nigel Roberts, Khalid Payenda, Eliza Urwin

Key Messages:

  • The basis for this should be a focus on addressing destabilizing grievances. Donors should concentrate their funding on a shortlist of those national programs best able to address these grievances, and on a major short-term job creation effort to counter the nation’s rapid descent into poverty.
  • The draft Afghanistan Partnership Framework, the document which spells out mutual expectations between the government and the donors, is seriously flawed. A realistic, results-oriented redraft would focus on a few measurable indicators of government performance designed to reduce corruption in the use of donor funds, and to improve the performance of key government agencies; in return, donors should provide increasing amounts of their aid on-budget.
  • A dedicated economic dialogue with the Taliban is essential to ensure they are fully acquainted with the nature of the Afghan economy and the realities of government-donor relationships.

This paper is the second in a two paper series, the first of which was published in April 2020 and is available here.

There will be a workshop for donor representatives on Wednesday 18th November - for more information and to register please visit the event page for the workshop here.

About the authors

Nigel Roberts

L4P Consultant and Former Principal Consultant

As L4P’s Principal Consultant from project inception in May 2019 to June 2021, Nigel worked closely with the ODI team to direct the project and set its strategic agenda. Since then, he has continued his association with the project by providing commentary on draft project outputs, and informal advice to the core group. Nigel worked for 30 years in the World Bank, including as an agricultural economist in north and east Africa, Country Manager in Nepal and Ethiopia, and Country Director in Palestine and for the Pacific. He was Co-Director of the World Bank’s 2011 World Development Report on Conflict, Security and Development. Since retiring from the World Bank, he has been working with governments and aid agencies to mitigate the socio-economic effects of prolonged civil war, including in Mindanao, Southern Thailand, Lebanon, Ukraine and Syria. From 2013-16 he was the on-site international delegate to Somalia’s National Financial Governance Committee, and from 2015-18 served as Chairman of the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board for the UN Peacebuilding Fund. Alongside his work for ODI on Afghanistan, Nigel served as a Senior Adviser to the US Congress-mandated Afghanistan Peace Process Study Group in 2020-21.

Khalid Payenda

Research Consultant

Khalid Payenda is an independent research and technical consultant. Khalid is former Deputy Minister of Finance, Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

Eliza Urwin

Research Consultant

Eliza is a research consultant and PhD candidate at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, where her research focuses on processes of governance and statehood in contested spaces. From 2013 to 2017 Eliza lived in Afghanistan, working as a Senior Program Officer for the United States Institute of Peace. There, she managed a portfolio of peace and conflict research and programming, piloting projects and exploring research methods for evaluating program effectiveness. Since leaving Kabul, she has conducted research for the Norwegian Refugee Council and Overseas Development Institute on Taliban justice and the Afghan peace process. Her recent research focuses on participatory methods, in particular focusing on the measurement of subjective, difficult-to-measure concepts, using “Everyday Peace Indicators” to examine dynamics of security, resilience, and governance in Tunisia and Afghanistan.