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Coffey principal Jonathan Moss has been awarded an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) for his work as part of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Helmand, Afghanistan.

The announcement of the award was made this morning as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours List .

“I feel very humbled to be receiving this recognition. My late grandmother was also made a Member of the Order of the British Empire for her work for the British Council in the 1950s, so there is a pleasing family symmetry to this,” he said.

In Helmand, Jonathan was appointed to provide governance advice to the UK and US civil and military missions. As part of a Coffey managed project, he worked to develop techniques that better understood the contextual underpinning of Afghan society and their influence on governance practices. This led to the formation of the district accountability model that more accurately represented local concerns and brought transparency to local government bodies.

“I am a great believer in properly understanding context and in hybrid models of governance – at the heart of this lies a recognition that some level of trust between citizens and the state is a pre-requisite for local stability, and that this, which might be termed popular legitimacy is as, if not more, important than providing good levels of local services.”

As a result of this, Helmand was seen as an example to donors and other provinces in Afghanistan of what could be achieved through building stable government institutions on the back of understanding local contexts.

Jonathan’s colleagues in the field are equally affectionate in their praise for his work. Andrew Collingwood of the Aitebaar project in Pakistan, who worked with Jonathan in Afghanistan, said that he was struck by how well he worked in and around complex politics, balancing the demands of US Marine Generals, British Army colonels, DFID, the FCO, as well as the local Afghani institutions.

“His leadership of the governance team, and his vision, patience and determination to see it through, despite outside pressures was a big part of its (the district accountability model) success,” Andrew said.

“He is also the only man I know who can rouse staff in either Afghanistan or Pakistan by quoting Churchill.”