Afghan Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development visits Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. (April 20, 2012) - Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak, Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, visited Washington D.C. from April 16-21 to discuss future development investment in Afghanistan particularly in the area of rural development. Also high on his agenda were the role of development in the peace process, the prospects for the forthcoming Chicago and Tokyo conferences on the international community support for security and development, and the ‘Decade of Transformation’, the period from 2015-2025 during which the Afghan Government aims to grow its economy towards financial self-sufficiency.
Minister Barmak’s US visit, timed to coincide with the International Ministerial Conference on Water and Sanitation for All, was his first overseas journey since being confirmed as Minister by the Afghan Parliament in March. During his visit, Minister Barmak met with Ambassador Marc Grossman, the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Congresswoman Nita Lowey and officials from Department of Defense, USAID and the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations.
Minister Barmak gave a well-received talk on achievements and challenges in Afghanistan’s rural development sector to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and a wide-ranging presentation on the National Solidarity Program, one of five major development programs managed by his Ministry, to the World Bank.
The Embassy of Afghanistan hosted a media breakfast where the Minister briefed Washington-based journalists on the achievements of ministry-run programs in helping more than 29,000 communities throughout Afghanistan, identify and address their own development needs, as well as building rural roads, providing clean water to villages, and supporting the reintegration into communities of former insurgents.
He also described the potential challenges to achieving sustained improvements in the lives of the 75% of Afghans based in rural areas, should future international funding for development be substantially reduced.
Prior to arriving in Washington D.C., the Minister met officials from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in New York, held a meeting with Mr Ajay Chhibber, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of UNDP's Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, and gave a presentation to UNDP staffers.