Afghanistan Municipal Governance at the Crossroads

-Dr. Vijaya Samaraweera, Deloitte Consulting-

The importance of the provincial municipalities in governance and in the economy of Afghanistan has been noted in a number of official documents and in policy and research studies. Yet, no detailed study of the workings of the provincial municipalities emerged until recently. Equally, while the economic potential of the provincial municipalities has been repeatedly observed, the relationship between their governance and economic growth has been little understood. More recently, the focus on the provincial municipalities both in terms of sub national governance and economic development — and indeed, in the context of security as well given that many of them are highly concentrated population centers — has intensified. The consequence of this close attention is to essentially place the provincial municipalities at the crossroads in terms of governance. Drawing upon his Municipal Governance in Afghanistan: A Manual, Kabul: USAID-ICMA, 2009, 2 volumes, and more recent literature, Dr. Samaraweera will examine the challenges provincial municipalities face and the obstacles they have to overcome if they are to realize their true potential and contribute to good governance in Afghanistan.

Dr. Vijaya Samaraweera received his undergraduate education at the University of Sri Lanka, Peradeniya, majoring in History and Politics, and wrote his doctoral dissertation in modern history at Oxford University for which he was awarded the Doctor of Philosophy degree. Subsequently, he received his Juris Doctor degree from the New England School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts. After a career in the academe both in Sri Lanka and the US and practicing as a lawyer in Boston, Dr. Samaraweera turned to international development work, specializing in human rights, democracy and governance. He has undertaken long-term assignments on behalf of several United Nations agencies, international NGOs, and more recently, for USAID, in Cambodia, East Timor, Timor Leste, Sri Lanka, Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan. Among his recent publications in the development field are Republic of Iraq: District Government Field Manual (editor and lead writer) Baghdad: USAID-RTI, 2007, 2 volumes, and Municipal Governance in Afghanistan: A Manual, Kabul: USAID-ICMA, 2009, 2 volumes.

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