This document presents an Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF) for the Afghanistan second National Higher Education Strategic Plan (NHESP II) and has been developed in tandem with a Resettlement Policy Framework (RPF) as a combination of due diligence instruments required to address and manage environmental and social impacts associated with the NHESP II. The ESMF will cover and apply to the entire NHESP II.
The framework has been prepared to meet the World Bank safeguard requirements and Government of Afghanistan (GoA) environmental procedures and will be disclosed prior to appraisal of the HEDP. The Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) is the agency responsible for implementing the provisions and recommendations outlined in the ESMF.
1.1 ESMF Approach and Methodology
1.1.1 Objective of the ESMF
The proposed Project (HEDP), aimed at supporting the NHESP II, has been classified as Environment Category B in accordance with the World Bank’s safeguard policies as the activities to be financed under the Project are not expected to have significant environmental or social impacts. Any anticipated impacts can be readily addressed through appropriate mitigation and management measures included in the design and implementation of project-specific activities. However, since the extent of these activities and their location are not known at this time and will depend to a large extent on availability of additional financial resources and assessments in the future, the MoHE has prepared an Environmental and Social Management Framework in accordance with the World Bank’s requirements.
The objective of the ESMF is to provide a framework for effective management of environmental and social issues in the proposed NHESP II. It seeks to both enhance environmental and social development benefits of the NHESP II and mitigate any adverse impacts, in line with GoA and World Bank policies and guidelines on management of environmental and social development issues. The exact site and scale of potential infrastructures to be financed under the NHESP II will be identified and confirmed during its implementation.
1.1.2 Provision of a Resettlement Policy Framework
In addition, in regards to potential land acquisition and in view of the shortcomings of existing land laws, the MoHE has also prepared a sectoral Resettlement Policy Framework (attached as Annex 1). The purpose of the Resettlement Policy Framework (RPF) is to clarify resettlement principles, organizational arrangements, and design criteria to be applied to specific infrastructure investment activities by MoHE as and when they take place. In this way a consistent approach to resettlement practice will be ensured for all activities involving land acquisition and displacement.
The RPF sets out the general principles and steps to be followed in connection with any land acquisition and resultant resettlement which may occur during the implementation of projects such as university or institutes of higher education by or with the co-operation of the Ministry of Higher Education. The RPF is a customized version of an existing RPF, compliant with the provisions of Afghanistan’s current Law on Land Expropriation (2009) and Law on Managing Land Affairs (2008), and with WB Operational Policy 4.12 on Involuntary Resettlement. The original RPF was developed by Ministry of Energy and Water and approved in December 2010 by an inter-ministerial committee, and subsequently customized by various ministries and institutions such as DABS, Ministry of Public Works, Ministry of Mines and Petroleum and Kabul Municipality. The current RPF is based on the Central Asia South Asia Electricity Transmission Project (CASA 1000).
The ESMF has been developed as a tool to be used in implementing recommendations for addressing environmental and social impacts associated with proposed infrastructure activities to be financed under the NHESP II. Its purpose is to: (a) establish clear procedures and methodologies for the environmental and social assessment, review, approval and implementation of investments to be financed under the Project; (b) specify appropriate roles and responsibilities, and outline the necessary reporting procedures, for managing and monitoring environmental and social concerns related to project investments; (c) determine the training, capacity building and technical assistance needed to successfully implement the provisions of the ESMF; and (d) provide practical information resources for implementing the ESMF.
1.1.4 Consultations and Field Visits
The MoHE has discussed the preparation of the ESMF for the Afghanistan NHESP II with different stakeholders, and held a series of consultation meetings including with the World Bank experts on environmental and social issues. In particular, consultations with the World Bank team focused on sharing their experience on ESMF implementation in other countries, discussions on institutional arrangements and monitoring arrangements with respect to the implementation of the Environmental Management Plans (EMP). Findings of the consultations indicated that there are positive impacts associated with the proposed investments and that potential negative environmental and social impacts can be readily addressed through adequate implementation of an Environmental Management Plan. A summary of the consultations is provided in Section 6.
1.1.5 Public Disclosure
For projects such as the HEDP, the World Bank’s Access to Information Policy requires that safeguard-related documents be disclosed before appraisal (i) at the InfoShop and (ii) in country, at publicly accessible locations and in a form and language that are accessible to potentially affected persons.
The MoHE will establish an easily accessible system with different options for public information/disclosure of information for communities and relevant stakeholders to be aware of processes to be followed to register complaints. The MoHE will apply this ESMF prior to approval of any development project funded or implemented by multi-lateral agencies such as the World Bank and others.
The ESMF will be disclosed prior to appraisal in Pashto, Dari and English languages by the Ministry of Higher Education, and will be made available on www.mohe.gov.af.