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Winning Hearts and Minds? Examining the Relationship between Aid and Security in Afghanistan’s Faryab Province

Winning Hearts and Minds? Examining the Relationship between Aid and Security in Afghanistan’s Faryab Province

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Afghanistan has been a testing ground for a key aspect of counterinsurgency doctrine, namely that humanitarian and development projects can help to bring or maintain security in strategically important environments, and by “winning hearts and minds” undermine support for radical, insurgent, or terrorist groups. The assumption that aid projects improve security has lead to a sharp increase in overall development funding, an increased percentage of activities programmed based on strategic security considerations, and a shift of development activities to the military. Given what is at stake, it is essential that policy makers understand whether and how aid projects can actually contribute to security.

This second provincial case study examines the drivers of insecurity, characteristics of aid projects and aid implementers, and effects of aid projects on the popularity of aid actors and on security in an area of Afghanistan which has been among the most peaceful, but which has significant pockets of insecurity. Faryab differs from the other provinces in that the Norwegian-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) does not have a civil-military coordination function and does not directly implement development projects, instead channeling its aid through the central government, multi-lateral institutions, and non-governmental organizations.

Respondents in Faryab ascribed insecurity largely to a mix of ethnic and political party factors in part the legacy of factional fighting during the years of conflict, and to unemployment and poverty, poor governance, and competition over scarce resources. Corruption and poor governance was seen as providing insurgents with an opportunity to gain a foothold among disillusioned communities.

The research confirmed the widespread expressed dissatisfaction with post-2001 development activities, including the complaint that more aid was going to the more insecure parts of the country and that substantial economic projects which created employment were lacking. Exceptions were made of the national ring road, the provision of electricity, and the National Solidarity Program.

Despite (or due to) the lack of involvement of the PRT in development projects, respondents expressed a positive view of the PRT relative to other PRTs, although respondents raised concerns about projects funded by the US Commander’s Emergency Response Program, which were not coordinated with the provincial administration or affected communities.

The fieldwork and analysis provided no evidence that aid projects contribute to stabilization in the short term, although there was some evidence that certain aid initiatives had led to positive changes in perceptions towards aid actors and the government. Aid projects were also found to provide a platform or opportunity for interaction between communities and outside actors such as the PRT, UN agencies, and the provincial administration. The provision of aid through the provincial administration did not seem to increase the population’s faith in the government.

The study also found that a voluntary initiative which was independent but informally linked to the government had a significant positive impact on stability in certain areas, and that this could provide some relevant insights into what was effective.

The findings have implications not just for relatively secure areas, but also more generally for the effectiveness of using aid projects as a stabilization tool. This provincial case study is the third of five anticipated case studies, and is part of a larger comparative study in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Horn of Africa of the effectiveness of development assistance in promoting stabilization objectives.

This document can be downloaded at https://wikis.uit.tufts.edu/confluence/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=42009162.
Afghanistan has been a testing ground for a key aspect of counterinsurgency doctrine, namely that humanitarian and development projects can help to bring or maintain security in strategically important environments, and by “winning hearts and minds” undermine support for radical, insurgent, or terrorist groups. The assumption that aid projects improve security has lead to a sharp increase in overall development funding, an increased percentage of activities programmed based on strategic security considerations, and a shift of development activities to the military. Given what is at stake, it is essential that policy makers understand whether and how aid projects can actually contribute to security.

This second provincial case study examines the drivers of insecurity, characteristics of aid projects and aid implementers, and effects of aid projects on the popularity of aid actors and on security in an area of Afghanistan which has been among the most peaceful, but which has significant pockets of insecurity. Faryab differs from the other provinces in that the Norwegian-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) does not have a civil-military coordination function and does not directly implement development projects, instead channeling its aid through the central government, multi-lateral institutions, and non-governmental organizations.

Respondents in Faryab ascribed insecurity largely to a mix of ethnic and political party factors in part the legacy of factional fighting during the years of conflict, and to unemployment and poverty, poor governance, and competition over scarce resources. Corruption and poor governance was seen as providing insurgents with an opportunity to gain a foothold among disillusioned communities.

The research confirmed the widespread expressed dissatisfaction with post-2001 development activities, including the complaint that more aid was going to the more insecure parts of the country and that substantial economic projects which created employment were lacking. Exceptions were made of the national ring road, the provision of electricity, and the National Solidarity Program.

Despite (or due to) the lack of involvement of the PRT in development projects, respondents expressed a positive view of the PRT relative to other PRTs, although respondents raised concerns about projects funded by the US Commander’s Emergency Response Program, which were not coordinated with the provincial administration or affected communities.

The fieldwork and analysis provided no evidence that aid projects contribute to stabilization in the short term, although there was some evidence that certain aid initiatives had led to positive changes in perceptions towards aid actors and the government. Aid projects were also found to provide a platform or opportunity for interaction between communities and outside actors such as the PRT, UN agencies, and the provincial administration. The provision of aid through the provincial administration did not seem to increase the population’s faith in the government.

The study also found that a voluntary initiative which was independent but informally linked to the government had a significant positive impact on stability in certain areas, and that this could provide some relevant insights into what was effective.

The findings have implications not just for relatively secure areas, but also more generally for the effectiveness of using aid projects as a stabilization tool. This provincial case study is the third of five anticipated case studies, and is part of a larger comparative study in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Horn of Africa of the effectiveness of development assistance in promoting stabilization objectives.

This document can be downloaded at https://wikis.uit.tufts.edu/confluence/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=42009162.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Feinstein International Center on Feb 14, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/12/2014

 
Strengthening the humanity and dignity of people in crisis through knowledge and practice
Winning Hearts and Minds? Examining the Relationship between Aid andSecurity in Aghanistan’s Faryab Province
january 2011
Geert Gompelman
 
©2010 Feinstein International Center. All Rights Reserved.Fair use o this copyrighted material includes its use or non-commercial educationalpurposes, such as teaching, scholarship, research, criticism, commentary, and newsreporting. Unless otherwise noted, those who wish to reproduce text and image flesrom this publication or such uses may do so without the Feinstein InternationalCenter’s express permission. However, all commercial use o this material and/orreproduction that alters its meaning or intent, without the express permission o theFeinstein International Center, is prohibited.Feinstein International CenterTuts University200 Boston Ave., Suite 4800Medord, MA 02155USAtel: +1 617.627.3423ax: +1 617.627.3428fc.tuts.edu
 
Author
Geert Gompelman (MSc.) is a graduate in Development Studies romthe Centre or International Development Issues Nijmegen (CIDIN)at Radboud University Nijmegen (Netherlands). He has worked as adevelopment practitioner and research consultant in Aghanistan since2007.
Acknowledgements
The author wishes to thank his research colleagues Ahmad Hakeem(“Shajay”) and Kanishka Haya or their assistance and insights as well ascompanionship in the eld. Gratitude is also due to Antonio Giustozzi,Arne Strand, Petter Bauck, and Hans Dieset or their substantivecomments and suggestions on a drat version.The author is indebted to Mervyn Patterson or his signicantcontribution to the historical and background sections. Thanks go to Joyce Maxwell or her editorial guidance and or helping to clariyunclear passages and to Bridget Snow or her ecient and patient workon the production o the nal document. Finally, the author wishes toacknowledge Andrew Wilder or his overall leadership o the study andboth Andrew Wilder and Paul Fishstein or their specic guidance andvaluable insights on the provincial case study.
Thank you
Funding or the research was provided by the Swedish InternationalDevelopment Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the Royal NorwegianMinistry o Foreign Aairs, AusAID, and Aghanistan Research andEvaluation Unit (AREU).
Cover photo
Children in Sar-i Howz, Pashtun Kot District. Photo: Author 

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