Afghanistan remains a country devastated by more than three decades of conflict. Afghanistan is among the world's 15 least developed countries, ranking 175 out of 187 countries in the United Nations Development Programme's 2012 Human Development Index. Afghanistan’s development is challenged by growing, yet still nascent, human capital and state capacity, weak protection of human rights and problems in the delivery of basic services, such as education and health care.

Canada has had an active development presence in Afghanistan for decades and remains steadfast in its commitment to helping Afghanistan achieve its development goals. Canada's objective for Afghanistan is to meet the basic needs and reduce the vulnerability of the Afghan people, especially women, girls and boys, in partnership with the Government of Afghanistan, Afghan civil society and other donors.

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

  • increase the access to and the quality of education;
  • improve the health and rights of Afghan women and children;
  • protect and promote human rights, especially those of women and girls; and
  • 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.

Prior to 2001, Canada’s assistance was largely humanitarian, ranging between $10 million and $20 million per year. Between 2002 and 2013, Canada disbursed approximately $2.26 billion in aid. See History of Canada’s Engagement in Afghanistan 2001–2014 for historical information.

Find out what Canada is doing to support development in Afghanistan.

Thematic Focus

Afghanistan remains a country of focus for the Government of Canada's international development efforts.

Canada's approach in Afghanistan has a national focus and concentrates on three key areas:

  • investing in the future of Afghan Children and Youth through development programming in education and health;
  • enhancing the rights and empowerment of women and girls; and
  • bridging the gap between short-term humanitarian assistance  and longer-term sustainable development, aimed at linking relief and recovery to development.

Children and youth

Afghanistan has one of the youngest populations in the world. With an average birth rate of more than six children per woman, the population of children and youth continues to grow, and Afghan youth continue to face barriers to education and threats to their health. Afghanistan's future prosperity and stability depend on equipping this young population with the necessary skills and resources to contribute to the country's development, and on ensuring that women, newborns and children have better access to health care.

Key anticipated results

  • Increased access to quality education for girls and boys in Afghanistan.
  • Improved capacity of local, provincial and national institutions to deliver basic education services.
  • Increased access by the population to health services aimed at preventing, managing, and treating illnesses affecting mothers, newborns and children.
  • Increased access to quality health and nutrition services and information for women and children in targeted areas.

Women's and Girls’ Rights and Empowerment

During the last several years, Canada has helped Afghanistan build a framework for the future protection of the rights of Afghans. Canada is now focusing its attention on programs and initiatives that will help implement this framework and that will advance the protection and promotion of human rights, especially those of women.

Key anticipated results

  • Increased participation of women and inclusion of their concerns in the decision-making processes at the national and provincial levels.
  • Enhanced effectiveness of human rights and civil society organizations to promote human rights and investigate and act on human rights violations, especially those against women and girls.

Humanitarian Assistance - Linking Relief and Recovery to Development

As one of its three key areas of focus in Afghanistan, Canada aims to reduce the vulnerability of Afghan women, men, boys and girls to natural and conflict-related disasters.

Key anticipated results

  • Enhanced capacity of Afghan humanitarian actors to plan for and manage natural and conflict-related hazards and disasters, with a focus on the needs and priorities of women and girls.
  • Enhanced ability of vulnerable communities to protect themselves and recover from natural and man-made disasters and hazards, including mines and explosive remnants of war.

Progress on Aid Effectiveness

In the past, shortcomings in donor coordination and alignment, weak country systems and a limited capacity of the Afghan government to exert leadership over its development agenda constrained aid effectiveness in Afghanistan. In July 2012, at the Tokyo Conference, the Afghan government and the international community established the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (TMAF) to measure progress in achieving mutually decided goals. Canada’s development assistance between 2014 and 2017 hinges on the Government of Afghanistan’s progress in implementing key reforms outlined in the TMAF, which includes reforms in the areas of human rights, gender equality, economic growth and measures to combat corruption. Canada actively participates in TMAF discussions as a member of the 5+3 donor group,Footnote 1 which represents the international community in its engagement with the Afghan government as donors collectively work with the government to meet mutual commitments.

In 2010, the Afghan government signaled a considerable increase in ownership of its development agenda. As a result, at the Kabul International Conference 2010, donor countries committed to channeling at least 50 percent of development aid through the government's core budget within two years, ensuring that 80 percent of aid is aligned with national priorities defined by the Afghan government. This commitment was reaffirmed by Canada and the international community at the 2012 Tokyo Conference.

In 2011, Canada and other donor governments endorsed the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States at the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea. As a pilot country, the endorsement of the Government of Afghanistan’s Aid Management Policy through the Joint Coordination Monitoring Board in February 2013 contributed to strengthening working groups that engaged with development partners. In accordance with the policy, Canada played a key role in developing and coordinating donor efforts on the “Partnership Protocol for Health Sector Development in Afghanistan,” which was developed by the Ministry of Public Health and development partners in May 2013.

Canada’s development assistance in support of the Afghan Government’s core budget is provided through the World Bank's Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund. Its steering committee, co-chaired by the World Bank and the Afghanistan Ministry of Finance, includes Canada and other donor nations. Together, collective decisions are made on the trust fund's overall strategic direction. This allows Canada to influence and press for key reforms in areas such as anti-corruption, gender equality and financial governance.


Achievements 2013-2014

Children and Youth, including Health and Rights of Women and Children


  • Contributed to the enrolment of Afghan children in formal and community-based schools from under 1 million children (all boys) in 2001 to 8.4 million in 2014, 39 percent of whom were girls.
  • Contributed to training of 184,042 teachers, 31 percent of whom were women, from only 21,000 teachers in 2001 (few women).
  • Supported the construction of a teacher training college dormitory to facilitate female enrolment and retention, where up to 200 were accommodated since 2011.
  • Established more than 7,200 community-based schools across Afghanistan since 2007, providing basic education to approximately 210,000 students, over 80 percent of whom were girls.


  • Supported the Ministry of Public Health’s establishment of health facilities, which have increased in number from 496 to over 2,000 facilities in the past decade.
  • Contributed to a significant rise in trained female health workers in health care facilities from 25 percent in 2009 to 74 percent in 2013.
  • Supported the training of 9,477 health professionals, including doctors, nurses, midwives and community health workers, contributing to 87 percent of the Afghan population having access to primary health care services within two hours’ walking distance of their homes.
  • Supported the training and health education of more than 119,000 men, women and school children on themes related to water, hygiene, sanitation and nutrition, including exclusive breastfeeding and the feeding of infants and young children.
  • Vaccinated approximately 8 million children (95 percent coverage nationally) in ongoing polio vaccination campaigns that included the provision of vitamin A and deworming tablets.

Human Rights

  • Strengthened the integration of gender equality and women’s rights considerations into the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) development projects, results commitments and performance indicators, as the donor lead to the ARTF Gender Equality Working Group in 2013.
  • Led policy dialogue with prominent Afghan women leaders, national and international organizations, civil society organizations and Afghan ministries on the Elimination of Violence Against Women law resulting increased coordination on implementation of and reporting on the law.
  • Supported the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission’s (AIHRC’s), strong advocacy role on women’s and girls’ rights and the elimination of violence against women, which led to the launch of Afghanistan’s National Inquiry into Honour Killing and Rape in 2013.
  • Supported the AIHRC, which has investigated approximately 28,000 complaints of cases of violence against women over the last decade (2002-2013), and in advance of the 2014 and 2015 elections trained over 24,000 people, 31 percent of whom were women, on human rights including political participation of women and gender justice.
  • In 2014, 43,234 people referred to the AIHRC for guidance, advice, and complaints registration.

Humanitarian Assistance

  • With other donors, supported the distribution of 106,124 tonnes of food through the World Food Programme and partners to more than 3.5million vulnerable Afghans, including families affected by drought, floods and urban poverty. 
  • Contributed to the reduced vulnerability of over 1,648,000 Afghans through the provision of protection and food assistance, and essential health services including physical rehabilitation delivered by the Afghan Red Crescent Society and International Committee of the Red Cross.
  • Supported the provision of 8,322 households with emergency shelter and non-food items, 13,805 families with water, sanitation and hygiene, 1,627 families with nutrition, 4,603 families with health services, 3,307 families with protection, 4,128 households with food security and 196 families with emergency education in 2013. 
  • Provided 2,323 vulnerable households affected by conflict and natural disasters with emergency shelters, 9,042 flood affected families with relief items such as health and hygiene kits, and 3,207 households with winterization packages through CARE Canada.
  • Delivered training in disaster risk reduction and first aid to 128 vulnerable communities through CARE Canada.
  • Supported the elimination of landmines and explosive remnants of war by clearing 82.2 square kilometres, contributing to clearance of over 1,991 square kilometres of minefields across Afghanistan since 2001, improving safety, reducing casualties and significantly increasing socio-economic benefits for 314 communities declared free of mines in 2013.

2014-2015 international assistance disbursements to Afghanistan (in millions of dollars)

Global Affairs Canada188.42
Other departments and sources0.1


Footnote 1

The 5+3 donor group is composed of the European Union, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States (the "5") and Australia, Canada and the Nordics sub-group (the "3"). The Nordics sub-group is composed of Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

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