Overview of Australia’s aid program to Afghanistan

How we are helping

2014-15 Bilateral Outcome
$130.9 million

2015-16 Bilateral Budget Estimate
$78.5 million

2015-16 Total Australian ODA Estimate
$84.6 million

In 2015-16, the Australian Government will provide an estimated $84.6 million in total Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Afghanistan. Of this, DFAT’s bilateral funding for Afghanistan is an estimated $78.5 million, our fourth largest development program in 2015-16.

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 parallel, the Afghan Government is assuming increased responsibility for development expenditure.

In the coming ‘Transformation Decade’, Australia and the rest of 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.  From 2015-17, Australia is providing USD300 million (USD100 million per year) towards international efforts to sustain the ANDSF, of which USD60 million (USD20 million annually) will be drawn from the aid program. The remaining USD240 million is being managed by the Department of Defence.

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. Each year, an estimated 250,000 people are affected by natural disasters.

Australia remains committed to Afghanistan’s development. While we are a medium-sized donor in Afghanistan, we have provided more than $1.1 billion in ODA to the country since 2001. Australia’s aid program in Afghanistan focuses on achieving three strategic objectives, as outlined below and in the DFAT Afghanistan Aid Investment Plan 2015-18.

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 maintain 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

Afghanistan has among the worst gender inequality in the world. Australian support prioritises women’s participation in economic activity through targeting women in rural livelihood interventions; increasing girls’ literacy rates; and improving support services, access to justice and advocacy efforts to combat violence against women.

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 the Public Financial Management Program for Afghanistan, Australia provided public financial management training to more than 900 civil servants in 2014-15, resulting in direct improvements to government health, education, infrastructure and agriculture service delivery.
  • In 2014-15, through Save the Children’s Children of Uruzgan Program, Australia’s support meant that more than 5,000 children were enrolled in school, including more than 2,500 girls.
  • In 2014-15, Australia’s Elimination of Violence against Women Program, delivered through local and international NGOs, funded ten Women’s Protection Centres, providing shelter and support services to 2,372 women and their children; and established a violence against women hotline that received over 2,000 calls in its first three months.
  • In its inception year (2014-15), the Australia Afghanistan Community Resilience Scheme funded NGOs to facilitate training on improved agricultural practices for 8,943 farmers (4,069 women and 4,874 men).
  • During the 2014 winter, Australian funding to the World Food Programme provided food assistance to 215,000 beneficiaries living in remote areas of Afghanistan.
  • From 2013-15, Australian support through the United Nations Office for Project Services constructed 60 per cent of a major 27 kilometre-long gravel road (due for completion by end 2015); and rehabilitated and maintained a further 120 kilometres of gravel roads. 
  • From 2013-15, through the United Nations Development Programme’s National Area Based Development Program, Australia funded the construction of over six kilometres of flood protection retaining walls and a 126 metre-long suspension bridge. This provided flood protection for irrigation canals and over 700 hectares of agricultural land, benefiting more than 1,800 families. 

Our changing program

Australia remains committed to Afghanistan’s development. Our changing aid program in Afghanistan reflects the Afghan Government’s development and reform agendas, its national priority projects, and our 2015-16 Budget. We have sought to ensure that existing funding commitments and priority sectors  are maintained, resulting in  minimal impact on Australia’s development and humanitarian objectives in Afghanistan.  

Australia will maintain commitments to the United Nations-managed Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan, the World Food Programme and the United Nations Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund. The budget for the United Nations Office for Project Services’ Uruzgan Rural Access Project has been reduced, and will conclude in 2015. Australia continues to deliver 50 per cent of development assistance on-budget through contributions to the World Bank Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF). Australia will explore further engagement in public financial management following the conclusion of Australia’s Public Financial Management Program in December 2015.

As planned, Australian education and infrastructure investments in Uruzgan will conclude in 2015. Uruzgan and other provinces will continue to benefit from Australian contributions to the ARTF, which supports the Afghan Government’s national development programs across all sectors, including health, education, infrastructure, agriculture, rural development and public financial management.

These programming changes will enable Australia to maintain a portfolio of activities in Afghanistan that reflects our areas of expertise, historical engagement and gaps in the coverage of other donors’ activities, while remaining flexible and responsive to shifts in the country’s development needs, opportunities and priorities.