Overview of Australia’s aid program to Afghanistan

How we are helping

2013/14 Actual:
$148.4 million

2014/15 Budget Estimate:
$134.2 million

Australia continues to contribute to Afghanistan’s development, supporting the gains of the last decade. Afghanistan faces substantial challenges particularly as it undergoes three transitions: assuming responsibility for security by the end of 2014; undertaking presidential elections as the first peaceful change of executive power in Afghanistan's modern history; and responding to slowing economic growth as international forces draw down in Afghanistan.

Australia’s development assistance programme to Afghanistan is part of an integrated whole-of-government effort with security, diplomatic, and development objectives. The Development Framework Agreement 2012–17, signed by Australia and Afghanistan in July 2012, underlines both parties’ commitment to building the Afghan Government’s capacity to deliver basic services and provide economic opportunities to its people. The Afghan Government has agreed to make progress against commitments under the 2012 Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework, including economic reform, governance, anti-corruption, elections, and human rights, including the rights of women and girls.

Afghanistan remains one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world, ranking 175th out of 187 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index. Poor governance, low institutional capacity, and corruption constrain Afghanistan’s development, limit options for effective aid delivery, and undermine Afghan and international confidence. Insecurity and instability are widespread and have the potential to halt and reverse development gains. Furthermore, Afghanistan is home to one of the most protracted, complex and severe humanitarian emergencies in the world, with almost a third of Afghans not regularly having enough food to eat, more than four million being displaced at any one time, and about a quarter of a million likely to suffer a natural disaster each year.

The situation for Afghan women and girls is particularly precarious. Gender inequality in Afghanistan is profoundly entrenched, with the country ranking almost at the bottom of the United Nations Development Program’s Gender Inequality Index. Gender-based violence is endemic, girls attend school for less than half the number of years of Afghan boys, and despite improvements in recent years, the maternal death rate, estimated at 1,400 per 100,000 births, is one of the highest in the world.

On current trends, largely due to the critically low base from which it is developing, Afghanistan is on track to achieve, or partially achieve, some of its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). UNDP assesses that Afghanistan is on track to realise universal education (MDG 2) and a 50 per cent reduction in maternal mortality ratio (MDG 5) by 2020. It is unlikely that the proportion of people affected by hunger and poverty will significantly decrease (MDG 1), or that the position of Afghan women will improve markedly (MDG 3).

In 2014-2015, Australia will support the Afghan Government deliver its national priority programmes, including in health, education, rural development and infrastructure, by contributing to the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund. Australia’s development assistance has four key strategic objectives:

Enhancing basic service delivery in health and education

Australia will enhance education in Afghanistan by expanding access to schools, improving education quality, and increasing the Afghan Government’s capacity to deliver education services.

Education assistance in Afghanistan

Supporting rural development and livelihoods

Australia will improve agricultural productivity by introducing more resilient varieties of wheat, provide job opportunities, and expand access to markets for Afghan families by helping them start locally-relevant, small-scale businesses.

Agriculture assistance in Afghanistan

Improving governance and the effectiveness of the Afghan Government

Australia will support the Afghan Government to become more effective by improving economic and structural reforms and public financial management, and support national efforts to protect and promote human rights, particularly the rights of Afghan women and girls.

Governance and human rights assistance in Afghanistan

Supporting vulnerable populations

Australia will respond to humanitarian needs as required. We will focus assistance on providing food for up to 1.9 million vulnerable Afghans, and by removing mines and explosive remnants of war.

Humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan

Our results

National level results to 2013 (by pooling funds with other donors through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund)

  • increased access to basic health care services to around 85 per cent of the population
  • increased school enrolments from around one million in 2001 to more than eight million today, including over three million girls
  • improved maternal health care, with at least 74 per cent of pregnant women now receiving at least one antenatal health care visit
  • rehabilitated and maintained over 12,800 kilometres of rural roads providing over 15 million labour days of employment

Enhancing basic service delivery in health and education

  • funded health services to more than two million people beyond the reach of Afghanistan’s national health care through the Australian Red Cross
  • vaccinated more than 596,000 children against polio and more than 198,000 children against diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus
  • provided education to 8929 children, including 3150 girls, through Empowerment Through Education and the Children of Uruzgan Program

Supporting rural development and livelihoods

  • provided food assistance to almost six million men, women and children in 2012, and over 28 million beneficiaries since 2009, through the World Food Programme
  • supporting the Government of Afghanistan to develop a Dryland Farming Strategy, which will guide future investments in agriculture
  • providing 2,000 farmers with access to improved agricultural training and technologies
  • rehabilitated and maintained of over 12,800 kilometres of rural roads

Improving governance and the effectiveness of the Afghan Government

  • trained 500 public servants, which helped increase budget execution rates in Afghan Government service delivery ministries (51 per cent in 2012, to 57 per cent in 2013)
  • contributed to a 30.8 per cent improvement in public expenditure and financial accountability (PEFA) budget cycle indicators for line ministries between 2008 and 2013. This has seen improvements in the credibility, comprehensiveness, transparency, and external scrutiny of the budget, as well as predictably and control of budget execution
  • trained more than 600 journalists to report on elections, enabling impartial and educational news content to reach remote communities across the country for the 2014 presidential elections
  • through Australia’s support Australia’s partnership with the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, protect and promote human rights including the launch of the first national inquiry into honour killing and rape, bringing to light issues that had long been taboo in Afghanistan
  • provided services to 1397 women and girl survivors of violence
  • trained 3586 men and women on women’s rights and EVAW law

Supporting vulnerable populations

  • supported more than 170,000 people across all 34 provinces with food assistance including 78,000 women and girls
  • cleared more than 700 mines and 7,000 explosive remnants of war from 3.3 million square metres of hazardous land in Afghanistan, benefitting more than 61,000 Afghans
  • provided more than 4,000 Afghans with prosthetic, orthotic, physiotherapy and health education services and taught more than 200,000 people how to identify, avoid, and mitigate the impacts of mines and explosive remnants of war on their lives
Women together in a room, smiling
Australian volunteer Tanya McQueen worked as a Rural Women's Programme Adviser in Afghanistan (credit: DFAT).
Men teaching in a classroom of adults
Education in Oruzgan province, Afghanistan (credit: Jacob Simpson MACCA).