President Ashraf Ghani held a virtual meeting with the donor community including EU and resident ambassadors to Kabul and representatives of the international organizations yesterday evening and explained the government’s response plan on fighting Covid-19.
Having extended gratitude to the donor community and countries for helping with Afghanistan to combat Corona, the president articulated the fundamental objectives of the plan mainly dealing with consequences of the pandemic spread, ensuring food security, preventing negative impacts on the economy, maintaining regional cooperation particularly cooperation by Pakistan, India and Central Asian Countries through keeping their borders open to allow the flow of essential commodities and foodstuff to Afghanistan.
The president also elucidated five main societal expectations namely investing in a functioning healthcare system; human security; social protection for those at situational risk during the lockdown; public work programs that enhance assets of the poor or empower them to create new assets; and access to better, cheaper and more efficient infrastructure.
Terming education a fundamental priority at the current circumstances, the president said demand for reliable electric power and affordable internet are priorities for urban citizens while rural communities primarily demand land, electric power, water and sanitation.
He stressed that people expect the government to address their urgent requirements and be able to properly manage the relief stage of the pandemic spread to lead to recovery.
The president said, as articulated in the plan, the government proposes to its development partners to reprogram their existing commitments into relief, recovery and stimulus programs and to engage Afghanistan’s regional partners to shape regional response strategies for dealing with the effect of the corona virus.
President Ghani said, “We are working with a sense of urgency focusing on the changing context, restructuring decision-rights and redistributing resources, re-examining priorities and programs, and seeking to co-shape game-changing strategies and approaches with our development partners.”
President Ghani termed the presence of the donor community signifies their solidarity with the government and the people of Afghanistan, appreciating the financial assistances provided by the countries and organizations including the World Bank, ADB, WHO, WFP, EU, IMF, NATO as well as India, Asian countries for putting special measures in place to ensure flow of food materials to Afghanistan within the constraints required by corona virus spread.
First Vice President Amrullah Saleh presented the Covid-19 Response Plan which is grounded on a five-stage strategy to mitigate and minimize the risk and economic effects; adopt measures to contain and prevent the spread of the disease, expedite certain procurement processes, ensure better coordination of foreign aids, facilitate public awareness across the country and reach the stage of recovery and return to the normal status.
The first vice president also talked over the government’s consultative meetings with 34 provincial governors, 300 district chiefs, neighbourhood/guzar representatives, private sector, various segments of society including government officials in the capital and provinces and receiving their comments on the efforts to tackle with corona.
He said the purpose of the consultations were to receive comments of the multiple segments of society to enable us to identify the vulnerable group and the poor and address their needs.
The ambassadors announced support for the government of Afghanistan’s plans on fighting the corona pandemic and briefed their various plans mostly in terms of financial and technical assistance.
The president expressed hope that the Taliban agree to the government’s call for cease-fire, underlining if the Taliban underestimate the threat of corona, the consequence will be nothing, but a human tragedy.
The president said that the prisoner release process has been a step to reinforce the peace process and to serve as a measure for beginning direct talks between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban. He added the government feels responsibility before the citizens living in the areas under the Taliban control and want to help them in this critical juncture.
He underscored that the cabinet delegated special authority to the Ministry of Public Health to make sure procurement processes are not delayed while ensuring the principles of accountability and transparency.
President Ashraf Ghani called for transparency and accountability in the performance of non-governmental organizations operating in Afghanistan and said the Afghan government of Afghanistan is committed to closely work with the international community and the World Bank to enhance coordination and share its activities with the international partners in a transparent fashion.