Afghanistan

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
  • ITECO
  • 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

Object 1 – 12 of 24

Planned project

Retain Access in Afghanistan (RAA)

01.01.2023 - 31.12.2030

The security situation in Afghanistan remains a major concern for humanitarian and development actors. To continue their vital work in favour of the poor and vulnerable, they depend on reliable security reports and advisory services, on independent analyses of political events and trends, and on physical access to remote and conflict-affected areas. Through the Retain Access in Afghanistan Programme, the SDC will continue its support to three organisations that provide these essential services under a programmatic approach, strengthening the humanitarian-development nexus.


Agricultural Services and Livelihood Improvement (ASLI)

01.10.2020 - 31.07.2028

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
Planned project

Afghanistan Quality Learning (AQL)

01.03.2019 - 28.02.2029

The project will improve the quality of education in Afghanistan. Though it remains low, access to education has improved significantly over the past decade, but the low quality of education is increasingly recognized as a problem. Working through the competent directorates of the Ministry of Education, the project will strengthen methodology and subject-specific knowledge and promote community involvement for school improvements. Girls and boys will benefit from better learning in a conducive environment.


Afghanistan: IOM Undocumented Afghan Returnees

15.02.2019 - 31.12.2022

In 2016, over a million Afghans who previously sought refuge in Pakistan and Iran returned to Afghanistan. Since the beginning of 2018, 700,056 undocumented Afghans have returned from both countries, due to diverse push factors including deteriorating protection space. The projecting for the year 2019 of undocumented Afghan returnees will be approx. 49,000 from Pakistan and 570,000 from Iran. The vast majority of them have lived outside of Afghanistan for decades, and are in dire need for humanitarian assistance, which they will receive through this project.


Stay, Deliver and Protect (SDP)

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2022

Afghanistan continues to face a protracted humanitarian crisis. Armed conflict results in large-scale population displacements and a high number of civilian casualties. Insecurity causes significant challenges to humanitarian access and responses, especially where they are needed most. "Stay, Deliver and Protect" aims to facilitate humanitarian access and to promote protection of education, protection of civilians, psychosocial support and humanitarian coordination in conflict-affected communities.


Allocation of SDC Funding to ICRC Operations in 2019

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2019

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 ICRC operations allows the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to respond proactively and to provide immediate protection and assistance for people affected by armed conflict and other situations of violence.


Retain Access in Afghanistan (RAA)

01.12.2018 - 31.12.2022

The security situation in Afghanistan remains a major concern for humanitarian and development actors. They depend on reliable security reports and advisory services, on independent analyses of political events and trends, and on physical access to remote and conflict-affected areas. With this project, strengthening the humanitarian-development nexus, the SDC enables interventions that are essential for poor populations and people in need of humanitarian assistance and development aid.  


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.


Afghanistan Urban Peacebuilding Programme (AUPP)

01.05.2018 - 30.04.2021

Afghanistan’s cities grow rapidly, accommodating high numbers of internally displaced and returnees. 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 for city dwellers.


Enhance Balanced Education in Afghanistan (BALEDU)

01.03.2018 - 31.12.2019

The project works to improve the quality of teaching in Afghanistan. The rapid increase in enrolment numbers over the past fifteen years has led to a high demand for teachers which is not met. In rural areas, half of primary education teachers are underqualified, resulting in low learning achievements. The project engages Teacher Training Colleges and the competent line ministry to improve teacher’s subject-specific and methodological skills, so that children benefit from better education.

Object 1 – 12 of 24