Government of Canada

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada


Table of Contents

© Aga Khan Foundation/Sandra Calligaro


Today, Afghanistan remains a country devastated by more than three decades of conflict. It is among the world's 15 least developed countries, with shattered human capital and state capacity, weak protection of human rights, and problems in the delivery of services such as education and health care. On the United Nations Development Programme's 2012 human development index, Afghanistan ranks 175 out of 187 countries.

Canada has been involved in Afghanistan for decades. Before 2002, Canada's assistance was largely humanitarian, ranging between $10 and $20 million per year. In 2002, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the United States and the subsequent defeat of the Taliban regime, Canada responded to Afghanistan's appeal for long-term development investments.

Between 2002 and 2007, Canada committed approximately $100 million in aid annually for basic services, infrastructure, education, rural development, and the support of community development councils.

In 2008, following the recommendations of the Independent Panel on Canada's Future Role in Afghanistan, Canada established six priorities for its engagement in Afghanistan and three signature development projects, while committing to direct up to 50 percent of its aid in Kandahar province. During that period, Canada's international development work focused on supporting basic services, providing humanitarian assistance, and advancing democratic governance.

On November 16, 2010, building on the experience gained during the last 10 years, the Government of Canada identified four key areas of focus to guide its work in Afghanistan until 2014: securing the future of children and youth; security, the rule of law, and human rights; regional diplomacy; and humanitarian assistance.

During this time, Canada's international development projects will focus on education, maternal and child health, human rights, and humanitarian assistance, with an emphasis on improving the lives of women and girls. This renewed engagement builds on Canada's significant experience and investments in Afghanistan to date, supports Afghan-developed priorities, and sustains progress in key areas essential to Afghanistan's future.

Thematic Focus

Canada's approach in Afghanistan post-2011 has a national focus concentrating on four key areas:

  • Investing in the future of Afghan children and youth through the implementation of development programs in education and health
  • Advancing security, the rule of law, and human rights through the provision of trainers for Afghan national security forces
  • Promoting regional diplomacy
  • Helping deliver humanitarian assistance

Canada's international development objective for Afghanistan is to meet the basic needs and reduce the vulnerability of the Afghan people, especially of the women, girls and boys, in partnership with the Government of Afghanistan, Afghan civil society, and other donors.

Children and youth

Afghanistan has one of the youngest populations in the world. With an average birth rate of more than six children per woman, the population of children and youth continues to grow. Yet, the youth of Afghanistan continue to face barriers to education and threats to their health. Afghanistan's future prosperity and stability depends on equipping this young population with the necessary skills and resources to contribute to the country's development and on ensuring that women, newborns, and children have better access to health care.

Key anticipated results

  • Increased availability of education for girls and boys in Afghanistan
  • Improved capacity of local, provincial, and national institutions to deliver basic education services
  • Increased population access to health services aimed at preventing, managing, and treating illnesses affecting mothers, newborns, and children
  • Increased access to quality health and nutrition services and information for women and children in targeted areas

Human rights

During the last several years, Canada has helped Afghanistan build a framework for the future protection of the rights of Afghans. Canada is now focusing its attention on programs and initiatives that will help implement this framework, and that will advance the protection and promotion of human rights, especially those of women.

Key anticipated results

  • Increased participation of women and inclusion of their concerns in the decision-making processes at the national and provincial levels
  • Enhanced effectiveness of human rights and civil society organizations to promote human rights and investigate and act on human rights violations, especially those against women and girls

Humanitarian assistance

Canada is, as one of its four key areas of focus in Afghanistan, saving lives, alleviating suffering, and maintaining human dignity in the aftermath of man-made crises and natural disasters and is strengthening the preparedness of the Afghan people to respond to these situations.

Key anticipated results

  • Enhanced responsiveness of humanitarian assistance provided by international aid agencies and Afghans themselves to address the basic human needs of crisis-affected populations
  • Improved resilience of crisis-affected vulnerable populations, with a focus on women and girls
  • Enhanced performance of national and provincial organizations in disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness

Progress on Aid Effectiveness

Shortcomings in donor coordination and alignment, weak country systems, and a limited capacity for Afghan leadership over its development agenda have constrained aid effectiveness in Afghanistan. In 2010, however, the Afghanistan government signalled a considerable increase in ownership of its development agenda. As a result, donor countries have committed to channelling 50 percent of development aid through the government's core budget within two years, ensuring that 80 percent of aid is aligned with national priorities defined by the Afghan government.

Canada provides a portion of its development assistance through the World Bank's Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund. Its steering committee, made up of Canada, other donor nations, and the Afghanistan Ministry of Finance, makes decisions on the trust fund's overall strategic direction. This allows Canada to influence and press for key reforms in areas such as anti-corruption, gender equality, and financial governance.

Canada is also actively engaged with the Government of Afghanistan's Joint Coordination Monitoring Board, a high-level decision-making body focused on resolving strategic problems identified by the Afghan government or international partners, and has participated in international conferences to strengthen donor coordination and refresh mutual commitments to the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (PDF, 3.92 MB, 320 pages).

Achievements 2011-2012

Children and youth, including Maternal, Newborn and Child Health

  • Helped 1,638 schools complete school courses with 47,062 students graduating, 85 percent of whom are girls
  • Built or rehabilitated 13 schools, trained 1,700 teachers and expanded the Kandahar Teacher Training College in 2011
  • Helped 95 percent of girls progress from grades 6 to 7 (up from 71 percent in 2008) and 96 percent from grades 9 to 10 (up from 48 percent in 2008) in the provinces of Badakhshan, Baghlan and Bamyan, leading to more educated female Afghan youth
  • Supported the work of the United Nations Children's Fund to get more girls into schools in 55 districts with the lowest education indicators
  • Increased primary school enrollment by 10 percent, to over 2 million between 2009 and 2011
  • Helped provide anti-polio vaccine to 7.8 million children in 2011, including 386,690 in Kandahar Province (93 percent coverage). This allowed 85 percent of the Afghan population to live in polio-free zones
  • In 2011, Canadian support to United Nations efforts improved the identification and treatment of tuberculosis cases by 100 percent in six provinces of Afghanistan Stimulating Sustainable Economic Growth
  • Supported Afghan small and medium-sized enterprises to secure 216 contracts that created or sustained an estimated 20,000 jobs and injected over $325 million into the national economy in 2011

Increasing Food security

  • Supported training and veterinary services for 25,040 farmers in Northern Afghanistan (18,866 male / 6174 female)
  • Under the Arghandab Irrigation Rehabilitation (Dahla Dam) project, completed the repair and rehabilitation of 493 km of canals, which helped to irrigate 30,000 hectares of land and created 5,000 construction jobs. This led to a 75 percent increase in land yielding more than one crop per year in a key district in Kandahar Province. This information is verified using satellite imagery provided through a partnership with the Canadian Space Agency, the Government of Canada and MDA Systems
  • Through support to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, provided seeds to fast-start agricultural recovery and kept over 650,000 samples of crop, forage and agro-forestry genetic resources in the public domain
  • Helped Afghan private factories provide 250 tonnes of locally-produced high-energy biscuits which were used to feed thousands of children under the World Food Programme's school feeding program

Humanitarian Assistance

  • With other donors, provided 22,600 metric tons of food to more than a million drought victims in 10 provinces in early 2012 alone, and emergency health services to almost 2.5 million people

National Institutions and Democratic Development

  • With other donors, funded 47,458 small-scale development projects in 26,730 rural communities under the National Solidarity Program, which allows those communities to have a voice in their own development and governance

Achievements 2010-2011

Children and youth

  • Helped establish more than 4,000 community-based schools throughout the country
  • Provided basic education to more than 125,000 students, of whom approximately 80 percent are girls, in rural and insecure areas, particularly in the province of Kandahar
  • Helped improve access to quality, formal, and basic education by building or rehabilitating more than 800 schools and training more than 110,000 teachers and principals across the country
  • Engaged parents in their children's learning by establishing more than 10,000 school management committees that provide a voice for community development and a mechanism to hold the Afghan government accountable for service delivery
  • Trained more than 2,000 health workers, including doctors, nurses, midwives, and community health workers, to improve the quality and accessibility of the Afghan health care system
  • Continued to vaccinate more than 7.8 million children against polio during national immunization campaigns, with at least 84 percent of Afghanistan now polio-free

Humanitarian assistance

  • Provided food assistance to more than 6.5 million beneficiaries, of whom 47 percent were women
  • Helped the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority and the Provincial Disaster Management Committee develop comprehensive strategies and coordination mechanisms for responding to disasters through the Strengthening Natural Disaster Management Capacity in Kandahar project
  • Supported the survey and clearance of mines and explosive remnants of war, with 772 square kilometres of land released and made available for communities across Afghanistan
  • Helped provide mine awareness education for more than 650,000 Kandaharis

Economic growth

  • Helped establish businesses in the province of Kandahar, with 1,300 new enterprises registered in key districts since July 2008
  • Created 5,000 construction jobs by restoring the reservoir behind the Dahla Dam and the Arghandab Irrigation Rehabilitation system
  • Helped double the water flowing though Afghanistan's arid Kandahar province, resulting in the first saffron crop and the best pomegranate yield in decades