Under this assignment, Patricia Justino will (i) co-lead, with the World Bank team, research and authorship for a background paper (and related publications) on household risk, behaviour, and policy options in the Afghanistan context of conflict and, (ii) for a social safety net impact evaluation, contribute to instrument design, analysis, and interpretation of results, especially with respect to conflict-related issues.
Given recent changes in country context, the extent of security challenges facing Afghanistan, and constrained resources for security response, it seems likely that Afghanistan will remain subject to some degree of fragility over the medium-term. The challenge is now to develop a growth and development strategy that is robust to the reality of continued fragility, weak state institutions, limitations on the extent and reach of government services and infrastructure, and associated heightened risks and costs for citizens and the private sector.
Building on the “Transition report” and the large body of World Bank analysis in recent years, a series of World Bank analytical activities will contribute to the upcoming 2016 Afghanistan development conferences. Government and international partners plan to renew their commitment towards reforms and aid pledges at two conferences in 2016: Warsaw (NATO Summit, July 2016) and Brussels (Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan, October 2016). The conferences will be underpinned by an intensive in-country dialogue and consultation process on Afghanistan’s priorities for development.
The Bank’s Social Protection & Labor (SPL) Global Practice will contribute to this policy dialogue in the coming months and beyond through two main activities. First is an analytical activity to deepen understanding of the nature of household risk in Afghanistan, implications for household welfare and investments, and policy options that are appropriate for the context. This work will place special emphasis on interactions between conflict risks and other types of household risk, practical policy recommendations for fostering risk mitigation and benign coping strategies, and it will result in a background paper and potentially other publications.
Second is an impact evaluation in three provinces of a pilot social safety net program (unconditional cash transfer) on rural poor households’ food security and other aspects of welfare. The program is implemented by the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled (MoLSAMD) of the Government of Afghanistan with World Bank financing. This would be the only rigorous randomised trial of a social safety net in Afghanistan and one of the few globally testing the effectiveness of a social safety net program in a fragile and active conflict setting.