This report was produced for review by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and prepared under contract with Checchi and Company Consulting, Inc. and its Subcontractor the Louis Berger Group (LBG) through USAID’s Afghanistan “Services Under Program and Project Offices for Results Tracking” (SUPPORT) Project. The report was prepared by Bradley Austin, Team Leader, Elizabeth Dvorak-Little, and Edward Joseph under contract with Checchi and Company.


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The Local Governance Community Development (LGCD) program, funded by USAID/Afghanistan through the Provincial Reconstruction Team Office, was launched in October 2006 as a three year comprehensive initiative to extend the reach of the Afghan government into underserved, insecure and hard-to-access communities.

The program was designed to build the capacity of local governments, both through direct capacity building and by providing opportunities to engage the community and local government to work together for the implementation of community-development projects. The program’s over-arching aims are to strengthen the legitimacy of the Government of Afghanistan, increase constituent confidence in the Government and promote stability. The LGCD program has four components, identified in the Task Order as: i) strengthening local governance; ii) promoting community development; iii) implementing local stability initiatives; and iv) providing support to the Provincial Reconstruction Teams.

The LGCD program is enormous in scope and coverage, expensive, complicated and diverse. The program requires a great many staff with varied expertise. To properly implement and manage a development program of this nature in a country with as many challenges as Afghanistan requires long-term dedication by both the contracting firms and by the donor, a clear operational strategy, a high degree of shared focus and comprehension of program goals and strategy, a consistent management structure, a mutually-understood program methodology and rigorous accountability mechanisms.

While some individual projects have been successful, these accomplishments are dispersed, inconsistent, and seemingly independent of each other and independent of an overarching blueprint or operational plan. The preponderance of evidence uncovered by the Evaluation Team indicates that the program is not achieving its main goals.

Some of the key factors which have affected program performance include: significant delays by the contracting organizations to decentralize and establish regional offices; lack of a strategy for program operations; management changes within the contracting firms and USAID itself; and delays by the contracting firms to create a plan by which the Task Order objectives could be achieved. This made LGCD vulnerable to the taskings and requests of various USAID program managers, USAID Field Program Officers, US Embassy representatives and military personnel.

In the last year, there have been significant improvements seen in the operational efficiency of the contracting firms, resulting from improved management of the contracting firms, improved coordination between USAID and the firms and from incorporating lessons learned during the programs’ previous two years. Now, programmatic strategies are better formulated and projects are being more effectively introduced. However, because most components of the program took eighteen months to two years to become fully operational, many of the positive impacts have been realized only in last six months. With the program coming to an end in October 2009 (and with the need to close-out projects in advance of program end), LGCD will have achieved far less than its full potential. Given the central role that development at the provincial and local play in Afghanistan’s stability, it is essential that follow-on programming be designed and implemented to deliver results throughout program life cycle, not just in the last one-half or one-third.