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
2014 Natural Earth

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).