The Afghan-German Road to Maintaining Sustainable Infrastructure

28.08.2019
Today, the importance of operations and maintenance (O&M) in infrastructure development was emphasised by representatives from the Ministry of Finance (MoF), the Afghan-German Cooperation, the German Embassy, and other Afghan ministerial bodies in Kabul. At the workshop, the key issues of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Afghanistan and the Government of Germany on the O&M of infrastructure measures were discussed, and a roadmap for future O&M related measures laid out. Both sides are committed to progress, provided the conditions are met. In April this year, it was agreed that an envisaged commitment of EUR 40 million for 2019 in the energy sector is tied to improvements in O&M.

In her opening speech, MoF Deputy Minister Naheed Sarabi stated, ‘It is critical that O&M allocations are aligned with the government’s development priorities.’ She added, ‘The O&M is a crucial part of any infrastructure project and must be given special attention.’

Establishing O&M strategies as well as adopting O&M agreements with respective partner institutions will be a mandatory element for ongoing investments and a prerequisite for planned and new investments. At the ceremony, both the Afghan and the German sides stressed the importance of effective O&M measures and underlined their obligation to achieving progress.

The workshop tackled important issues that have so far been holding back effective O&M. Budgeting was a key topic of discussion, as funding infrastructure O&M is an ongoing challenge. When an O&M agreement is made, the budget allocated to these measures is often not sufficient to cover the O&M costs, or is held back due to institutional or political discrepancies.

Another issue discussed was that staff for O&M purposes is often lacking or staff members are not qualified to carry out the required O&M measures. The Afghan-German Cooperation has so far been supporting the improvement of the staff’s operation and maintenance skills, and will continue to do so through institutional capacity building and vocational training courses.

Acting German Ambassador Christoph Peleikis emphasised, ‘The time to tackle challenges in operations and maintenance is now! Future generations depend on a solid infrastructure to ensure sustainable development.’

On the Afghan side, the Operations and Maintenance Policy was approved by the cabinet in 2018. The German side commended the policy, which is a major step and a solid basis to achieve improvements on O&M. It provides a framework for more realistic planning of O&M activities combined with budgetary resources.

Securing investments for O&M and maintaining infrastructure measures, including water, energy, roads, school buildings, irrigation canals, and flood protection, is important for sustainable social and economic development. According to an internal investigation, less than one fifth of active and planned infrastructure measures have an adequate O&M agreement. For this reason, the Afghan-German Cooperation has supported and promoted O&M schemes, and has made the sustainable operation of infrastructure facilities a top priority for the coming years.

The Afghan-German Cooperation aims at improving living conditions and future prospects of Afghan citizens – so they may enjoy lives not overshadowed by poverty, displacement, violence or extremism. The German government will continue to support Afghan infrastructure measures as long as the expected requirements are accomplished.

Germany’s development strategy is entitled: Strengthening Afghan Ownership, Position Paper on Development Cooperation with Afghanistan. The strategy and further project information can be accessed online: www.gc-afg.de/en