On Wednesday 2 November, The Hague Institute, on behalf of the project consortium and in cooperation with Mercy Corps Afghanistan, hosted a workshop in Kabul on employment and stability. Following a recent project workshop in Monrovia, Liberia, the team designed an expert consultation to present the preliminary findings on Afghanistan, which is one of the four main case studies of the NWO – WOTRO funded project Employment for Stability.
The workshop, led by Dr. David Connolly (Head of Research) and Agnese Macaluso (Researcher) aimed to introduce the project to local stakeholders, present and test the preliminary findings and to receive feedback on how to make the research policy-relevant and tailored to local practices. Next to academics, NGO representatives and relevant agencies such as the Asian Development Bank, representatives from two relevant ministries and four local entrepreneurs attended and actively contributed to the discussion. As stated by Mirwais Momand, CEO of Mido Dairy Production LTD:
“It is crucial to bring together policymakers, experts and business representative to discuss how job creation and training can promote peace. The correlation between stability and employment has been neglected for far too long. This workshop provided a good platform to have a meaningful conversation about the situation in Afghanistan.”
The participants provided valuable feedback on how to adapt existing outcome indicators, and identified additional data sources and economic interventions for the project to include. One of the main messages conveyed was the need to pay particular attention to rural areas and to study how job creation impacts differently in cities. Agriculture accounts for 30% of the national GDP and recent studies carried out by the Asia Development Bank have shown that about 60% of Afghan growth has been led by the agricultural sector. Despite these positive developments, Afghanistan continues to rely on large-scale imports to feed its population and most of the efforts related to vocational training and job creation are focused on urban areas. More interventions, therefore, are needed to strengthen agro-businesses and value chains.
Entrepreneurs, in particular, emphasized that donors should not only consider job creation but also the quality and sustainability of employment over time. Donors have invested significantly in job creation, but relatively few evaluations are available and there is limited data on what happens once programs are completed.
Linked to the latter, the participants recognized vocational and skills training as essential components of employment, especially for women. However, as noted by many participants, if they do not provide access to jobs, these interventions risk raising and failing to meet expectations which can further fuel social grievances.
As next steps, the team will incorporate the feedback and suggestions provided by the local experts into the research findings, which will be presented in a country report in 2017. The visit to Kabul also provided an opportunity for meetings and interviews with relevant actors such as The World Bank and USAID, which further helped in refining the analysis and identifying policy areas which may require further research and discussion.