In Afghanistan Switzerland supports particularly disadvantaged people and seeks to bolster the country's transformation process, thereby contributing to positive changes in society and towards a sustainable peace process. To this end it strengthens institutions at sub-national level, contributes to good governance and respect for human rights and advocates in particular for women and children. Furthermore, Switzerland promotes inclusive, sustainable socio-economic development.

Map of Afghanistan

Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world. A third of the population lives below the poverty line.  Afghanistan is highly dependent on foreign aid and the inadequate infrastructure and poor security situation negatively affect the country’s economic situation.  Decades of violent conflict and instability have left their mark on Afghanistan’s political system.  However, the 2014 elections showed that the vast majority of people are keen to take part in political processes. For the first time in the country's history, power changed hands democratically.

Switzerland's work in Afghanistan is characterised by many years of in-depth political, social and economic knowledge of the context and enjoys a high level of trust from both the government and the people. In the current 2015–2018 country strategy, Switzerland is therefore maintaining its commitment to support and improve institutions at sub-national level, and to promote good governance, advocacy and respect for human rights. It is also continuing to pursue its objectives to achieve inclusive sustainable socio-economic development.

Switzerland supports projects in the north-east, the central highlands and the south-east of Afghanistan, and is helping to build state institutions with other donors.

Governance and human rights

Human rights, civil society and state-building

Switzerland supports governmental institutions, especially at the sub-national level, and strengthens civil society through project-based contributions to improve local governance. The aim is to provide the population with better access to public services and to increase protection against human rights violations, which fosters socio-economic development as a whole. 

Preventing honour killings and domestic violence

The Afghan Human Rights Commission was able to conduct a national survey on honour killing and sexual violence against women thanks to Swiss support. This project has helped to raise awareness about violence against women amongst the Afghan population. The Human Rights Commission recorded over 5,700 cases of domestic violence in 2013. 

Socio-economic development

Better living conditions for rural communities

Given the widespread poverty, Switzerland is working to promote socio-economic development in Afghanistan. The focus is on better living conditions for marginalised rural households. Managing natural resources, including disaster risk reduction, and improving value chains for rural products of farming families in mountain regions are the main strategies. There is special emphasis on improving basic education for children, especially girls. 

Better harvests with more efficient production techniques

Better seed and new storage facilities have enabled 1,000 farmers to harvest more wheat, vegetables and potatoes. More efficient irrigation systems and the production of compost have also improved yields. In the regions where Switzerland is active, communities enjoy improved livelihoods thanks to sustainable water management.

Humanitarian aid

The SDC contributes to projects of multilateral partners and participates in core funding for programmes. In so doing it is helping to protect refugees, returnees, internally displaced persons and people affected by natural disasters who need emergency relief and humanitarian aid.

Approach and partners

Switzerland uses a coherent and comprehensive approach to work closely with local authorities, other donor countries and international organisations such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), and the World Bank. 

All of Switzerland's programmes integrate the principles of good governance, gender equality and equality for all social and ethnic groups. Because of the high potential for conflict caused by poverty and violence, Switzerland applies a conflict-sensitive approach.

Switzerland's main partners in Afghanistan are:

  • Swiss NGOs: Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation, Terre des Hommes
  • International organisations: German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), Aga Khan Foundation,  International Committee of the Red Cross
  • Ministries
  • Local civil society organisations (together with other European donors)
  • Multilateral organisations: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), World Food Programme (WFP), United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).

Current projects

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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.

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.

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.

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. 

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