The Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) is a multi-donor trust fund that coordinates international aid to improve the lives of millions of Afghans. The World Bank administers the ARTF on behalf of donor partners. To date, 34 donors have contributed to the fund.
ARTF is the largest single source of funding for Afghanistan's development, financing up to 30 percent of Afghanistan's civilian budget, and supporting core functions of the government.
Since 2002, ARTF has delivered support through national priority programs and driven some of the fastest progress in the world in reducing infant mortality and increasing children's enrollment in school.
ARTF allocations are made from the ARTF Trustee Account through four windows:
- Recurrent Cost Window (RCW) has been in place since the ARTF was established in 2002. The RCW is recipient-executed, which means that the government leads and executes RCW programming. The RCW provides "on-budget" financing to reimburse the government for a portion of eligible and non-security related operating expenditures every year. RCW operations have evolved: Since 2018 100 percent of RCW financing is incentivized, meaning that reimbursement is based on the government's achievement of policy benchmarks discussed and agreed in the Incentive Program Working Group. From 2002-2017, the RCW financed a mix of baseline (non-conditioned) budget expenses and joint and bilateral incentivized policy priorities.
- Investment Window (IW) has been in place since the ARTF was established in 2002. It provides "on-budget" grant financing for national development programs in the development budget. The IW is recipient-executed. Please see the "What We Do" page of this this website for links to all currently active and closed projects, a "footprint" map showing project presence, and links to individual project reports.
- Advisory Services, Implementation Support, and Technical Assistance (ASIST) was established in 2018 to respond to the government's request for hands-on advisory services, implementation support, and technical assistance, especially in priority sectors of the national development strategy. ASIST replaces the now-inactive Research and Analysis Program (RAP) window. The ASIST window is Bank-executed, which means that World Bank personnel lead and execute ASIST-funded initiatives.
- Anti-Corruption and Results Monitoring Action Program (ACReMAP) finances initiatives to enhance anti-corruption, safeguards and results monitoring efforts in the ARTF portfolio. Like ASIST, the ACReMAP window was established in 2018. ACReMAP supports the World Bank's commitment, as ARTF administrator, to respond to elevated fiduciary and safeguards risks in the Afghanistan portfolio and maximize the fund's development impact. The ACReMAP window is Bank-executed.
Governance and Working Groups
The ARTF has a three-tier governance framework and three working groups that play critical roles in monitoring ARTF programs and providing strategic and technical advice to the ARTF governance bodies.
Governance entities set policy and strategy, oversee finances and allocations, and manage contributions and administrative functions of the ARTF.
- Steering Committee (SC) sets policy and the strategy for the ARTF. The SC consists of the World Bank and the Afghan Ministry of Finance as co-chairs and ARTF donor countries as members. The SC makes decisions on a consensus basis informed by recommendations of the ARTF working groups. SC participation is generally at the Minister, Country Director, or Ambassador level. Management Committee members serve as observers to the SC.
- Management Committee (MC) oversees ARTF finances and reviews proposals to commit ARTF funds considering both technical quality and alignment with the current financing strategy. The MC consists of the World Bank as the Chair and the Ministry of Finance, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) as members. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) serves as an official observer to the MC. ARTF donors are also invited to observe MC meetings. The MC makes decisions on a consensus basis informed by recommendations of the ARTF working groups. MC participation is generally at the Country Director or Deputy Minister level.
- The World Bank serves as ARTF Administrator. In this capacity, the World Bank is responsible for ARTF finances. The World Bank also manages secretariat functions to monitor and report on ARTF program performance. It also reports the Management Committee's funding decisions to the Steering Committee.
Working groups play critical roles in ARTF governance by advising the Steering Committee, monitoring the implementation of ARTF strategies and programs, and providing strategic and technical advice.
- Strategy Group (SG) contributes to the development of the multi-year ARTF strategy known as the Partnership Framework and Financing Program (PFFP) (formerly the Financing Strategy), implementation of the strategy and individual ARTF programs and advises the Steering Committee on recommended updates to the PFFP. The SG is co-chaired by the World Bank and Ministry of Finance. SG participation is generally at the Country Director, Deputy Minister, or Head of Cooperation level.
- Incentive Program Working Group (IPWG) is an advisory, coordination, and information-sharing body established to support the Incentive Program process. It provides a central forum for policy dialogue on key revenue, public financial management, and structural reforms, between the government, the World Bank, and ARTF donors. The IPWG discusses policy reforms with the government and reports on reform progress to the SC and SG. The World Bank chairs the IPWG; and members are technical specialists.
- Gender Working Group (GWG) supports gender mainstreaming in ARTF strategies, pipeline development and portfolio management. The GWG reviews gender aspects of ARTF-financed activities and shares knowledge and expertise on innovations in gender as they relate to the ARTF. The GWG is co-chaired by the World Bank and a rotating donor co-chair; and reports its findings and recommendations to the SG. Members are technical specialists.
ARTF External Evaluations
Four independent evaluations of the ARTF have been carried out since the inception of the ARTF with the latest evaluation conducted in 2017.
Given the importance of the ARTF as a source of funding for the Government’s Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF) and National Priority Programs (NPPs), the review conducted in 2017, “Taking Charge: Government Ownership in a Complex Context”, aimed to assess how well the ARTF is a fit-for-purpose mechanism that can adapt to Government needs, purpose and priorities as presented in the ANPDF.
The main conclusion is that in a challenging and rapidly changing context, the ARTF remains a critical arena for joint analysis, discussion and decision; a mechanism for directive, prioritized collective action; a cost-efficient tool for channeling financial and technical support to the Government’s priorities; and an enduring commitment and partnership with Afghanistan’s future that allows and invites critical assessments of choices ahead. The review put forward a number of recommendations, some of which are already being implemented by the ARTF Administrator and partners.