Afghan government pledges to engage public in the mining sector

Following the launch of a feasibility study that provides a roadmap to community monitoring of extractive sites in the country, Integrity Watch held a webinar in which government, civil society and researchers discussed the opportunities and challenges of public engagement in the sector on July 27, 2020. During the webinar, the researchers and civil society representatives highlighted the fact that the Afghan government has not systematically engaged people while a deputy minister from the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum pledged to increase public participation using the research findings.
Sayed Ikram Afzali, Executive Director of Integrity Watch, who hosted the event stated that building trust and enhancing the legitimacy of the Afghanistan state depends on how deeply and systematically the government engages citizens in governance affairs. He welcomed the fact that the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework II includes a section on development of the sector but he also emphasized that civil society and the people were not involved in the preparation of the strategy.
Mr Wali Zadran, Deputy Minister-Policy and Programs, Ministry of Mines and Petroleum welcomed the research findings and stated that the MOMP is revising its legal framework to improve transparency and to involve people including making use of the citizens charter as a vehicle for community benefits from the extractive industry and the establishment of a mining ombudsperson to handle public complaints. However, civil society organizations criticized the government for not taking adequate measures to ensure the independence of the mining ombudsperson.
Private sector representatives from the Afghanistan Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the International Chamber of Commerce in Afghanistan also supported efforts to engage the public in the extractive sector. Mr. Ibrahim Jaffari, Vice Chairperson at the Chamber of International Commerce in Afghanistan stated that meaningful public participation increases the cooperation of local people in the extraction process and also provides a platform to implement social projects.
The panel concluded that all stakeholders should work on public awareness raising, provision of the necessary support for monitoring by the government, and a long-term commitment by civil society organizations to mobilize the people in the sector.