Nowadays Afghanistan continues to be an unstable region where the risks of insurgency and terrorist activity are significant due to the underdeveloped economy of this state. Prepare a strategic plan to evaluate and scale-up some of the Task Force`s efforts in Herat, based on the social value investing (SVI), for a country-wide approach. This plan will contribute to the economic development of rural areas of Afghanistan and increase employment, welfare and gender inclusion, thus mitigating the risks of insurgency.
Although military operations against the Taliban bring positive results, they cannot guarantee the longstanding stability and peace in Afghanistan. Such economic issues as poverty and food insecurity lay the groundwork for new insurrections. Therefore, the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO) has incorporated business principles and the SVI approach into its counterinsurgency strategy. The TFBSO has developed a number of efforts aimed at the improvement of the agricultural system in the relatively stable Herat region in order to evaluate whether these efforts will be successful or not. The short-term results were impressive, leading to the assumption that the Task Force`s actions can change the situation for the better not only in Herat, but in other regions of Afghanistan as well. The economic conditions in other regions resemble those in Herat – almost 80 percent of Afghani population live in rural areas, with agriculture being their primary activity. The similar initial prerequisites allow us to believe that the Task Force`s actions taken in Herat will achieve the same result on a national scale. However, some of the elements of Task Force`s strategy require certain amendments in order to correspond with the national scale of economy. Consequently, the strategic plan recommended in this memo will outline general understanding of the policy implementation with necessary modifications. The greatest advantage of this plan is that it will employ the previous experience of the cooperative councils, the food processing centers, the center pivot irrigation systems and the new university programs. Nevertheless, it will require additional financial and human resources, and the biggest threat is that some regions have a greater presence of the Taliban militants.
The report on social value investing in Afghanistan`s agricultural sector states that natural challenges, e.g. a lack of water, are the partial cause of the weak agriculture of this state. Only 12 percent of the country`s lands are arable. Furthermore, the constant armed confrontation has deteriorated the life of simple farmers. Thus, the decline of agriculture that is the key sector of Afghani economy leads to such problems as food insecurity, poverty, unemployment and lack of infrastructure. The four problems listed above force people to join the Taliban. The reinforcement of the radical armed formations makes it impossible to achieve stability in region. That is why these problems caused by the economic underdevelopment are the key barriers on the way of reforming the country.
According to the report, in mid-2009 the Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture determined potential areas for investment, using its own assessments of the agricultural sector in Herat. Three criteria employed by the Institute during the assessment were impact, feasibility and sustainability, and speed. The TFBSO paid respect to the assessment results. It realized that the only way to achieve the support of local population was to bring positive changes as soon as possible. Moreover, long-term projects are less successful under the conditions of possible insurgency that can disrupt them. In addition, the Task Force wanted to create a self-sustained chain of production that would benefit locales. Thus, it developed the integrated commercial produce production model based on the Borlaug Herat assessment.
The Task Force`s efforts include four major aspects, i.e. the cooperative councils, the food processing centers, the center pivot irrigation systems and the new university programs. Their implementation was successful, leading to the creation of the fully integrated production and processing chain. For example, the cooperative councils increased the productivity and efficiency of small farmers. At the same time the food processing centers that employed women added to the gender inclusion and equality, with processing capacities rising as well. The problem of water absence is vital for Afghanistan because the agriculture totally depends on the water supply. The creation of two operational pivot irrigation systems in Herat solved that problem. Furthermore, the new university programs accelerate the transfer of technologies and ideas from the scientific circles to the farmers.
The Task Force employed the social value investing in order to achieve the best results. The SVI approach combines investing in people, place and process. Undoubtedly, the TFBSO put a lot of efforts in order to ensure fruitful and trustful cooperation between local private sector, government authorities and foreign experts. Moreover, the new university programs aim at training of new leaders and specialists. Another aspect is that the Task Force encouraged native citizens of Herat to participate in its programs, thus making them the shareholders of project`s outcomes. What is more, the Task Force`s efforts have resulted in the creation of holistic production and processing chains, introducing even deeper interrelations between the subjects of the economic system.
Increase the US military presence in the Afghani regions with high concentration of the Taliban militants. The Herat region is one of the most stable provinces in Afghanistan. Therefore, the Task Force decided to choose this area for the implementation of its programs. Other regions of the country face the ongoing terrorist acts performed by the Taliban; that is why it would be difficult to create the necessary environment for economic and social development. On the other hand, the increase in the US troops can lead to the worsening relations between the USA and Afghanistan
Create new food processing centers that employ women, making it the first priority. The previous experience in Herat shows that women employment can improve the productivity of work. Moreover, it is necessary to provide respect for and observance of women rights in order to democratize the state in its essence. However, such actions can cause strong opposition from locales because their traditions, culture and religion deny the very existence of women rights.
Tomorrow inform the representatives of the TFBSO and government authorities about the start of the national-scale project. In a week, organize the special committee dealing with preparing draft of the strategic plan. In a month, organize the meeting of the TFBSO representatives, government officials and international experts to evaluate the draft. In three months, adopt the final strategic plan and communicate it to all the parties concerned. In six months, start the implementation of provisions indicated in the strategic plan. In one year, evaluate the interim results of the strategic plan and make necessary amendments.