Development Assistance

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 had an active development presence in Afghanistan for decades and remains steadfast in its commitment to help Afghanistan to achieve its development goals. 

Since 2001, Canada’s and the international community’s efforts to rebuild Afghanistan, which included Canada’s now-concluded military mission, have laid the foundation for Canada’s continued development initiatives in the country. Since 2008, Canada’s support in education, health and human rights—especially for women and girls—has helped Afghans make gains and improve the quality of everyday life.

Canada’s Role

Between 2014 and 2017, building on achievements and in areas where Canada has demonstrated leadership, Canada is focusing its development efforts in key areas to:

  • increase the access to and the quality of education
  • improve the health of Afghan mothers, newborns and children
  • protect and promote human rights, especially those of women and girls
  • build the capacity of Afghan organizations to manage humanitarian assistance responses more effectively

Canada has committed $227 million in development assistance to Afghanistan for this period to support meeting these objectives.

Achieving Results

Building on what has been accomplished so far, in each of these important development areas, specific achievements stand out:


  • More than 7.7 million Afghan children, almost 40 percent of whom are girls, are enrolled in formal and community-based schools, which is a significant increase from the one million boys enrolled in formal schools in 2001
  • More than 6,300 community-based schools across Afghanistan have provided education to approximately 184,000 students, 80 percent of whom are girls
  • Canada, together with the international community, has contributed to establishing more than 13,000 school management committees to involve parents in their children’s learning and provide a voice for community development
  • With support from Canada and other donors, more than 187,000 Afghan teachers have received training and more than 6,000 scholarships have been awarded to women enrolled in teacher training colleges


  • With access to better quality health care, the number of deaths of Afghan infants dropped from 129 in 2006 to 94 per 1,000 births in 2011, as did the number of children dying before age five, from 191 per 1,000 in 2006 to 128 per 1,000 in 2011
  • Ongoing vaccination campaigns have led to more than eight million children being vaccinated against polio, resulting in a significant decrease in the number of confirmed polio cases since 2011 (80 cases in 2011, 37 in 2012, 14 in 2013 and to date three in 2014)
  • More than 9,000 health professionals including doctors, nurses, midwives and community health workers have been trained, which has contributed to 60 percent of the Afghan population having access to primary health care services within two hours’ walking distance of their homes—a massive improvement from nine percent in 2000
  • The decrease in the maternal mortality ratio from 710 in 2005 to 460 per 100,000 live births in 2010 is in part due to the increase in the number of health facilities nationwide, from 496 in 2003 to more than 2,000 today, and mass health promotion campaigns that have reached 18,000 people

Women and Girls’ Rights and Empowerment

  • Women in Afghanistan can vote and they currently account for 27 percent of parliamentarians
  • The Afghan Constitution now in place guarantees equality between men and women
  • Afghanistan is the only Islamic Republic to have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) without reservation in 2003, committing to promote and support all appropriate measures so that women enjoy their full human rights and fundamental freedom
  • The Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) law, which was passed by presidential decree in 2009, criminalizes for the first time child marriage, forced marriage, the selling and buying women and girls, the giving away of women or girls to settle disputes, forced self-immolation, and 17 other acts, including rape and beating
  • Canada’s long-term support to the Afghanistan International Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) contributed to the AIHRC’s ability to investigate approximately 28,000 complaints of cases of violence against women between 2002 and 2013
  • From July to November 2013, the AIHRC trained 24,371 people (7,533 women) on human rights, including women’s political participation and gender justice in advance of the 2014 and 2015 elections

Humanitarian Assistance

  • In response to annual emergency appeals for Afghanistan, Canada helps to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance—including emergency food aid, emergency shelter, non-food assistance, health care, nutrition services and protection services—for millions of vulnerable Afghans affected by conflict and natural disasters
  • Canada’s contribution to the World Food Programme’s efforts in Afghanistan has helped to provide food assistance to 7.5 million people
  • Canadian support is also building the capacity of the Afghan Red Crescent Society to more effectively deliver and manage humanitarian assistance across the country

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