Hindu Kush (Afghanistan, Pakistan)

The Hindu Kush region encompasses the countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan which are connected by the Hindu Kush mountain range. Switzerland’s priorities in both countries are sustainable poverty reduction, good governance, respect for human rights and improvement of living conditions for disadvantaged communities.

Map of the region Hindu Kush (Afghanistan, Pakistan)

The political situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan is unstable and particular attention must be given to security. A weak state, corruption, impunity, large socio-economic disparities, frequent natural disasters as well as ethnic and religious conflict heighten instability and burden the local population on a large scale. An increase in religious radicalisation has also been observed.

Switzerland advocates for good governance, respect for human rights and the improvement of living conditions for disadvantaged communities, particularly in rural areas. The SDC endeavours to contribute to sustainable poverty reduction and to secure a favourable development environment as integral to the poverty reduction strategies of governments and the UN Millenium Development Goals.

The SDC works both through various implementing partners and directly with local communities. Implementing partners are national, regional and local authorities, international organisations such as the UN and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), other donor countries as well as local or international non-governmental organisations.

Rural development

Strengthening Livelihood Resilience

The goal is to strengthen the resilience of the rural population, particularly women, to stress related to natural disasters or conflict. Thus Switzerland focuses its endeavours in the Hindu Kush region on improving water management, economic activities and basic education.

In practice, the SDC aims are as follows:

  • Providing water supplies and sanitation
  • Installing, reconstructing and maintaining micro and small-sized irrigation systems
  • Improving income opportunities through agricultural diversification
  • Higher crop yields and efficient cattle farming; promoting small and medium-sized enterprises
  • Increased elementary schooling and general quality of education

Agriculture and food security

Governance and human rights

Responsible and inclusive governance

The SDC promotes responsible and inclusive governance at the sub-national and local level above all. Availability and access to basic state services and respect for human rights must be ensured.

In practice, the SDC aims are as follows:

  • Strengthening government structures, civil society and local organisations
  • Institutional development at all levels
  • Respect for human rights
  • Reform the justice and security sectors
  • Decentralisation
  • Advancement of women
  • Conflict prevention and transformation

State and Economic Reforms

Humanitarian aid

Assistance for displaced persons in Pakistan

In order to improve the living conditions of refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and the host populations, the SDC provides the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the ICRC with financial support and also assists their endeavours by seconding experts from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA). In contrast to refugees, internally displaced persons have not crossed any state borders after being forced to flee.

Support for the socially disadvantaged population in Afghanistan

The SDC supports the endeavours of the ICRC and UN to integrate and protect internally displaced persons and returning refugees through financial contributions. The provision of food supplies in the event of drought or flooding in the affected areas and measures to reduce natural hazards are also part of Switzerland’s commitment in the region.


Current projects

Object 1 – 12 of 39

Agricultural Services and Livelihood Improvement (ASLI)

01.06.2021 - 31.05.2029

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 (ASLI) 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.

Planned project

FarhangSara - Promotion of Cultural and Artistic Expressions to Strengthen Shared and Diverse Values as well as Peaceful Interactions

01.07.2019 - 30.06.2025

The project aims to strengthen shared and diverse values as well as peaceful interaction among people through cultural and artistic expressions. The project will particularly promote cultural and artistic forms that have been neglected. It will work with female and male artists as well as cultural and art organizations/institutions (public and private). It will promote the active participation of the society at large in cultural activities.

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.


01.07.2017 - 30.06.2020

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.

Pakistan: ADB, National Disaster Risk Management Fund (NDRMF)

01.12.2016 - 30.11.2019

Pakistan faces significant disaster risk and lacks institutional capacity and finance to tackle it. The National Disaster Risk Management Fund will enhance resilience of vulnerable communities, especially in KP and FATA, to natural hazards and will strengthen institutional capacity of authorities to disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness. This will reduce socio-economic vulnerability of the people to natural hazards and ultimately poverty.

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

01.11.2016 - 31.10.2019

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.

Pakistan: UNHCR, Secondment Protection and Solution Officer

01.09.2016 - 31.08.2017

UNHCR Pakistan works with the Government of Pakistan, I/NGOs and donor partners to provide immediate protection and bring long lasting solutions for refugees in Pakistan. Based on international expertise, the SDC Secondment to UNHCR contributes to the enhanced protection of refugees and the search for durable solutions. The Protection Expert will assist the UN Refugee Agency to implement the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR) in Pakistan.

Afghanistan Access to Justice (AA2J)

01.08.2016 - 31.03.2019

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.

FarhangSara: Promotion of Cultural and Artistic Expressions

01.07.2016 - 30.06.2019

Through promotion of active citizen participation, in particular women and youth, in cultural activities, the project aims to strengthen shared and diverse values as well as peaceful interaction among people. It will collaborate with and enhance the capacity of public and private cultural and arts institutions and civil society organizations as well as female and male artists in five regions of Afghanistan.

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.

Sustainable Livelihoods and Social Development Project (SLSD)

01.06.2016 - 31.05.2019

The South East of Afghanistan has largely remained at the margins of the development efforts of the past decade. Widespread poverty, weak institutions and scarce public services characterize the environment. The Sustainable Livelihoods and Social Development Project (SLSD) aims to improve the living conditions of poor rural families through irrigation infrastructures, agriculture techniques and income generation activities and by strengthening basic public service delivery.

Strengthening Human Rights Protection Mechanisms in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

01.06.2016 - 31.05.2018

This project will improve the protection of rights of the people in KP by strengthening the provincial human rights protection mechanisms. This will be achieved by strengthening the capacity of line departments to manage the rights related responsibilities that were devolved from the federal to the provincial government, by developing a human rights policy, and by raising awareness among civil society on the protection responsibilities of the government. 

Object 1 – 12 of 39