FORMAL AND INFORMAL
GOVERNANCE IN AFGHANISTAN
Asian Institute of Technology (AIT)
School of Environment, Resources and Development (SERD)
Regional and Rural Development Planning (RRDP)
Decentralization and good governance
Instructor: Soparth Pongquan
Prepared by: Palwasha Tokhy Meranzai
Table of Contents:
• Background information about afghan
• Afghan views of governance
• Policy making
• Service delivery
• Conclusion and Lessons learned
Background information about afghan government
• Afghanistan is an Islamic Republic having three branches of the
power (executive, legislative and judiciary) which are based on
check balance. The executive power is led by elected
president, consists cabinet, ministries, governors, provincial councils
and military forces (ANSF, ANA).
• The main problem of Afghan government is capacity and corruption.
• Afghan government does not have the capability or capacity to
govern and many government officials steal public money.
• The good governance approach to stabilization and development in
Afghanistan has been failed.
Afghan views of governance:
• CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies) definition:
Governance has four sets or faces of public activities.
• So based on definition three types of government can be formed in
Afghanistan. Formal, informal and illicit.
• Formal governance are formed according to the constitutional of Afghanistan.
They are under the rules and selected by people in a direct election.
• Informal governance which is performed by Jirga (a group of elders selected by
people, with out formal election) Shura (Parliament, selected by formal
election), Mullah (religious persons), Khan (influence persons) they work also
under the law.
• The illicit bodies are formed illegally and they fight against the government.
Institutions Networks Policies Services
political party election, rule of
Informal jirga, shura,
kin, ethnic kin, ulema
Illicit local Taliban, local
rule of man
• In general more Afghans believe that both formal and informal
institutions are doing a good job of governing but formal institutions
are doing bit better than informal except in the justice sector
because justice comes under the duty frame of formal institution.
• People do not feel sympathy for the illicit networks but are
disappointed for the high level of corruption in the country and
confidence about ability of informal institution.
• Most of the people are happy about the sub national government
than national because they believe that sub national government is
• A strong majority of Afghans believe that religious leaders are
2. Policy making
• There is strong support for democracy overall, but afghans view
through democracy is different from western view for democracy.
• In the case of decision making Afghan people prefer to solve their
problems through informal institutions because they are
honest, accessible, fair, trusted, effective, prompt and accordance
with local norms and values.
• The government also has realized that people support the decisions
from Shura or Jirga than the central government that is why in the
major cases they relay on placing Jirgas.
3. Service delivery
• In the terms of service delivery people satisfaction is tend change
from the region to the region. While the security is maintained in the
central and Northern parts of Afghanistan, meanwhile the south is
not happy about future and current situation. It is also related to the
sub national government, as the people are more happy from the
local government than the central or national.
• At the National level people satisfaction is different by service
indicator. Overall people are happy with education and construction
but not happy with health and justice. At the local level people are
much satisfied about availability of most of services i.e
electricity, water of irrigation and jobs. (but it again depend on the
Conclusion and Lesson learned
• So based on the topics discussed many afghan people are
optimistic about informal governance than formal, they believe that
corruption is a problem at the national and provincial level than the
local level and they think lower level government are doing good job.
• Most of Afghans turn to informal institutions for decision making or
problems even when government system is available.
• People prefer to have corrupted government than the authority of
• Afghans want to have strong, capable, accessible government but
the situation of Afghanistan has been change than the past years. If
we compare it is good to have voted leaders by stealing the votes
than coming into power by murdering or it is good to see warlords
just change the face from murderer into the thief (corrupted)
• Afghanistan needs to build its capacity to serve its citizen effectively
and accountably, extend its authority throughout rule of laws or good
• In the real afghan government should not living up to international
expectations and western democracy view.
• Since people have more trust on informal institutions so these
bodies should be form under the formal governance and empower
various bodies of informal governance.
• Improve judiciary system to enhance trust of people.
• Overall in Afghanistan the rule of the law and rule of the man are
walking side by side and rule of man has high support of the people.
With the withdrawal of international forces there are possibilities to
civil war or coming of the warlord into the power so the best for the
international forces is to make the government capable to handle the
Robert D. Lamb, Center for Strategic and International Studies (2012)
“Formal and informal governance in Afghaistan” pages1-23