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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Afghanistan Access to Justice (AA2J)

01.08.2016 - 30.06.2019

Afghans, in particular marginalized groups such as women, children, prisoners and detainees are vulnerable as to the protection of their rights and access to justice. This UNDP implemented project will strengthen the justice institutions to better fulfil their constitutional and human rights obligation. It will thus contribute to the provision of fair access to justice as well as to vulnerable people’s ability to seek and obtain an effective legal remedy.

Green Initiative for Afghanistan’s Agriculture (GIAA)

01.07.2016 - 30.06.2020

Land and water resources in Afghanistan are overexploited and deteriorating fast with severe consequences for rural households. The Green Initiative for Afghanistan’s Agriculture will upscale the professional and institutional capacity for sustainable land and water management to prevent further degradation, improve production and reduce disaster risks, especially in mountainous areas. It will contribute to improved food security and better livelihoods for poor rural families.

Livelihood Improvement Programme Takhar (LIPT) – Bridging Phase

01.04.2016 - 31.12.2017

Widespread poverty and malnutrition, weak institutions and scarce public services characterize the environment in the mountainous areas of North-Eastern Afghanistan. The Livelihood Improvement Programme Takhar (LIPT) is improving the living conditions of the rural population in Rustaq district through income generating activities and the promotion of sustainable natural resource management techniques. This last phase will allow a significant upscaling of the successful initiatives of LIPT.

Improving Livelihoods of Rural Communities (ILRC) – Bridging Phase

01.04.2016 - 31.12.2016

The people living in the rural areas of the Central Highlands are particularly vulnerable to recurrent natural hazards. Widespread poverty, weak institutions and scarce public services characterize the region. The ILRC project strives to improve the living conditions of poor families in remote rural communities through sustainable water and land management, economic development and strengthening of local governance institutions. This final phase will capitalize on experiences and focus on the sustainability of interventions.

Civil Society and Human Rights Organization (CSHRO) (previous Civil Society and Human Rights Network - CSHRN)

01.04.2016 - 15.07.2018

Despite significant achievements, Afghan men, women and children continue facing important human rights violations in their daily life. As an umbrella organization, the Civil Society Human Rights Organization (CSHRO) coordinates 160 human rights organizations working for human rights advocacy as well as for improved government`s accountability to the needs of the Afghan people.

International NGO Safety Organisation - Afghanistan (INSO)

01.01.2016 - 31.12.2018

The security situation in Afghanistan is becoming increasingly difficult. International NGO Safety Organisation provides Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) with the necessary advice and services to maintain their operations and reach the vulnerable population. SDC and Swiss partners rely on INSO services to be able to stay engaged in Afghanistan. SDC’s support allows strengthening an independent and professional organization working for risk mitigation for NGOs in a fragile context.

Allocation (Cash Contributions) of SDC Funding to WFP Operations in 2016

01.01.2016 - 31.12.2016

In line with the Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) principles, Switzerland recognizes the necessity of predictable and flexible funding to respond to changing needs in humanitarian crises. SDC funding to WFP operations allows the World Food Programme (WFP) to respond proactively and to provide immediate food assistance in life-threatening situations.

Afghanistan Subnational Governance Programme (ASGP)

01.12.2015 - 31.12.2018

The overall aim is that Afghan women and men, boys and girls access more accountable, transparent and inclusive subnational services. The project strengthens Afghanistan’s provincial and municipal institutions to improve the quality of local governance. Subnational institutions will plan and report in a more consultative and accountable manner. Civil society stakeholders engage more effectively with local institutions and processes.

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.

Contribution to Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan (LOTFA)

01.11.2015 - 30.06.2018

For the benefit of Afghan women, men and children as well as of the rule of law in Afghanistan, the Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan (LOTFA) contributes to a more human rights compliant, institutionally strengthened and more gender balanced Afghan National Police. Amongst other, it supports community policing as well as the recruitment, retention and training of policewomen and the improvement of their working conditions.

Sustainable Land Management Project (SLMP)

01.07.2015 - 30.09.2016

The rural population in Afghanistan suffers from overexploited and rapidly deteriorating land and water resources. Policies for sustainable land management are only slowly emerging. There is an urgent and sustained need for professional and institutional capacity for sustainable land management to prevent further degradation, improve production and reduce disaster risks. This reduces vulnerability and contributes to improved food security and better livelihoods for poor rural families.

National Human Rights Programme for Afghanistan (Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission)

08.06.2015 - 31.12.2018

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) has a constitutional mandate to promote and protect human rights of women, men, girls and boys living in Afghanistan. Towards that end, the AIHRC lobbies and works with the Afghan government. It contributes to significantly enhance human rights awareness of Afghan people. Switzerland, together with a number of other development partners, supports the AIHRC financially, technically and when required politically.

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