Decades of terrorism and war have destroyed Afghanistan and turned the country into a dangerous battlefield. The constant state of combat has created large number of refugees and increased migration of poor to urban areas. International organizations are attempting to redevelop the nation but continuous battles have destroyed the existing infrastructure, there is lack of finance for redevelopment which is slow paced and unable to match the increasing population and urbanization. UMC organized and coordinated study tours for the municipality staff and mayors from cities in Afghanistan. The tailor-made study tours laid emphasis on good governance, solid waste management, urban green areas and water supply systems. The study tours provided a chance to the visiting mayors and municipality staff to interact with Indian city government officials to learn as well as share the best practices that could be replicated in Afghanistan cities. UMC also collaborated to create a Municipal Management Manual for the cities of Afghanistan and created a city profile and Strategic Municipal Action Plan SMAP for Bazarak, the provincial capital of Panjshir province.

Projects :

UMC provided technical assistance to ICMA’s Afghan Municipal Strengthening Program AMSP. This program was financially supported by the United States Agency for International Development USAID with the objective of strengthening capacity of municipal level governments in selected provincial capital cities located primarily in southeastern Afghanistan. The goal of this program was to improve citizen satisfaction with municipal level governments in the cities of Khost, Tirin Kot, Bazarak, Charikar, Jalalabad, Sharana, Kandahar, Gardez, Ghazni and Asadabad by demonstrably enhancing the delivery of public services and improving the quality of life in each community.

Afghanistan is recovering from decades of conflict and has to face many issues in Urban and Human Development. While the country’s economy has improved significantly since the fall of the Taliban regime largely due to international assistance, recovery of agriculture sector and service sector, Afghanistan faces extreme poverty and dependence on foreign aid. A large part of the urban population suffers due to shortage in housing, water, sanitation, electricity and medical care. Urban investments in various infrastructures are important to address these issues and city profiles and SMAP help create strategies to achieve vision and time-bound action plans.  

The Strategic Municipal Action Planning SMAP process is primarily the vision for development of a city. The SMAP helps identify city-specific economic development strategies, infrastructure investment requirements and fiscal gaps, policy reforms, capacity-building measures, and a range of institutional reforms to enable enhanced service delivery and more effective urban governance to foster greater urban efficiency and productivity. The process represents the strategy for governance of each provincial capital city with an objective of fostering economic development and improving the quality of life; presents a development vision of a city; includes mechanisms of the functionality of a municipality along with other stakeholders to achieve a short-term or long-term goal; includes details of action steps to be undertaken by a municipality and expected results and also consultative process for stakeholders.

The scope of SMAP is to
  • Assess the current situation in respect of demographic and economic growth, infrastructure services, municipal finances, etc
  • Identify the gaps in service delivery
  • Outline the issues faced by the city‘s poor
  • Prepare a vision and sectoral strategic framework outlining the goals, strategies, interventions and projects to achieve the vision
  • Formulate a city investment plan with appropriate financing strategies and an implementation action plan
  • Focus on the reforms to be carried out at the state and local levels in consonance with the vision and strategic plan outlined to sustain the planned interventions *

UMC conducted several training programs for staff from Afghanistan’s local urban bodies on ground truthing surveys for base map preparation process and conducting consultative discussions for the SMAP process.

UMC and ICMA also put together a Municipal Management Manual for the city of Afghanistan under the Cooperative Agreement between USAID and ICMA for implementation of USAID's AMSP. The manual was built on the Municipal Governance Best Management Practices Manual prepared by a team of contributors in 2009. The manual provides case studies and leading practices from experienced local bodies to help developing nations learn from them. The manual covered various aspects of urban management to present tools and techniques for professionalizing urban management. The manual also intended to clarify internationally well-known concepts in connection with relevant topics and provide case studies for best management from other countries. The manual was prepared with contributions by multiple authors and published in English, Dari and Pashtu languages.

Related Content

Note on Municipal Strengthening in Afghanistan

UMC prepared a city profile and Strategic Municipal Action Plan SMAP for Bazarak, the provincial capital of Panjshir province. One of the most important cities of Afghanistan due to its historic significance, Bazarak was declared a province in 2004. Bazarak is especially important to Afghanistan as the birth place of Lt. Ahmed Shah Massoud, a national hero. Ahmad Shah Massoud played a leading role during the Soviet war in Afghanistan and was nicknamed 'Lion of Panjshir'. Massoud was declared a 'National Hero' after his assassination in 2001. The city of Bazarak has been an important centre for trade and commerce in Afghanistan and has transportation links to major areas of the nation. Bazarak also has the major number of government offices and departments which increases the chances of the city developing rapidly. With a rich agriculture sector and variety of minerals available, the city has scope for a flourishing agriculture and gems industry.

UMC's manual submitted to ICMA has a city profile of Bazarak which highlights the demographics, population growth, spatial patterns of growth and urban economy of the city. The manual highlights the process of preparation of the base map for the city of Bazarak highlighting the existing land use for the municipal area of Bazarak, issues of increased municipal limits and population and focuses on sector wise analysis of Bazarak. Experts involved in preparing this manual conducted detailed discussions with Mayor and Governors' office to delinaite the boundary and growth capacity of the city and conducted training programs for provincial teams before finalizing a timeline and preparing the base map for the city.

The manual also reviews the level of basic services in the city. These include services provided by various agencies and line Ministries. The manual has a chapter devoted to the current social amenities in the city and focuses on education, health and recreation. The manual describes the situation of Urban Environment in the context of the Environment Act and need to mainstream initiatives into municipal functioning, an assessment of municipal finances and the governance system. The manual also provides the formulation of a vision for the City of Bazarak and identification of various project priorities and action plans for the same along with an analysis of investment sustainability through a Finance and Operating Plan. from Bazarak City Urban Sector Profile & Strategic Municipal Action Plan

Afghanistan is on the road to recovery after decades of war which ruined the economy and raised environmental issues to a crisis level. In order to aid this recovery, UMC/ICMA arranged an experience sharing tour for staff of Afghanistan local urban bodies to Indian cities. Organized in February 2006 under the management of ICMA’s CityLinks program, the municipality experience sharing tour of Best Practices India Hyderabad and Ahmedabad cities was organized for the staff of Kabul Municipality, Kabul Traffic Department and ICMA Engineer Technicians from the City of Kabul Project.

This experience exchange tour was an excellent window of opportunity for the Afghan team to meet and study best practices from their Indian municipal colleagues. They learned the challenges Hyderabad and Ahmedabad overcame to resolve urban issues and improve public services.

Prior to the tour, the Kabul Municipal staff was strongly against involvement of private sectors in improving a city’s infrastructure. The visit to Hyderabad and Ahmedabad changed their minds when they realized that private sector can work in different areas like power plants producing electricity, road construction and rehabilitation, building parks or rehabilitation, solid waste management and much more.

Purpose Of Experience Exchange Tour & Study Tour

The Indian cities of Hyderabad and Ahmedabad are similar to Kabul in many aspects. Both cities have implemented best practices and promoted initiatives, innovations, ideas and actions undertaken by local governments to help residents and city staff understand their work process and service delivery. Best Practices are initiatives undertaken by local governments and private sectors to create a tangible impact on the quality of life and living environment in a city. UMC selected Hyderabad and Ahmedabad for the tour as they are rapidly growing cities with municipalities that are establishing sustainable and institutional strategies for improvement of living conditions and solve urbanization issues. The two cities, like other communities of India, have precious and ancient heritage buildings and infrastructure which are a part of these strategies.

The Kabul delegation comprised 15 participants 6 staff from ICMA Afghanistan, 7 from Kabul Municipality and 2 from Kabul Traffic Department. The team had three objectives to study:

1. Solid Waste Management
2. Roadway Development and Traffic Management
3. Parks and Greenery Management


The trip to Hyderabad municipality laid emphasis on the city’s strategies to improve road infrastructure, tackle greenery issues and solid waste management. The Kabul delegation realized that the challenges were common to Kabul and solutions were not difficult.

Solid Waste Management

Over the past two decades, investments in sanitation services in Kabul have been minimal due to a weak economy and constant conflict in the region. The visiting delegation realized that initiatives taken up in Hyderabad could be applied to Kabul. Hyderabad produces approximately 2,200 tonnes of garbage per day. Earlier there was no system of regular trash collection, solid waste storage was unhygienic and inefficient and municipal solid waste was not treated. To improve the situation, the city passed the Mandatory Solid Waste Management Rules in 2000 which prohibits littering and orders segregation of waste at source among other rules. The municipality worked with citizens and initiated several measures; door-to-door trash collection was introduced while a power plant using solid waste was set up by private sector participants on government donated land. This example highlighted how government and private sector can work together for rehabilitation.


There are nearly 150 parks in Hyderabad today. The Jalagam Vengala Rao Park was once a dumpsite in the heart of the city which was converted into a recreational space by the city government. This was best practice and an accomplishment for Hyderabad. The Yousufguda Park too was used as a dumping site for years which was later transformed into a water body that serves as a recharge center for surrounding bore-wells; the excess water flows into Nala river. The Afghanistan delegation realized that war ravaged Kabul too needs recreational spaces and how small investments can usher in huge changes.


Ahmedabad is going through a technological revolution through which civic services rendered by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation are being thrown open to citizens using information and communications technology. The visiting delegation was shown best practices on roads development, the Sabarmati Riverfront Development site, solving traffic problem, creation of parks and urban green islands and solid waste management.

Parks in Ahmedabad

Ahmedabad has nearly 100 parks for which the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation provides water supply, electricity and security. In some cases, private companies are in charge of administration, management and maintenance.

Traffic Management

In contrast to Kabul municipality, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad have control over traffic management and street maintenance. The delegation visited a Street Design Center and other street developments projects as also a roundabout construction. They were also taken to the Children’s Traffic Park which showcases the AMC’s initiative of inculcating traffic sense in children. The visitors were also given an insight into AMC’s plans about the Bus Rapid Transit System BRTS which has helped manage traffic flow

River Front Improvement Project

At the Sabarmati River Front Development Site, a project by AMC with private participation, the Kabul delegation was introduced to the best practice which can generate income for the government and involved private sectors.

UMC organized and coordinated a study tour for mayors of five provincial governments in Afghanistan to the cities of Hyderabad, Suryapet, Ramagundam and Delhi with the objective of studying good governance, solid waste management, urban green areas and water supply systems. The purpose of the visit to India was to attend the regional conference of good governance in South Asia held in Hyderabad. The tour was supported by the International City/County Management Association ICMA which is working in Afghanistan to strengthen five provincial capitals — name of five provinces — in and on providing infrastructure facilities and good governance systems within local governments.

The study tour gave the visiting mayors a chance to interact with Indian city government officials and observe and share best practices in good urban governance, urban green areas, solid waste management, and water supply within the region and replicate them in their cities. Suryapet and Ramagundam have undertaken several innovative measures to improve urban governance and offer a wide range of subjects for study to cities facing problems of urban management. These two cities are similar culturally and population-wise.

UMC equipped the Afghani delegation with a kit which included a compilation of best practices by UMC on urban greenery, solid waste management, water supply and good governance. They were also given material for future reference. The regional conference at Administrative Staff College of India [ASCI] had deliberations on good governance, decentralization and participation, environmental service delivery, inclusive cities, creating creditworthy cities and capacity building for the local governments. The visit to the historic Golconda Fort near Hyderabad highlighted how a heritage site could be preserved and maintained. An interpreter facilitated translations from English and Hindi into Dari for the delegation.

A workshop on disaster mitigation and risk identification for cities was also organized to assist the delegation develop skills to build resilient cities, with focus on the vulnerability of South Asian cities to natural disasters. Case studies from Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and India were presented to apprise the delegation on disaster mitigation techniques.


Hyderabad has taken several measures towards improving governance, increasing urban greening, water supply and solid waste. The delegates acquired an insight into how the city, which has increased three-fold, provided basic amenities to the growing population.

Suryapet The Afghan delegation learnt lessons on solid waste management from Suryapet, which has secured the ISO 14001-2004 certificate for establishing and maintaining an environment-friendly system for solid waste disposal. Suryapet is the first municipality in India to receive such a certificate. The municipality has also bagged the Greentech Foundation's Excellence Award and won the Supreme Court's appreciation for proper solid waste management. The delegation learnt how garbage was segregated into wet and dry waste at source and recycled into vermi-compost to produce fine manure which was later sold in the open market for Rs 2 a kg.


A visit to this city helped the delegates learn about Ramagundam’s 24x7 water supply system. It showcased how turbines pumped water from Godavari river to the treatment plant before being distributed. The delegates were shown the treatment plant and chlorination process.


In Delhi, the delegation was shown a film to help them learn more about environmental issues and how they could replicate ideas in their cities. They learnt first-hand how a residential colony has formed an association to convert waste into compost which is sold as manure. They also saw how a public garden was able to sustain and maintain itself without charging entry fee. The Afghani delegation was also briefed about the Bhagidari Scheme which involves people’s participation in governance.

UMC facilitated a ten-day study tour for a 14-member delegation including three high profile lady-Members of Parliaments and Mayors, Ministry of Urban Development officials and United States Agency for International Development USAID representatives in May 2009. The objective was to learn about up-gradation policies and programs for informal settlements in India. The delegation visited Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Delhi for various presentations under the LTERA Project and USAID/Afghanistan.

At Ahmedabad

High ranking officials of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation AMC introduced the delegation to institutional mechanisms at city level as well as linkages with State and Central governments in terms of both policy and financial levels. Revenue sources and budgets were explained. The Slum Networking Programme SNP of the AMC was the focus of delegates as it had the participatory approach in providing basic services to the poor, as also socio-economic inputs – all in order to give the slum inhabitants a security of tenure and improved quality of life. A site visit confirmed the outcome of SNP even as the delegates interacted with a local woman-President of a community-based organisation to understand institutional processes leading to empowerment.

Some other highlights of Ahmedabad leg was learning about a successful pilot project of slum electrification by the Mahila Housing Trust and AMC, and site visit to a PPP for a 90-day training program to improve the employability of the poor youth. The delegates interacted with trainees on various subjects – DTP, language skills, beauty parlour etc. An indoor session on provision of housing by Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority AUDA for economically weaker sections of the society, followed by on-site understanding of the processes was another highlight.

At Hyderabad

The sessions at Centre for Good Governance gave an insight into the ongoing Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission JnNRUM of the central government and the issues of land titling; the use of technology by Andhra Pradesh government to update land records was appreciated by the delegates. A visit to one of the computerised Civic Centres was arranged to see the pro-active and citizen-oriented role of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation GHMC. At Kapra circle of GHMC, the delegates interacted with ladies of self-help groups and understood the processes towards economic freedom.

At Delhi

At the National Institute of Urban Affairs, the delegates were appraised of the experiences of an NGO in sanitation at Pune in Maharashtra and the perennial issues of government-NGO combine working for the upliftment of poor, and to overcome those challenges; the presentation on linking development with Moghul heritage and the resultant involvement of the local poor towards quality of their own lives was most impressive. The session on the initiative of Chennai Municipal Corporation in introducing activity-based learning for the poor children was another highlight, particularly the success achieved and the up-scaling of the educational model throughout the Tamil Nadu state. A visit to Sulabh International brought the delegates face-to-face with low-cost toilet technology and the energy conservation aspects such as methane production and electricity generation from human excreta.