Afghanistan

Switzerland's engagement in Afghanistan aims to reduce poverty, human suffering and the loss of life. Switzerland promotes the respect for human rights and the protection of vulnerable population groups. In addition, it contributes to the improvement of rural livelihoods and fosters access to quality basic education.

Map of Afghanistan
2014 Natural Earth

The long period of war has caused enormous human suffering. Institutions have been weakened and economic and social development hampered. Afghanistan is now one of the poorest and most fragile countries on Earth. Nevertheless, significant progress has been made since 2001 in the areas of education, health, rural development, justice and good governance. Further international support for the Afghan reform agenda is vital to maintain the results achieved so far and to ensure that all Afghans benefit equally from this progress.

Switzerland has distinguished itself in Afghanistan through its many years of experience and the high quality of the projects it has implemented there. Switzerland also enjoys a great deal of trust on the part of both the government and the population. The overarching objective of Switzerland's cooperation strategy for the 2019–22 period in Afghanistan is to reduce poverty, human suffering and the loss of life. It seeks to promote a peaceful society with effective, accountable and inclusive institutions based on the rule of law, geared towards meeting the needs of the population. Switzerland's activities focus on three interconnected areas: 1) rule of law and protection 2) agriculture and management of natural resources and 3) basic education.

Rule of law and protection

Switzerland contributes to the promotion and protection of human rights. It supports the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and civil society organisations in this area. Switzerland also helps to strengthen trust between the population and the Afghan government by improving access to legal services for women and men and supporting institutional reforms of the justice system. For example, Switzerland has contributed to the establishment of courts in 16 provinces that specialise in case law relating to violence against women.  Switzerland also contributes to life-saving aid through the country's most important humanitarian organisations. At the political level, Switzerland is committed to the protection and long-term reintegration of internally displaced persons and returnees, as well as to improved access to humanitarian aid for people in need of assistance.

Agriculture and management of natural resources

Switzerland assists smallholder farmers and their families in remote and mountainous areas to increase their productivity and manage their natural resources sustainably. Women are included in the activities to the extent that circumstances allow in what is sometimes a very conservative environment.  Possible impacts of natural hazards and climate change are also taken into account and mitigated through appropriate measures. Switzerland intervenes mainly indirectly, by strengthening the public services provided by the Afghan state for smallholders. Switzerland also supports the World Food Programme, which provides food assistance and promotes asset creation.

Agriculture and food security

Basic education 

Basic education plays a key role in the economic development and social cohesion of the community. Switzerland is committed to increasing access to high-quality basic education for all. To this end, communities are closely involved in the running of their schools. In dialogue with parents, teachers and village communities, the local government implements measures for safe and conducive learning environments. Switzerland is also strengthening the academic supervision system, providing advice and support to schools and teaching staff in order to improve the quality of basic education. Thanks to targeted humanitarian measures, vulnerable and conflict-affected children have access to education in a safe environment.

Basic education and vocational skills development

Approach and partners

Switzerland's development cooperation and humanitarian aid in Afghanistan complement each other. In development cooperation, the focus is on structural challenges, while humanitarian aid is provided in crisis situations. Implementing partners include UN institutions as well as Afghan, Swiss and international NGOs.

Current projects

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Planned project

Afghanistan Urban Peacebuilding Programme

01.05.2018 - 31.03.2024

Afghanistan’s cities grow rapidly. Crime, insecurity and social disintegration are an increasing problem in urban areas. The government is struggling to improve the situation affecting its legitimacy and public trust. The Afghanistan Urban Peacebuilding Programme supports municipalities and community-based structures to tackle insecurity through an inclusive approach. The ambition is twofold: improve urban security and governance.


Afghanistan Urban Peacebuilding Programme (AUPP)

01.05.2018 - 30.04.2021

Afghanistan’s cities grow rapidly, accommodating high numbers of internally displaced and returnees. Crime, insecurity and social disintegration are an increasing problem in urban areas. The government is struggling to improve the situation affecting its legitimacy and public trust. The Afghanistan Urban Peacebuilding Programme supports municipalities and community-based structures to tackle insecurity through an inclusive approach. The ambition is twofold: improve urban security and governance for city dwellers.


Enhance Balanced Education in Afghanistan (BALEDU)

01.03.2018 - 31.10.2020

The project works to improve the quality of teaching in Afghanistan. The rapid increase in enrolment numbers over the past fifteen years has led to a high demand for teachers which is not met. In rural areas, half of primary education teachers are underqualified, resulting in low learning achievements. The project engages Teacher Training Colleges and the competent line ministry to improve teacher’s subject-specific and methodological skills, so that children benefit from better education.


Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF)

01.12.2017 - 31.12.2020

ARTF is a coordinated on-budget financing mechanism for the state, administered by the World Bank. Its priority national investment projects focus on agriculture, rural development, infrastructure, education, health and governance. Since the initiation of the Trust Fund in 2002, Millions of Afghan women, men and children have gained access to services and improved their income. It also significantly contributed to the Afghan state’s capacity.


Rangeland Management project (RAMA)

01.10.2017 - 30.04.2030

The project will improve the livelihoods and food security of rural households by supporting communities to sustainably manage their rangeland resources. Poor and landless families depend on rangeland resources for livestock rearing and fuel and fodder collection. A growing population puts increased pressure on limited resources, while decades of conflict have weakened rangeland management systems. This has resulted in degradation of rangelands, which is exacerbated by the effects of climate change.


Rangeland Management Project (RAMA)

01.10.2017 - 31.05.2022

Poor and landless families depend on rangeland resources for livestock rearing, fuel and fodder collection. A growing population puts increased pressure on limited resources, while decades of conflict and displacement have weakened rangeland management systems. RAMA will improve livelihoods and food security of rural households through empowering the communities to sustainably manage and use their rangeland resources in order to generate equitable benefits.


Skateistan

01.08.2017 - 31.12.2020

Skateistan offers quality educational, sport and recreational opportunities for the empowerment of Afghan children and youth, particularly girls and marginalized groups, with an aim to increase their confidence, abilities and involvement in their communities as well as to strengthen their social networks. It runs across two purpose-built project sites in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.


Skateistan

01.07.2017 - 31.12.2026

Skateistan offers quality educational, sport and recreational opportunities for the empowerment of Afghan children and youth, particularly girls and marginalized groups, with an aim to increase their confidence, abilities and involvement in their communities as well as to strengthen their social networks. It runs across two purpose-built project sites in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.


Agricultural Services and Livelihood Improvement (ASLI)

01.06.2017 - 31.07.2021

Farming households in the Central Highlands of Afghanistan suffer from high levels of poverty and food insecurity. Their agricultural productivity remains low due to insufficient access to inputs and information. The Agricultural Services and Livelihood Improvement project aims to improve the livelihoods of poor rural families by strengthening the public extension system at subnational level to enable targeted, demand-driven agricultural service delivery.


Labour-based Road Construction, Rehabilitation and Maintenance (LBRC)

01.11.2016 - 31.10.2020

The rural poor in Afghanistan suffer from a lack of access to basic services and markets. The labour based road construction project addresses these pressing needs of the people and complements an ongoing Swiss livelihood intervention. Through predictable income, the rehabilitation of vital rural infrastructure and by ensuring access to services and markets, the project contributes to improve the lives of men, women and children in a remote rural area.


Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF)

01.11.2015 - 31.10.2024

Millions of Afghan women, men and children gained access to services and improved their income since the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund’s initiation (ARTF) in 2002. It also significantly contributed to the Afghan state’s capacity and legitimacy. ARTF constitutes a coordinated financing mechanism for the state's budget (Recurrent Cost Window) and for its priority national investment projects (Investment Window) in the areas of agriculture, rural development, infrastructure, education, health and governance.

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