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Development assistance in Afghanistan

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Overview of Australia’s aid program to Afghanistan

How we are helping

2018-19 Total Australian ODA Estimated Outcome
$82.1 million

2019-20 Bilateral Budget Estimate
$80.0 million

2019-20 Total Australian ODA Estimate
$82.1 million

Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries in the world where conflict severely limits provision of services, and gender inequality and violence against women is endemic. Ongoing development assistance from the international community remains critical to prospects for steady progress and preserving fragile gains.

In 2019-20, the Australian Government will provide an estimated $82.1 million in total Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Afghanistan, including an estimated $80.0 million in bilateral country program funding managed by DFAT.

Afghanistan is undergoing a critical transition. After more than a decade of operations, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force finalised the transfer of security responsibility to the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) at the end of 2014. That same year, historic Presidential and Provincial elections led to the inauguration of President Ashraf Ghani and the new National Unity Government.

In this 'Transformation Decade', Australia and the international community have an interest in supporting Afghanistan to become a more prosperous, secure and self-reliant nation. Towards this objective, Australia and other donors have committed to help strengthen and align with government systems by providing at least 50 per cent of development assistance as 'on-budget' support, and aligning at least 80 per cent of assistance with Afghanistan's National Priority Programs. At the 2016 NATO Summit in Warsaw, Australia extended its USD100 commitment (including USD20 million in ODA-eligible support for the Afghan police) to sustain Afghanistan's security forces to 2020.

During President Ghani's Guest of Government visit to Australia in April 2017, Australia and Afghanistan signed a new development partnership, reaffirming our Brussels 2016 commitment to maintain our annual $80 million aid program to Afghanistan to 2020. Australia has provided more than $1.42 billion in ODA to Afghanistan since 2001.

Afghanistan faces significant ongoing development challenges. Its human, physical, social and institutional infrastructure has been devastated by over three decades of war. More than a third of the population lives on less than USD1.25 a day. Only 17 per cent of women and fewer than half of men are literate, while more than 87 per cent of women experience some form of violence. Around 76 per cent of Afghanistan's population lives in rural areas, where low crop productivity and cyclical drought and flooding are persistent threats to livelihoods and food security. In an average year, 250,000 Afghans are affected by natural disasters.

On 9 March 2018, then-Foreign Minister Bishop announced a new approach to humanitarian funding for Afghanistan and Pakistan, meeting the Prime Minister's 2016 UN Refugee Summit commitment to support refugees and internally displaced peoples and host communities. Protracted conflict and instability in the region has created one of the largest humanitarian crisis with over 15 million people in need of assistance in 2018.

The Regional Humanitarian Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan ($60 million, 2018-2020) enhances the strategic focus, effectiveness and efficiency of Australia's humanitarian funding. We will strengthen the links between our humanitarian and development program priorities to focus on food security and community resilience, protection and essential health care for vulnerable groups including women and children. We will partner with the World Food Programme, UN Populations Fund (UNFPA) and UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, (UNOCHA) to help address these immediate needs.

Australia's aid program in Afghanistan focuses on achieving three strategic objectives, as outlined below and detailed in the DFAT Afghanistan Aid Investment Plan 2015-18.

A new Aid Investment Plan, under development at the time of the Australian Aid Budget Summary's publication, will govern Australian aid in 2018-2020. The new Aid Investment Plan will set out broad directions and principles for Australian aid, and cover major current commitments.

Objective 1: Supporting the Afghan Government to maintain economic growth and institute more effective and accountable governance

Afghanistan faces major constraints to economic growth and stability. Insecurity remains a foremost concern, hampering investor and consumer confidence, and expansion of the private sector. Australia directly assists the Afghan Government to support economic growth, security and effective service delivery, and to strengthen public financial management.

Supporting the Afghan Government to maintain economic growth and institute more effective and accountable governance

Objective 2: Empowering women and girls by addressing barriers to their social, political and economic participation

Gender inequality in Afghanistan is among the worst in the world. Australia's support prioritises women's participation in economic activity by targeting women in rural livelihood interventions; increasing girls' literacy rates; and combating violence against women through improved support services, access to justice and advocacy efforts.

Empowering women and girls by addressing barriers to their social, political and economic participation

Objective 3: Building resilience and supporting at-risk populations

In Afghanistan, widespread vulnerability to poverty, natural hazards and protracted conflict fuel instability and hinder development and economic growth. Australia is helping to increase rural populations' access to economic opportunities and to protect their livelihoods against shocks, as well as providing flexible, responsive and coordinated humanitarian assistance across the country.

Building resilience and supporting at-risk populations

Our results

  • Through our funding to the World Bank-managed Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, Australia has helped to increase female staff in the country's health facilities to 86 per cent (up from 74 per cent in 2014), and increase the number of births attended by a skilled health worker to 939,000 in 2017 (up from 732,000 in 2016)
  • Through our funding to Ending Violence Against Women initiative, Australia has supported four Women's Protection Centres, providing shelter and support services to 1,670 women and their children during the 2017/18 financial year.
  • Australia's funding to respond to the ongoing humanitarian crisis, has helped provide critical assistance, including protection assistance to 1.47 million beneficiaries through the Afghanistan Common Humanitarian Fund managed by UNOCHA
Last Updated: 2 April 2019
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