Estonia's contribution to rebuilding Afghanistan
The civilian component
Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries on earth and its human development statistics are among the world’s lowest. A large part of the country’s population lives in extreme poverty, especially widowed women and their children. Close to 70% of the people are illiterate and 46% of Afghan children lack access to education.
The biggest development challenges are prolonged instability and a lack of security. Achieving stability is a prerequisite for sustainable development. Yet the challenges Afghanistan and the entire international community are facing cannot be solved by military means alone. For rebuilding a state, close co-operation between civilian and military actors is crucial. Estonia considers close co-operation between international organisations (including the UN, the European Union and the NATO) to be very important.
Afghanistan needs a great deal of aid and Estonia’s contributions to helping one of the world’s poorest countries are very welcome. Estonia’s activities in Afghanistan are based on an Afghanistan plan that is also reflected by the development co-operation action plan approved by the Estonian government. The development co-operation action plan covers the period from 2011 to 2015, and in it Afghanistan is named as one of the priority partners for development co-operation.
In 2013 the Foreign Ministry has allocated 1 000 000 euros for carrying out development co-operation projects. The support Estonia has given to Afghanistan between the years 2002 and 2012 totals over 6 million euros in value.
Estonian assistance given within the framework of development co-operation and humanitarian aid thus far:
- 64,000 EUR from the Estonian Red Cross in 2002 for sending bed linens, mattresses and first aid kits to Afghanistan.
- A total of 70,000 EUR in voluntary donations to support the UN High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR) in 2002, 2003 and 2007 in easing the situation of refugees in Afghanistan.
- 42,000 EUR toward the fight against narcotics in Afghanistan. The funds went to the Counter Narcotics Trust Fund (CNTF) in December 2005. The fund was created with the goal of providing the Afghan government with more opportunities to implement their strategy to fight against narcotics, and it is managed by the UNDP.
- Donations through the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in 2007 for the Afghanistan Population and Housing Census project and in 2009 through the UNDP project “Elect” to help support the presidential and local elections; each time around 32,000 euros.
- 32,000 euros to the Afghanistan Peace and Reconciliation Programme (APRP).
- 70,300 EUR for the pediatric ward of the Helmand central hospital in 2007 in co-operation with the Estonian Red Cross, which was used to purchase portable oxygen generators and warming beds for underweight and premature infants.
- Within the framework of the non-profit organisation Mondo’s project, medical equipment with a value of 185 000 EUR was donated to the central hospital of Helmand Province. The main goal of the project was to procure a medical oxygen delivery system for Bost Hospital and improve the selection of available medical equipment.
|President of the Republic of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves and President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai in Kabul, 2010.||Estonian health care advisor Ms Anu Raisma carrying out a first aid training course in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, spring 2010.|
In 2011 health-related training for adults continued in co-operation with the NPO Mondo. The overall goal of the project was to increase health-related knowledge among adults, particularly women, in Helmand Province. To do so, local training co-ordinators were provided with training, and they in turn provided training in their own local communities. Around 2250 people in Lashkar Gah and the surrounding areas completed the 16-hour training programme and received a first aid kit.
In co-operation with Greece a health care training centre is being established in Lashkar Gah. Greece contributed 300,000 euros to the construction of the building and Estonia is outfitting the training centre with furniture and training equipment.
In 2011 the NPO Mondo started a new project, the goal of which is to work out a support system for the women and children of Afghanistan. The project ties together development co-operation and global education activities, creating an opportunity for Estonians to support the well-being and education of the women and children of Afghanistan through their personal consumer choices and donations.
Close co-operation also continues with the Afghanistan Centre at Kabul University (ACKU), where the compilation of the documents needed in order to undertake the construction of a new building was earlier supported with 32,000 euros, and improving Afghanistan’s national archive and mobile library was supported with 28,000 euros. In 2011 more support was given for the publishing of new books and by offering consultancy on IT infrastructure for the Centre. In 2012 Estonia supported ACKU with video conferencing equipment that allows the university to include more foreign lecturers.
In the education sector close co-operation also continues within the framework of the Afghanistan friendship schools project, which creates bonds between 10 schools in Afghanistan and Estonia and allows for Afghanistan to be seen in Estonia in a different light, not just as a devastated war zone.
Another area that Estonia continues to support is strengthening the administrative capacity of Afghanistan’s civil servant and diplomats. For instance, Estonian School of Diplomacy has organised a short training course for Afghan diplomats already for three years.
Support is allocated from the budget for civil missions to the European Union police mission EUPOL, which acts as an advisor, overseer and training instructor on various levels – in the Afghan Ministry of the Interior, on the regional and provincial level, and on the level of joint projects, such as the establishment of a training centre for Afghan police officers in Helmand Province.
Four Estonian civilian police officers who were sent to Afghanistan in October of 2010 to participate in the police training mission NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A) continue their work in the mission. Their job is to advise and train local police officers in carrying out basic police training, such as forensics, crime scene inspection, routine patrol, self-defence, first aid, and leadership/administrative skills training. That group has now finished its run and a new group of police officers will be sent there at the beginning of 2012.
Estonia’s contribution to strengthening Afghanistan’s central government
At the Kabul Conference held in 2010, Estonia accepted the obligation to direct at least 50% of its development aid through Afghanistan’s central government by the year 2012. In connection with this commitment, in 2011 Estonia allocated 225,000 euros through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) managed by the World Bank. Various different sectors throughout Afghanistan are funded through the ARTF, including areas that are prioritised in Estonia’s development co-operation like health care and education. For example, with the support of the ARTF over 800 new schools have been built and over 45,000 teachers have received training. More than 3,000 km of roads have been repaired in rural areas and great emphasis has been placed on renovating the country’s energy supply system. The ARTF also contributes directly to the development of the health care sector in Helmand Province, which is a priority for Estonia, through the ARTF Strengthening Health Activities for Rural Poor project (SHARP) – more specifically through the Basic Package of Health Services (BPHS) and Essential Package of Hospital Service (EPHS) programmes.
Estonia's special mission and civil officials in Afghanistan
In 2006 Estonia sent its first civil expert and diplomat to Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province, to be a part of the international Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT). The goal of this official was to participate in the PRT’s work as well as fulfil the role of Estonia’s diplomatic representative in Afghanistan. Since the fall of 2008 the Estonian special mission has been located in Kabul. Through the special mission Estonia is able to receive information, analyses and proposals on-site regarding how and through what projects Estonia can continue to contribute to supporting Afghanistan’s development in the best way possible.
Estonia’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan is Väino Reinart.
As of July 2011 the charges d’affaires of the Republic of Estonia in Afghanistan is Vahur Soosaar, who writes about Estonia’s activities regularly in his blog, found at http://blog.vm.ee/.
In addition to a diplomatic representative in Kabul, Estonia has also filled (2008-2012) the position of Health Thematic Head for the British-led Helmand Province Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) located in Lashkar Gah. The role of the Estonian health care expert is to co-ordinate the development co-operation projects of Estonia and other countries and advise the Helmand Province local government on developing its health care system. Argo Parts, Anu Raisma, Priit Paju and Siim Nemvalts have all served as the Health Thematic Head.
In addition to the Foreign Ministry’s special mission, Estonian police officers have also worked in the European Union police mission (EUPOL Afghanistan). From March 2007 until the summer of 2009 the Estonian Ministry of Defence filled a civil advisor position at the US-led Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan (CSTC-A) to help promote relations between the parliament and Ministry of Defence of Afghanistan. 2010-2012 the Estonian Ministry of Defence advised the Afghans in formulating a defence policy through the NATO Training Mission.
Additional information about Estonian development cooperation