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 of Afghan mothers, newborns 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 on Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan.

Thematic Focus

In 2014, Afghanistan was confirmed as 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 availability of 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 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 human-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 work collectively with the government to meet mutual commitments.

In 2010, the Afghan government signalled 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.

Canada provides a portion of its development assistance 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 2012-2013

Children and Youth, including Maternal, Newborn and Child Health


  • Contributed to the enrolment of Afghan children in formal schools from under 1 million children (all boys) in 2001 to 7.4 million in 2011, 38 percent of whom were girls. In 2012, the Ministry of Education reported an increase of 300,000 students.
  • Supported community-based education by establishing 749 classes benefiting 18,668 students, 62 percent of whom were girls.
  • Established 4,621 community-based schools providing basic education to 144,329 students, 84 percent of whom were girls.
  • Supported over 219,170 students in remote areas in receiving schooling through community-based education.
  • Trained 100,000 teachers, with a focus on pedagogy, and more than 86,000 teachers on subject matter curriculum. Also trained 7,060 school managers and principals, and 75 percent of teachers in Kandahar province in 2012 (2,800 of 3,712 teachers). 
  • Supported the Ministry of Education’s efforts to improve education infrastructure through close to 1,350 projects focused on such aspects as building walls, and establishing libraries or classrooms. In 2012, more than 190 education infrastructure projects were completed.
  • Increased the enrolment and retention of female students at the Canada-funded teacher training college in Kandahar by 108 students, due to increased female accommodations.


  • Supported the Ministry of Public Health’s establishment of health facilities, which have increased in number from 496 to more than 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 2012.
  • Supported the training of more than 9,000 health professionals, including doctors, nurses, midwives and community health workers, contributing to 60 percent of the Afghan population having access to primary health care services within two hours’ walking distance of their homes.
  • Supported access to priority pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for more than 70,300 people, 76 percent of whom were women and children.
  • Vaccinated approximately 7.8 million children (95 percent coverage nationally) in ongoing polio vaccination campaigns that included the provision of vitamin A and deworming tablets.

Human Rights

  • Supported the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund’s launch of a Gender Equality Working Group in 2012 to ensure improved integration of, and reporting on, gender equality issues.
  • Supported policy dialogue with prominent Afghan women leaders on the Elimination of Violence Against Women legislation in July 2012 through round tables at the Tokyo International Conference on Afghanistan, and throughout the year in Kabul.
  • Enabled the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission to hold human rights-focused sessions with 235 advocacy committees supporting the sensitization of citizens and officials at the community and provincial levels on human rights, and 354 human rights training workshops and seminars in which 11,486 people participated (3,542 women and 7,944 men).

Humanitarian Assistance

  • With other donors, supported the distribution of 69,405 tonnes of food through the World Food Programme to more than 2.4 million drought-affected communities in Northern and Central Afghanistan. 
  • Assisted 61,348 drought-affected individuals (8,764 households) in Faryab and Badakhshan provinces through Canada’s support to Oxfam, contributing to reduced vulnerability to food crises among drought-affected communities.
  • Provided assistance to people affected by acute malnutrition through a combination of general food distribution, including nutrient-rich food supplements to prevent a decline in the nutritional status of children between the ages of 6 and 59 months, food-for-work activities and vouchers.
  • Delivered information and training on health and sanitation, agriculture and livestock to 1,353 women from vulnerable households through a cash for training initiative. Income generated through women's participation benefited 9,471 household members.
  • Supported cash for training initiatives, such as the cleaning of water reservoirs and drainage ditches, which led to the rehabilitation of agricultural infrastructure, roads, water ponds and water springs in drought-affected areas.
  • Supported the elimination of landmines and explosive remnants of war by clearing more than 21,127 hazard areas—or 1,830 square kilometres—across Afghanistan, improving safety, reducing casualties and significantly increasing socio-economic benefits for communities.

International Development Projects in Afghanistan

Map of projects in Afghanistan
Project Browser - Afghanistan

2012-2013 CIDA Disbursements in Afghanistan

CIDA Disbursements in Afghanistan
CIDA Disbursements$M
Long-Term Development Assistance93.74
Humanitarian Assistance13.65

National Day of Honour - photo exhibit


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.

Return to footnote 1 referrer