The International Rescue Committee (IRC) welcomes the latest move by the World Bank to use International Development Association (IDA) funds to scale up support to Afghanistan and expand the scope of its programmes. These funds will support the delivery of services and access to jobs for Afghans who are continuing to endure a major humanitarian crisis as a result of decades of conflict, climate change and economic turmoil. 

The IRC has strongly advocated for the use of IDA funds to support World Bank programmatic efforts in Afghanistan and for the ARTF to expand its partnerships with NGO delivery partners. Over the last two years, the World Bank’s Afghanistan Resilience Trust Fund (ARTF) has been a lifeline for Afghans through expanding access to healthcare, food and essential services, with all funds delivered via the UN, NGOs and private sector partners. Since March 2022, more than 24.3 million Afghans have been reached with ARTF-funded healthcare services across more than 2,000 hospitals, clinics and health facilities. The World Bank has guaranteed the continued role of female staff working in these facilities, with 95-98% of ARTF-supported facilities maintaining minimum quotas on female staff. In June 2023, the ARTF established its first partnership with an NGO as a direct implementer of a new project. To maximise the impact of this newly committed IDA funding, the ARTF should expand on its commitments to implement projects directly through NGOs by bringing forward new projects with NGOs as direct implementers. NGOs are deeply rooted in communities across Afghanistan, and can ensure that even those in the most remote areas of the country can be reached.

The focus of Approach 3.0 includes the delivery of livelihoods support which will support Afghanistan to at least maintain the current trajectory of low-level economic growth. This will be critical to maintaining and stabilising the Afghan economy, while ensuring the survival of businesses and sources of income for millions. However, Afghanistan’s economic crisis remains the primary driver of the high level of humanitarian needs across the country.

Although the announcement of Approach 3.0 represents a new milestone for meeting basic needs in Afghanistan, IRC urges other donors to recognise their role in continuing to contribute to both the delivery of basic services through the ARTF and to the humanitarian response. All contributions are vital to sustaining support for Afghans, and the international community must continue to provide funding to sustain basic services and prevent the humanitarian crisis from worsening.

The IRC in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is one of the International Rescue Committee’s longest-standing programmes, established in 1988. Over the years our support has proven critical to the safety, education and wellbeing of millions of Afghans and we now work with thousands of villages across twelve provinces. With almost 5,000 staff and volunteers, 99% of whom are Afghans and over 30% women, the IRC works with local communities to identify, plan and manage their own development projects, provides safe learning spaces in rural areas, community-based education, cash distribution provides uprooted families with tents, clean water, sanitation and other basic necessities, and helps people find livelihood opportunities as well as extensive resilience programming.