Client name: UK Department for International Development (DFID)

Duration: 2007 – 2013

Location: Helmand, Afghanistan

Coffey facilitated the rollout of sub-national governance programming in Helmand, Afghanistan.


Violent conflict permeates all aspects of Afghanistan’s social and political culture, with perceptions that insecurity is rising, as much due to crime and personal insecurity as the insurgency.  The heavily centralised government prescribed by the Constitution is overlaid on top of informal sub-national systems of self-determination which emerged at a local level in the absence of an effective state. 

The gap left by the absence of an effective, legitimate state at the sub-national level has been filled by militia commanders, criminal elements, and (in some areas) insurgents, further undermining local governance, service delivery, and the legitimacy of the central state.  In eastern provinces, tribal structures and authorities remain strong and legitimate, but in southern provinces they are less strong and in cases are corrupted by narcotics interests.

The goal of this program was to promote effective and transparent governance practices to improve planning, policy implementation, rule of law and responsiveness to community needs and concerns.


We developed an understanding of the local context. We helped develop techniques to engage better with Afghani institutions to reconcile formal Afghan concerns with traditional informal governance practices. This allowed the creation of mechanisms that represented local concerns and brought participation and transparency to government decision making and operations.

We worked with our partners and the Afghan government to strengthen provincial public administration, criminal justice, and representative and planning institutions to fulfil their mandates.

Through an integrated package of support for governance reforms, the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team was able to improve the economic conditions for more effective development work. 


The program delivered many tangible results, including:

  • improved capacity of districts to prioritise, plan and deliver development activities through the production of District Development Plans that enable communities to access funding and services
  • improved capacity of the provincial government to manage development concerns and liaise effectively with the central government in Kabul
  • designed and implemented the UK/Danish funded District Delivery Programme (DDP)
  • developed and implemented mechanisms to support local representative bodies to access direct budget support for more effective government services in Helmand.