The Afghan mine and hydrocarbon sector could contribute a high percentage of national revenues and provide the state with resources to implement developmental projects. According to the British Geological Survey, Afghanistan has over 1400 mines across the country, which includes some of the largest copper, iron and lithium deposits. It also has a huge presence of hydrocarbon and gem stones which can help to elevate Afghanistan’s status amongst the mineral rich countries in the world.
There are however numerous challenges in exploiting the resources in a sustainable and responsible manner. The security situation around some of the mine sites is hostile for investment and the state finds it increasingly difficult to extend and maintain its sovereignty over them. In order to avoid “resource curse”, it is critical to promote and ensure that the extraction and management of the resources are carried out responsibly and with integrity.
The Community Based Monitoring of Extractives program (CBM-E)
The Community Based Monitoring of Extractives program promotes good governance of the mine and hydrocarbon sector in Afghanistan. In order to avoid “resource curse” and further derailment of the security situation, the program advocates for integrity, transparency, and accountability in the governance of the mine and hydrocarbon resources. The program aims to mobilize communities to monitor extraction processes to avoid negative social and environmental impacts and to ensure socio-economic development of local communities around extraction areas.
The Community Based Monitoring of Extractives program started in 2007 with a research focus and has since expanded to include monitoring resource governance including development and the implementation of laws and policies. In 2011, the program started with mobilization of communities around Aynak and Chromite -Logar, Ajigak Bamyan and Maydan Qardak, Qarazaghan- Baghlan and Emeralds in Panjshir . Besides monitoring, the program has screened and continues to follow up on revenue transparency from the extractive sector through active participation in the Afghanistan Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (AEITI).
In its research component, the Community Based Monitoring of Extractives program conducts primary and secondary, qualitative and quantitative research, baselines studies, political economy studies, comparative studies of Mining governance, conflict analysis, case studies and policy briefs. It particularly looks at the capacity of state institutions, the role of the private sector, the international community and the space for civil society engagement.
The monitoring of extractive industries through communities assesses whether companies comply with international best practices for the extraction and commercial production of minerals. It aims to limit the adverse impact of mining on the environment and all affected communities. Based on the research conducted, communities around Aynak , Ajigak, Qarazaghan and chromite have been mobilized to assure company compliance to international best practices of the mining industry.
Integrity Watch has a history of working with communities around the targeted sites and has trained locally elected members of integrity to flag irregularities that can severely impact the quality of life of the communities. A forum of Aynak , Ajigak, Qarazaghan and Chromite communities has been formed. This forum will further collaborate with local authorities, the central government and the private mining companies to flag and address concerns.
Integrity Watch also organizes civil society coalition/Network to improve the awareness of the extractive industries and encourage civil action that will promote better management of natural resources.
The program also works to ensure responsible extraction and adherence to contracts and international best practices in order to bridge the gap between the state and citizens’ perceptions and expectations, particularly regarding social issues and land compensation. Integrity Watch organizes different discussion forums with the government of Afghanistan, companies and civil society organizations in order to generate more interest in the sector and take an early and active start in checking deviational steps. It also seeks timely intervention through deliberative process. This process is believed to strengthen natural resource management and avoid conflict over resources.
Throughout its process, Integrity Watch works closely with Ministry of Mines, Ministry of Finance, World Bank and other relevant actors such as Revenue Watch Institute / Natural Resources Governance Index , Witness, and United Nations Environment Prograrmme to foster integrity, transparency, and accountability in the sector.