Afghanistan is on the road to recovery after decades of war which ruined the economy and raised environmental issues to a crisis level. In order to aid this recovery, UMC/ICMA arranged an experience sharing tour for staff of Afghanistan local urban bodies to Indian cities. Organized in February 2006 under the management of ICMA’s CityLinks program, the municipality experience sharing tour of Best Practices India Hyderabad and Ahmedabad cities was organized for the staff of Kabul Municipality, Kabul Traffic Department and ICMA Engineer Technicians from the City of Kabul Project.
This experience exchange tour was an excellent window of opportunity for the Afghan team to meet and study best practices from their Indian municipal colleagues. They learned the challenges Hyderabad and Ahmedabad overcame to resolve urban issues and improve public services.
Prior to the tour, the Kabul Municipal staff was strongly against involvement of private sectors in improving a city’s infrastructure. The visit to Hyderabad and Ahmedabad changed their minds when they realized that private sector can work in different areas like power plants producing electricity, road construction and rehabilitation, building parks or rehabilitation, solid waste management and much more.
Purpose Of Experience Exchange Tour & Study Tour
The Indian cities of Hyderabad and Ahmedabad are similar to Kabul in many aspects. Both cities have implemented best practices and promoted initiatives, innovations, ideas and actions undertaken by local governments to help residents and city staff understand their work process and service delivery. Best Practices are initiatives undertaken by local governments and private sectors to create a tangible impact on the quality of life and living environment in a city. UMC selected Hyderabad and Ahmedabad for the tour as they are rapidly growing cities with municipalities that are establishing sustainable and institutional strategies for improvement of living conditions and solve urbanization issues. The two cities, like other communities of India, have precious and ancient heritage buildings and infrastructure which are a part of these strategies.
The Kabul delegation comprised 15 participants 6 staff from ICMA Afghanistan, 7 from Kabul Municipality and 2 from Kabul Traffic Department. The team had three objectives to study:
1. Solid Waste Management
2. Roadway Development and Traffic Management
3. Parks and Greenery Management
The trip to Hyderabad municipality laid emphasis on the city’s strategies to improve road infrastructure, tackle greenery issues and solid waste management. The Kabul delegation realized that the challenges were common to Kabul and solutions were not difficult.
Solid Waste Management
Over the past two decades, investments in sanitation services in Kabul have been minimal due to a weak economy and constant conflict in the region. The visiting delegation realized that initiatives taken up in Hyderabad could be applied to Kabul. Hyderabad produces approximately 2,200 tonnes of garbage per day. Earlier there was no system of regular trash collection, solid waste storage was unhygienic and inefficient and municipal solid waste was not treated. To improve the situation, the city passed the Mandatory Solid Waste Management Rules in 2000 which prohibits littering and orders segregation of waste at source among other rules. The municipality worked with citizens and initiated several measures; door-to-door trash collection was introduced while a power plant using solid waste was set up by private sector participants on government donated land. This example highlighted how government and private sector can work together for rehabilitation.
There are nearly 150 parks in Hyderabad today. The Jalagam Vengala Rao Park was once a dumpsite in the heart of the city which was converted into a recreational space by the city government. This was best practice and an accomplishment for Hyderabad. The Yousufguda Park too was used as a dumping site for years which was later transformed into a water body that serves as a recharge center for surrounding bore-wells; the excess water flows into Nala river. The Afghanistan delegation realized that war ravaged Kabul too needs recreational spaces and how small investments can usher in huge changes.
Ahmedabad is going through a technological revolution through which civic services rendered by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation are being thrown open to citizens using information and communications technology. The visiting delegation was shown best practices on roads development, the Sabarmati Riverfront Development site, solving traffic problem, creation of parks and urban green islands and solid waste management.
Parks in Ahmedabad
Ahmedabad has nearly 100 parks for which the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation provides water supply, electricity and security. In some cases, private companies are in charge of administration, management and maintenance.
In contrast to Kabul municipality, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad have control over traffic management and street maintenance. The delegation visited a Street Design Center and other street developments projects as also a roundabout construction. They were also taken to the Children’s Traffic Park which showcases the AMC’s initiative of inculcating traffic sense in children. The visitors were also given an insight into AMC’s plans about the Bus Rapid Transit System BRTS which has helped manage traffic flow
River Front Improvement Project
At the Sabarmati River Front Development Site, a project by AMC with private participation, the Kabul delegation was introduced to the best practice which can generate income for the government and involved private sectors.