On December 17, the Young Leaders Forum (YLF) 2020-21 met with Mr. Mohammad Naser Sidiqee, Deputy Minister, and Mr. Muhammad Yaseen Zazai, YLF 2020 member, and Senior Aid Coordination Specialist at the Ministry of Finance (MOF). They discussed and exchanged ideas on the Geneva conference 2020, part of a series of international conferences held to reconstruct and rebuild Afghanistan since 2001. In the focus of the discussions were the outcomes and achievements of the conference, the importance of policymaking and policy functions at the MOF, and the perspectives, concerns, and suggestions of youth at the national and provincial level.
FES representative Ms. Omulbanin Paigeer inaugurated the meeting and talked about FES work in Afghanistan since its establishment in 2002. In particular, she highlighted the Young Leaders Forum (YLF) as one of the great successes of FES Afghanistan. Since the inception of YLF in 2004, FES Afghanistan trained more than 300 outstanding Afghan young leaders from across the country, many of them are currently serving the nation in a wide range of capacities.
The Organization for Policy Research and Development Studies (DROPS) representative and YLF-Alumnus, Mr. Bismellah Alizada, briefly talked about the YLF Policy Analysis and Writing training facilitated by DROPs during September and November 2020. He said that DROPs had developed this workshop to build young professionals' policy analysis and policymaking skills. The workshop introduced the fundamentals of policy analysis, implementation, and impact. It also equipped participants with the analytical tools to understand the nature of policymaking, policy communication, and policy research. Since then, YLFees have authored and published numerous policy briefs on current issues that you can find here. To connect theory with practice, the YLFees were interested in meeting officials and understanding government entities' policymaking procedures.
In the second session, Mr. Zazai delivered a comprehensive and insightful presentation on the number of International Conferences held for Afghanistan's development and transformation in the past years, the Geneva Conference's process, and international communities' role in the development and reconstruction of Afghanistan. He also explained the international aid status, the various spending funds' system, and the Afghan government's accountability strategies.
Respectively, Mr. Sidiqee gave a comprehensive introduction on the history of policymaking procedures in the governmental entities, particularly at the MOF in the last ten years. He stated that the international partners welcomed the second version of the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF) at Afghanistan's Geneva 2020 Conference. This Framework includes the Afghan government's vision, strategy, and plan for the next five years. He also briefly pointed to the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) and the National Priority Programs (NPPs) to the participants. He added that the officials had spent many efforts identifying and writing a realistic and comprehensive priority plan.
Mr. Sidiqee pointed that the GCMB, Heads of Agencies, Senior Official Meetings, and 5+3+4 platforms are the fundamental structures that decide, manage, monitor, and prioritize the developing issues and aid effectiveness in Afghanistan. Likewise, he added that decades of war and conflict had destroyed all the country's necessary infrastructures. Building a developed Afghanistan with strong and responsive institutions needs lots of effort and investment. He also emphasized the Afghan government's crucial role in identifying the priorities, spending the funds, and building ownership and trust. Lastly, he said that the international aids support Afghanistan in achieving sustainable peace, strengthening the economy, and creating an accountable government in the next five years.
In an open discussion chaired by Mahdi Surosh, YLFee 2020, the young leaders shared their own views about the importance of continued efforts towards youths' role, institutional reforms, tackling corruption, and increasing transparency, accountability, and equitable provision of public services to improve state legitimacy across the country. Besides, YLFees shared the perspectives, concerns, and suggestions of local youths with the MOF officials. YLFees also expressed their concerns regarding uncertainty and ambiguities surrounding the accountability and reporting procedures of international aid. They stressed that the Afghan people request clarity on how the government is spending international assistance. According to them, inclusive participation of all social groups, including women, youth, and minorities, is essential for a sustainable democracy. Therefore, the government should promote trust between all social groups through trust-building strategies.
In the end, the YLFees celebrated the successful conclusion of their Policy Analysis and Writing Training and received their certificates.
On behalf of the YLF 2020-21 cohort, we would like to thank FES for their continued support to Afghanistan's development and youth empowerment for many years. Also, thanks to the MOF for their hospitality and impressive discussion. We are looking forward to future exchanges and dialogue!