Ten years after the departure of the Dutch military presence from Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan, The Liaison Office (TLO), an Afghan research and civil society organisation, conducted a rapid assessment at the behest of Cordaid between August and October 2020.
TLO has examined the state of governance, service provision, the economy, development and security in Uruzgan, and the shift that has occurred a decade after the Dutch withdrawal.
On the whole, the security situation in Uruzgan has deteriorated, with the Afghan state ceding control of much of the province to the Taliban. The government is limited to district centres, close to Army bases.
“Right now, everything in Uruzgan is multiplied by zero.”
Tribal elder in Khas Uruzgan district
Taliban rule over the area has limited opportunities for women and girls, and the economy has suffered greatly from Taliban control over roads, the continued fighting in the province and drought.
While Uruzgan faces grave challenges at present, some of which appear more severe than in 2006, there are also bright spots. The report demonstrates that despite the negative trend in security, international actors, including the Dutch, made a lasting impact in the province. Roads, education and health infrastructure, and improvements in the professionalism of the police all resulted from investment by the international community.
While the Taliban have not allowed girls and young women to return to school, they have made concessions to allow schooling for boys, and overall education has improved over the past 10 years. In comparison to 2006 and 2010, the number of health professionals working and services functioning across the province has grown drastically, particularly in antenatal and post-partum care.
While many Afghan and international NGOs have left the province or ceased activities, there are remnants that continue to work on education, health, women’s empowerment and humanitarian response to this day.
The report stresses that the impact of development initiatives in Afghanistan should not be underestimated. Some initiatives left a lasting legacy, which will not be undone despite the Taliban’s hold on the province. However, there is a need for continued engagement and support, and there must be a willingness among donors to be patient to see the seeds of their work come to fruition years down the line. There are opportunities to ensure meaningful change, but they may only lead to results in the future.