image image image


iconDEVELOPMENT Updated February 3 2010

Section Contents:  Assistance Needs | The Afghanistan Compact | Afghan-led Development Mechanisms | Views on Progress


Assistance Needs

Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Its human development index stands far behind those of its regional neighbors. In fact, the state of human development in Afghanistan in 2007 has worsened over the last three years. Over the past two decades, war and natural disasters have led to the death, injury and displacement of millions of people and left the country's infrastructure in ruins. A significant part of the Afghan population remains dependent on aid, and large areas of the country are inaccessible to aid workers because of lack of security.

Some key 2007 statistics:

• GDP per capita has risen from $683 in 2002 (in PPP terms) to $964 in 2005 (41 % increase). Disaggregating this figure reveals a significant gender imbalance: $478 for women and $1428 for men.

• Afghanistan has one of the lowest life expectancies in the world. It fell from 44.5 in 2003 to 43.1 in 2005.

• 6.6 million Afghans (20 % of the population) do not meet their minimum food requirements. 50 % of Afghan children under five are underweight.

• The gross enrolment ratio (primary, secondary and tertiary education levels combined) has risen to 59.3 % in 2005, up from 45 % for 2002. Schools enrolment has grown from around 900,000 to nearly 5.4 million in the last five years. However, over half of school age children remain out of school. The national average for attendance of children six to thirteen years of age is estimated at 37 %. Enrollment in urban areas is considerably higher than that in rural areas, and there is almost a 1:1 ratio of girls and boys attending primary school in urban areas.

• Provinces in the South and South-east continue to exhibit particularly low levels of enrollment for girls and boys. Zabul (1 %), Uruzgan (1%), Helmand (6%) and Paktika (9 %), in the South and South-east have the lowest levels of enrollment. Insecurity has become an increasingly formidable challenge to accessing education.

• Adult literacy fell from 28.7 % in 2003 to 23.5 % in 2005 (32.4 % for men and 12.6 % for women.

• Violence against women in Afghanistan is widely believed to have reached epidemic proportions. Yet, because the majority of cases remain unreported due to the severe restrictions women face in seeking justice or redress, limited evidence exists to confirm this perception. Between 60 and 80 % of marriages in the country are forced. Child marriages constitute about 40 % of all marriages.

• The probability at birth of not surviving to age 40 is .419 in Afghanistan. The rate of Afghans dying before their first birthday has fallen from 165 to 135 per 1,000 live births. This results in 40,000 more successful births each year. Yet as available data indicates, the mortality rate for children under five (257 per 1,000 live births) remains  the world's third highest. In other words, a quarter of all children die before they reach the age of five.

• Afghanistan's maternal mortality ratio (MMR) is estimated at 1600 per 100,000 live births. Kabul had an MMR of 400 per 100,000, and a remote rural district of Badakhshan 6,500 per 100,000 live births. This particular local rate is the highest ever recorded, even in a country with one of the highest MMRs in the world. This highlights that women in rural areas do not have access to any form of reproductive health care, as well as the urgent need to continue to expand and improve the provision of health care services for women in remote rural areas. Many of the deaths of women and children are largely preventable. Such deaths are a direct result of the young age of marriage, overall poor health, frequency of child birth as well as virtually no access to gynecological and obstetrical surveys.

• The population of Afghanistan is extremely dependent on environmental resources, particularly natural resources, for their livelihoods. Environmental degradation directly threatens the livelihoods of Afghans. Forest cover has been reduced by almost half since 1978. Access to safe drinking water varies considerably throughout the country. Only 31 % of households nationwide

have access to safe drinking water.

• 5-7 million landmines and large quantities of unexploded ordinance remain and kill or wound up to 100 people monthly.  In 2006, 132 million square kilometres of land (approximately the size of Nicaragua) were cleared.

• Most of Afghanistan's roads have been destroyed, and many of the most vulnerable communities live in inaccessible mountain regions, which are often cut off by heavy snow during the winter.

• About two million Afghans are still living abroad as refugees, most of them in Iran and Pakistan. Another 3.5 million have moved back to Afghanistan since 2001. Some were able to return to their communities and rebuild their lives, but about 40 per cent ended up in Kabul where they have no roots or family.

Afghanistan's economy comprises a legal sphere (pertaining to formal economic activities within the letter of the law), a grey sphere (so-called informal activity, outside of taxation or legal permission but widely tolerated) and a criminal sphere (strictly against the law, with a damaging and corrosive effect on society). Even though analysts often try to look at these spheres from different perspectives, it is impossible to distinguish strictly between these various categories. Research has shown that the networks which support war cannot easily be separated out and criminalized in relation to the networks that characterize peace. The intermingling and overlapping of various "legal", "grey" and "criminal" flows - of arms, drugs, smuggled luxury goods along with wheat, water melons and labor migrants - is most apparent, though not always visible.

A striking feature of Afghanistan's economic structure is the dominance of the informal sector - not only in agriculture and in the drug industry, but also in most other sectors. It is inherently difficult to estimate the size of the informal economy; nevertheless, it is clear that some 80-90 percent of economic activity in Afghanistan occurs in the informal sector. The booming non-formal economy is highly regulated by informal institutions and is definitely not "free." The appearance of economic dynamism hides the fact that informal social regulation actively restricts competition and participation. This lack of competition means that the distribution of the benefits of markets (and therefore of economic growth) is skewed towards those who are already wealthy and powerful.

For a detailed economic overview read the Afghanistan chapter of the Asian Development Bank's flagship publication "Asian Development Outlook 2008".

The Afghanistan Compact

With the completion of the parliamentary elections in September 2005, the Bonn process that had guided reconstruction and stabilization efforts in Afghanistan since the end of 2001 came to an end. However, the immense scope of needs (see above) meant that continued international support was required to continue the reconstruction and stabilization of Afghanistan. As a framework for such support, the Afghan government and its international partners adopted the five-year "Afghanistan Compact" for the period of 2006-2010.

The Afghanistan Compact addressed three focus areas: 1) security; 2) governance, rule of law and human rights; and 3) economic and social development. Counter-narcotics efforts were considered as a cross-cutting priority. In the Compact, ISAF and OEF are expected to remain in Afghanistan and continue coordinated activities with the Afghan government and military through 2010 and the Afghan National Army is expected to reach a total of 70,000 soldiers by 2010. Police and counter-narcotics operations are also expected to expand. Moreover, the disarmament of "illegal armed groups," or militias that are not registered with the government, was targeted to be achieved by the end of 2007.

The Afghanistan Compact encourages donors to channel aid through the Afghan government, and within the framework of the (Interim) Afghanistan National Development Strategy. More implementation of development through the national government would in theory allow it to create much needed capacity, and also create an aid structure that the government can manage within its budgetary and human capacity limits, as well as having the effect of boosting the government's legitimacy. Independent action by donor agencies can create structures that, when turned over to the Afghan government, are beyond the Afghan government's ability to manage.

Through the Afghanistan Compact, the Afghan government is given responsibility for setting its own aid priorities and for establishing reliable methods of accountability. Increasingly, Afghan partner organizations and the Afghan private sector are to be used when channeling aid without going through the central government. The Afghanistan Compact was endorsed by the Security Council in Resolution 1659 (15 February 2006), though the Afghanistan Compact is not a legally binding document but rather a strategic framework for development. 

A Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board was established to monitor progress on the Afghanistan Compact. For a critical perspective of the Afghanistan Compact, see the International Crisis Group Policy Briefing Asia 59 "Afghanistan's Endangered Compact." 29 January 2007. This brief raised such issues as setting deadlines for achievements that are unrealistic, not making the international community accountable for reporting on projects, not giving the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board sufficient organizational strength, and insufficient involvement of the National Assembly of the government (Wolesi Jirga) in monitoring the Afghanistan Compact.

In 2008 a report on the implementation of the Afghanistan Compact by the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB) explained that the Afghan Compact was designed to be implemented with overly ambitious due to the changing circumstances. These include the worsening security situation, the prevalence of the opium economy, a fragile licit economy, corruption and inadequate effectiveness and management of aid. To meet these challenges will look to further strengthen their policy formulation, implementation and monitoring capabilities. By strengthening the JCMB the body will be able to better formulate policy, problem solves and strategically coordinate between the Afghan government and the international community. The Afghan National Development Strategy (ANDS)

To provide more detailed guidelines for the implementation of the Afghanistan Compact benchmarks, the Afghan government has prepared a five-year Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS). The national strategy, which covers the five-year period from 2008 to 2013 and was approved by President Hamid Karzai and his Cabinet on April 21, 2008, envisages a large increase in resources for the next five years, the vast majority in the form of donor assistance. It serves as Afghanistan's Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) and uses the pillars, principles and benchmarks of the Afghanistan Compact as a foundation.

The ANDS builds on a number of strategy documents that were used to guide development efforts in recent years, including the the National Development Framework of 2002, the Securing Afghanistan's Future report of 2004 and the Interim ANDS (IANDS) of 2005. The IANDS had been initiated because previous strategy documents had involved only limited consultation. With the introduction of the IANDs, UNAMA and other UN agencies committed to develop their plans relative to the government's framework.

Experts have argued that there is an urgent need for stronger prioritization of programs in the ANDS. The number of policy measures and other actions is overwhelming and
needs to be streamlined, for decision-making, implementation, and monitoring purposes. An additional concern, particularly for NGOs, has been that identified priorities are not clearly linked to poverty reduction.

In its review of the final draft of the ANDS, called the Joint Staff Advisory Note (JSAN), the World Bank concluded in June 2008 that the Afghan government's limited ability to effectively spend the aid it receives poses a major constraint to tackling its important development challenges. The JSAN says that increases in actual spending on large infrastructure projects will take time and require thorough preparation. It suggests measures to enhance the government's spending and institutional capacity, for example by further improving public financial management, procurement systems, and the budgetary process. It also says public administration reforms and better management and coordination of foreign technical assistance are urgent priorities.In November 2009 the International Monetary fund released its first report on the ANDS. The report was a positive assessment of the programs first year. Progress has been mixed, seeing moderate gains in the areas of monitoring and reporting of development results and major advances in change management process. Despite the growing insecurity progress had been made in the ownership and leadership of Afghanistan's development program. It had done so by institutionalizing the mechanisms for sustaining intra-governmental coordination and change management process.


Afghan-led Development Mechanisms

Recovery, reconstruction and development efforts were initially led by the UN and other donors. Now leadership in this field is increasingly being handed over to the Afghan government. Nevertheless the largest portion of foreign aid still is implemented outside the government's budget. The following are the key mechanisms for the Afghan government to channel and manage foreign development assistance.

The Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund

The Afghan government's preference is for donors to directly support its operating budget, both to cover recurring costs in initial years but also to build government capacity and support priority reconstruction programs and projects. The Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) was established in May 2002 for this purpose. From the date of its commencement of operation to December 2007, the ARTF successfully mobilized $2.4 billion in grant contributions from 28 bilateral donors. It has become the primary instrument for financing the civilian operating budget.

The ARTF is administered by the World Bank. It pools donor funds to the Afghan government into one mechanism, thus facilitating the management and oversight of donor funds.[22] However, only a small portion of donor funds go through this mechanism, and donors continue to fund projects bilaterally. Among the top donors to the ARTF as of December 2007 were: Canada, the UK, the European Union, Germany, the United States, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden (see diagram below). The fund is also managed by the Islamic Development Bank, Asian Development Program and UN Development Program.

The London Conference on January 28th 2010 proved to be fruitful for the ARTF. The Afghan government and its donor agreed that the funds would be focused through a clear Afghan government strategy. The ATRF budget for its 2010-13 window has been set at $2.6 billion which is a 32 percent increase in what was available over the past three years.

The new ARTF will focus on agriculture, infrastructure and the irrigation sector. It is the rural area, where 80 percent of the Afghan population live, that receives the most funds from the ARTF. Money is channelled directly through the Afghan government to finance the building of roads, schools and other infrastructure. In addition the ARTF also funds the National Rural Access Program (NRAP) and the National Solidarity Program (NSP). The ARTF also finances Afghanistan's education program. The funds go towards school construction, upgrade and the 95000 management committees. Through the ARTF and EQUIP 6.3 million children are able to go to school, including 2.2 million girls.Two other trust funds operate in similar fashion, the Law and Order Trust Fund (LOFTA) for expenditures related to police and security, and a Counter-Narcotics Trust Fund. Both funds are being administered by UNDP.


The diagram above shows total contributions to the ARTF in Fiscal Year 1386, which corresponds to the period of March 2007 to March 2008.

National Solidarity Programme (NSP)

One of the most successful programs supported through the ARTF (as well as a multitude of other funding sources) is the National Solidarity Program. The NSP was created by the Afghan government in June 2003 to develop the ability of Afghan communities to identify, plan, manage and monitor their own development projects. Its goal is to lay the foundation for a sustainable form of inclusive local governance, rural reconstruction, and poverty alleviation.

Based on the idea of local ownership of development, it consists of four key program elements: facilitating the election of Community Development Councils (CDCs, composed of local community leaders), building the capacity of CDCs to prepare proposals for priority development projects, providing direct block grants for the implementation of locally proposed projects, and linking CDCs with government and NGO agencies and donors to improve access to services and resources. Once elected, the CDCs work to identify what their communities most need in terms of development projects. As of May 2008, NSP had completed almost 20,000 subprojects in a total of 351 districts throughout all 34 provinces of the country. The intended result is a more collaborative relationship between communities, central and provincial government, and local and international NGOs. $600 million was given by donors to the NSP through the ARTF.

The World Bank has claimed that the NSP has reached 78% of Afghanistan's rural population, providing improvements in access to drinking water and sanitation, irrigation systems, schools, markets, and electrical power. Water supply, transport, irrigation, and power projects form the bulk of those proposed so far. While the percentages of people that now have access to these basic needs remains low, such as 11% with access to schools, it is nonetheless an improvement on previous levels. The NSP has been hailed as successful in generating development and contributing to stability by donor agencies and NGOs. In its Project Information document on the NSP, the World Bank identified one lesson-learned as being that it is possible to undertake development programs at the community level in the volatile socio-political environment of Afghanistan. 

The Ministry of Rural Reconstruction and Development has written a detailed description of the NSP methodology, available here.

Microfinance Investment Support Facility for Afghanistan (MISFA)

MISFA is one of the world's largest mircofinance programs. It was established in 2003 as a private financial institution to facilitate coordination among donors to micro-finance programs, and to help meet the demand for small credit. MISFA's ambition is to help young microfinance institutions scale up rapidly, offering performance-based funding for operations and technical assistance. An important goal in this context was and is to use public funding to invest in institutions that would become sustainable and able to grow further without requiring more subsidies.

MISFA's role is to streamline and direct donor funding more effectively. As of March 2008 MISFA had disbursed over $420 million in loans to more than 428,000 clients, more than two thirds of them women. Canada is the largest single donor to the program, having contributed over $96 million to the program as of May 2008. In an October 2006 report, Mid-Term Review of the Micro-Finance Sector and MISFA in Afghanistan, MISFA was credited with highly successful performance in building a microfinance sector, and it was deemed a model for microfinance programs in other post-conflict countries. 

According to its most recent review, as of November 30th 2009 the MISFA's 16 implementing partners have served 438,508 savings and loans clients for a portfolio of $107.9 million. It has done so through a network of 307 branches in 27 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces.  Since its inception the MISFA has given out 1.5 million loans worth $713 million.  The main aim of this is the Afgahization of the microfinance sector. Already microfinance institutions employ 4109 Afghans, 37 percent of them are women. Over 90 of the professional positions and 50 percent of the management positions are occupied by Afghans. In an Initial Baseline/Impact Study conducted in 2007 by Dr. Martin Greeley and Mohit Chaturvedi highlighted that majority of the loans were used to create new businesses which created 1.5 new jobs each. 80 percent of female clients reported that their husbands and relatives displayed and improved attitude and over all clients were better off than non clients.Mine Action Program for Afghanistan (MAPA)

The Mine Action Program for Afghanistan (MAPA) is the world's largest mine action program.  Today it is an umbrella organization composing a variety of partners working to clear unexploded ordinance.  Afghanistan became a signatory to the Ottawa Convention to ban landmines on 1 March 2003. This commits Afghanistan to destroying all of its mine stockpiles by 2007.

Mines/unexploded ordinance and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) directly affect 4.2 million Afghans. More than 2,300 communities in 32 of the 34 Afghan provinces are contaminated by these weapons, killing or injuring 62 Afghans a month, according to a 2006 landmine-impact survey. Best estimates put the number of mine victims and survivors at over 100,000 since 1979. The Government of Afghanistan has established a Mine Action Consultative Group (MACG) and developed an annual "Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan Public Investment Programme." 

The United Nations Mine Action Centre for Afghanistan (UNMACA), a project of the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), currently has de facto responsibility for planning, management and oversight of all mine action activities in Afghanistan on behalf of the Government of Afghanistan. As such, the UNMACA coordinates the government's programme under the direction from the MACG. The UNMACA coordinates the work of some 8,400 Afghans who work for implementing partners under the rubric of the MAPA. Both UNICEF and UNDP play key roles in mine action efforts.  As of January 2007 there are seven mine action centres: Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Mazar-e-Sharif, Kunduz, Gardez, and Jalalabad.  These offices work in cooperation with 15 Afghan NGOs.  The stated goal is to clear all known contaminated areas by 2013.

The 2010 clearance strategy is to reduce by 70 percent the land area contaminated by land mines and unexploded ordinances. By the end of 2010 all unsafe, surplus and ammunition will be destroyed. The MAPA has already completed one objective when, in 2007, it disposed of all stockpiled anti-personnel mines. 

Donor Response

In March 2008, the NGO coalition ACBAR released a report analyzing the effectiveness of the international donor response in Afghanistan. According to the authors of the report, donors have provided some $25 billion of security-related assistance since 2002 (primarily for building Afghan security forces), yet only $15 billion has been provided for civil reconstruction and development. Funding for development is a fraction of that spent on military activities and operations. Since 2001 the US has appropriated $127 billion for the war in Afghanistan (including for security-related assistance). The US military currently spends nearly $36 billion a year in the country, some $100 million a day; yet the average volume of aid spending by all donors since 2001 is just $7 million per day.

This paucity of aid is reflected in comparative aid per capita figures. It has been estimated that in the first two years following the international intervention in 2001 Afghanistan received $57 per capita, whilst Bosnia and East Timor received $679 and $233 per capita respectively.

The US is by far the largest donor to Afghanistan, contributing one-third of all aid since 2002. Other major donors are: Japan, the UK, EC, WB, Germany and Canada. Given the relative size of their economies, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden also make substantial contributions. France and Spain, however, have made scant bilateral contributions since 2002 of just $80 and $26 million. France's economy is three times that of The Netherlands', yet its aid contribution is five times smaller.

Donors are far quicker to make promises than to report on disbursements and shortfalls. As a whole, the $15 billion of aid to Afghanistan since 2002 is less than two-thirds of the $25 billion that donors had committed to provide over this period. Many donors have failed to fulfill their aid commitments (formal undertakings given to the Afghan government). As exceptions, Japan and Canada have each delivered over 90% of their respective aid commitments for 2002-2008.

These shortfalls are partly attributable to challenging operating conditions, high levels of corruption and weak absorption capacities, and the figures may not capture all donor spending. However, given the magnitude of the shortfalls, they also underscore the importance of donors increasing efforts to mitigate or adapt to such problems, to factor them in to program planning, and to improve the flow of information to the Afghan government.

A report by the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR) in March 2008 highlighted that 40 percent of aid spent in Afghanistan went back to rich countries. This was done through corporate profits, consultant salaries and inflated costs. An example of inflated costs is the road built from the centre of Kabul to the international airport. This cost the US $2.3million per kilometre which is four times the cost of building a road in Afghanistan.

The ACBAR, which is an alliance of international aid agencies working in Afghanistan, commented that reconstruction in Afghanistan required a sustained and substantial flow of aid. The primary goal was to build Afghan capacities and help Afghans help themselves. The report made the following recommendations:

Increased volume of aid, particularly to rural areas.

Transparency by donors and improved information flows to the Afghan government.

  • Better measurement of the impact, efficiency and relevance of aid
  • An independent commission on aid effectiveness to monitor donor performance.
  • Effective coordination between donors and with the Afghan government.

The UN itself has spoken out against the lack of coordination and accountability. In July of 2009 the UN in Afghanistan criticized donors for not going through the Afghan government and for not declaring their spending. At a news conference, UN special advisor on development in Afghanistan, Mark Ward, revealed at two out of every three aid dollars is spent outside the Afghan government. This makes it difficult to verify if their projects are in line with the government's over all development strategy. UNAMA regarded this act as shameful and applauded the Afghan government for public identifying donors who did not report their spending.Top 10 Aid Donors to Afghanistan:

*Chart shows amount committed in blue and amount disbursed in green.  From the Afghan Donor Assistance Database  Viewed April 2007. 


Aid disbursed 2002-2008*

Rank among Donors


$5.022 billion 



$1.393 billion



   $1.266 billion   


European Commission

$1.074 billion


World Bank

 $0.852 billion 



$0.767 billion



$0.730 billion


Asia Development Bank

$0.547 billion



$0.424 billion



$0.407 billion 


*Data from ACBAR's report "Falling Short. Aid Effectiveness in Afghanistan." The table is based on Afghan Ministry of Finance data, provided February 2008.

10th - 20th largest donors**






UN Agencies

Russian Fed.

Aga Khan

**Total aid disbursed ranges from $277 million to $119 million each.

United States

The US remains the lead donor by far in Afghanistan and has enormous influence.  From 2001-2011 the US has pledged more than $12.3 billion in development and humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. From 2002-2008, $5.0 billion were disbursed, while another $5.3 billion were committed but not disbursed. USAID, the US government's development agency, is the largest bilateral development aid donor in Afghanistan. The agency's FY 2007 - FY 2008 budget request for Afghanistan is $2.6 billion, with the largest amounts going to roads ($763 million), power ($398 million), and alternative livelihoods ($350 million). In 2004, the $1.2 billion spent by USAID was more than all other donors combined. The simple fact of amount spent and resources available, and that the US considers itself to be the nation with the most at stake in Afghanistan's development, gives USAID "the most influence with the Afghan government and with other donors." For example, India has devoted most of its resources to the power sector, and Japan is devoting resources to the Kabul-Kandahar highway at USAID's "insistence."

The special relationship between Afghanistan and the U.S. was clarified in a "joint declaration of strategic partnership," on 23 May 2005. This agreement entails regular high-level exchanges in the political, economic, and security fields. Several key objectives include supporting good governance, the rule of law and human rights, building a strong Afghan government, encouraging the advancement of freedom and democracy in the wider region, reducing regional tensions and restoring Afghanistan's role as a trade bridge, and facilitating the involvement of US businesses that speed the development of Afghan firms and the private sector. The agreement also calls for helping to organize Afghan security forces, continued anti-terrorism activities, strengthening Afghanistan's ties with NATO, the continued stationing of American forces in Afghanistan, and possibly assisting Afghanistan in the case of an external threat.

World Bank

The World Bank is the fifth largest donor to Afghanistan in terms of aid disbursed from 2002-2008. In 2007 the Afghan Donor Assistance Database ranked the World Bank as the second largest donor in terms of total grants and credits to the country (US$1.4 billion). Since April 2002, the World Bank has committed over $1.65 billion for 37 development and emergency reconstruction projects and three budget support operations in Afghanistan. This support comprises $1 billion in grants and $436.4 million in interest-free credits. It has an action plan called the Interim Strategy Note (ISN) for Afghanistan, which is aligned with the Afghan government's Interim ANDS (see below). World Bank support under the ISN has shifted slightly from previous the previous Transitional Support Strategy to focus more on the rural economy. Overall, the World Bank strategy focuses on building the capacity and accountability of the state to ensure the provision of affordable, accessible, and adequate services; improving rural livelihoods and promoting the rural economy; supporting the growth of a formal, modern, and competitive private sector. 

The World Bank is the largest international donor to the Afghan government's National Solidarity Programme, the flagship program supporting small-scale reconstruction and development projects. As of May 2008, about $482 million had been distributed through this program by the World Bank. The program received 60% of that amount through World Bank financing, 35% through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, and 5% through the Japan Social Development Fund. The World Bank also administers the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund.

The World Bank website on Afghanistan has extensive documents, statistics, data, and other reports concerning World Bank programs, the National Solidarity Programme, and economic indicators in Afghanistan.  Some sample documents include a July 2007 report on "Service Delivery and Governance at the Sub-National Level", Project Information for the NSP, and analysis on Afghanistan's Opium Economy

Asian Development Bank

As of December 2007, Afghanistan has received cumulative loans of $892 million since joining the ADB at its founding in 1966. As a result of conflict, ADB's operations in Afghanistan were suspended from 1992 to 2002. Currently, ADB focuses on the road transport, energy, agriculture, and natural resource management sectors. It also manages the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund along with the Islamic Development Bank, UNDP, and the World Bank. A new Country Partnership Strategy will be approved in 2008. The CPS is fully congruent with the ANDS. Overall, this new strategy will be a continuation of the ADB's partnership with the Afghan government in recent years.

More detailed information and extensive publications on ADB activities are available on the ADB website at:

European Union

The European Union has been involved in Afghanistan since 2001. In November 2005, the EU and Afghanistan adopted a Joint Declaration setting out a new partnership. The declaration outlines increased cooperation across a range of areas including support to security sector reform and justice sector reform (for more information on security sector reform, visit the "Coordination Arrangments" page of this website). The European Commission's current Country Strategy Paper for Afghanistan (2007-2013) aims to strike a balance between the continuation of existing, successful programs and new priorities. There are three focal sectors: rural development, governance, and health.

The EU and its member states collectively accounted for over 30 % of the funds pledged at the Tokyo Conference in 2002 and the Berlin Conference in 2004. According to its own website, the European Commission states that its reconstruction program is "on track": the pledge to provide €1 billion in reconstruction funding over the 2002-2006 period was exceeded ahead of time in November 2007.

The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) has been active in Afghanistan since 1992.  Since 2001 it has delivered €261 million in humanitarian aid to vulnerable populations in Afghanistan. ECHO's current work in Afghanistan is guided by its Global Plan for Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan 2007.

Views on Progress

Among the recommendations advocated by Afghan and international NGOs for improved aid effectiveness in Afghanistan are the following points:

Whole-of-country approach

Development programs should target poor and vulnerable populations throughout the country in order to reduce pockets of exclusion. Aid should be delivered in an equitable and fair manner among various ethnic groups and geographic regions, based on needs and community priorities rather than political and military objectives. Donor aid to Afghanistan should be coordinated with overall security and diplomacy approaches, but the ultimate aim of this aid must remain the reduction of poverty, economic regeneration, and good governance. Particular caution is required when providing aid to communities in insecure areas. Decades of experience in conflict zones clearly demonstrates that aid delivered in ways that are not sensitive to the conflict dynamics can actually amplify the conflict and put innocent civilians at further risk.

Poverty reduction

Unless the 54% of the population living below the poverty line in Afghanistan can access their basic human rights, the country's overall economic, social, and political stability will not improve significantly. The international community should work with the Government of Afghanistan to devise a realistic implementation strategy for the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) with heavy attention to pro-poor approaches. All actors must keep in mind that pro-poor growth is not reflected in absolute (monetary) growth but in increased social justice. Practically, such a strategy would begin by addressing immediate needs and then proceed to ensure adequate social protection for the poor, for instance through "pro-poor" budgeting.

Local needs and priorities

The design of projects and programs should respect local needs and preferences. Accordingly, continued support should be given to the preparation and execution of clearly structured and feasible provincial development plans. Programs to build the capacity of CDCs should be supported, as they require further mentoring to continue their positive role in community-based development. They should be seen as the primary partners for government and NGOs to engage in development at the community level, but they require additional training and knowledge to perform this role well.

Presence outside Kabul

In order to enhance responsiveness and transparency, Afghan authorities and UN agencies must significantly increase their presence outside Kabul. The center of gravity for planning, governance, and implementation needs to shift to the provincial and local levels. Increased technical expertise is needed in the provinces to build the capacity of authorities. In this process, efforts should be made to harness the skills of Afghans, both local as well as Afghan professionals in exile.

Performance of the Afghan government

All line ministries of the Afghan Government need to be supported through capacity building so they are able to integrate conclusions set out in the ANDS into the way they design policies, reform their structures, and prepare and implement their public investment programs. Currently, donors have favored some line ministries over others due to personalities or high-profile mandates, and this has left crucial ministries such as those of Agriculture, Labour & Social Affairs as well as Higher Education significantly weaker and under-resourced.


The quality of coordination among donors and between donors and the Afghan Government must be enhanced. This will require the provision of additional resources to both the JCMB and UNAMA. The JCMB requires a much larger secretariat based in Afghanistan to perform it role properly, and UNAMA at a very minimum must receive the funding required to fully staff its structures.

Humanitarian assistance

A substantial increase in funding - as well as technical support - for humanitarian assistance and coordination is also required. One possibility could involve establishing an independent OCHA office in Afghanistan. At a very minimum, UNAMA's humanitarian affairs division should be significantly enlarged and sufficiently resourced, and the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA)'s capacity strengthened significantly. Afghan and international civil society organizations should receive support to be able to participate effectively in the humanitarian cluster system. Donors should allocate more funding and support to disaster preparedness and mitigation programming.

image image image image image