US-funded land reform project launched
A contract for the $41.8 million Land Reform in Afghanistan (LARA) project was singed between the USAID chief for Afghanistan, Earl W Gast, and Minister of Finance Omar Zakhilwal in Kabul.
Speaking at the launching ceremony, US Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry said the project would provide services to both private and public sectors.
He called for a formalised and robust Afghan-owned and managed land market in driving economic growth and investment. "This investment and joint project will contribute to strong and sustainable public and private land sectors and provide easy access to investment properties for the private sector."
Zakhilwal underlined the centrality of land to development. "Land reform and development of a land market framework create an environment conducive to economic growth, creation of employment, peace and stability."
Zakhilwal said the distribution of land and other related problems in the past had led to bloody disputes and corruption. The new project would help bring about prosperity and resolve land-related problems, he hoped.
The development of a proper land management system was important for Afghan farmers, agribusinesses and citizens, said Mohammad Asif Rahimi, the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock.
Up to 85 percent of property transactions in Afghanistan are informal and 70 percent of urban real estate is unregistered, impeding long-term investments in residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural real estate.
As part of LARA, USAID will work with Afghan government and private sector institutions to formalise urban planning and land dispute resolution legislation, implement improvements in infrastructure in informal settlements.
The US on Wednesday pledged providing nearly $42 million over next three years to help Afghan entities involved in land reform and management.
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