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European Commission


Brussels, 28 January 2013

Afghanistan – EU cooperation

The European Union is one of the major donors providing development and humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. In fact, immediately after the establishment of the Interim Transitional authority, the EU set up a Delegation in Kabul in February 2002.

Between 2002 and end 2012 the EU committed some €2.5 billion assistance to Afghanistan, including €382 million in humanitarian assistance. By end 2011, the EU had disbursed more than €2 billion, i.e. 85% of the committed funds. In addition, in 2012, the EU has committed €190 million of which € 125 million will be dedicated to the health sector, €60 million to agriculture (including water management) and €5 million will provide support for vulnerable women.

For the period covering 2011-13 around €200 million are allocated every year by the European Union for development programmes in Afghanistan. These focus on three key sectors: governance - including police - agriculture and rural development, and health and social protection.

In 2012, major international conferences provided the opportunity to reiterate our commitment to Afghanistan’s peaceful transition and inclusive sustainable development: in Chicago (May), the NATO summit acknowledged the importance of security to sustainable development; in Tokyo (July), Afghanistan’s development partners have committed to support Afghanistan's transition and its "transformation decade" based on a partnership and mutual accountability; in Kabul, the “Heart of Asia” Ministerial conference (July) addressed regional cooperation as an important element for shifting the political focus away from conflict, towards encouraging trade and transit.

The EU also has a Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) mission - EUPOL AFGHANISTAN- whose mission is to help the Afghans to develop their civilian policing skills by providing specialised training and advice.


Afghanistan's health indicators are among the most worrying in the world. Afghanistan has taken a devastating toll during three decades of war, with human and socio-economic indicators hovering near the bottom of international indices. However, the health sector has shown considerable progress in the last decade. Access to primary health care services has increased to around 65% of the population. Such progress is largely due to the implementation of a Government-led Basic Package of Health Services (BPHS) and an Essential Package of Hospital Services (EPHS) implemented by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and funded by USAID, the World Bank and the EU. Since 2001, the EU has committed a total of € 341million1 in support of the health sector (including health policy & administration management, infectious disease control and basic health care). By funding the delivery of the Basic Package for Health and the Essential Hospital services, the EU has been supporting the provision of basic health care services to more than 5 million Afghans in 10 provinces2, these include some of the most insecure and underserved areas of the country.

In 2013 the EU and the World Bank will jointly support the Government’s Health Strategy and plans through System Enhancement for Health Action in Transition (SEHAT). Under the leadership of the Ministry of Public Health, the EU will help to reduce aid fragmentation and improve harmonisation through increased donor coordination. The programme will ensure health care service delivery in 21 provinces3 and possibly in Kabul city (which include almost 50% of the Afghan population).

Cross cutting issues addressed by the EU support for Health

Reducing aid fragmentation and increasing the Ministry's responsibility for supervision and financial management should have a positive impact on sector governance. The strong focus of the BPHS on vulnerable populations emphasises the right to health, child protection and women's empowerment. In particular it will include actions addressing reproductive health needs and maternal and child mortality, professional training of female health staff, which will contribute to gender mainstreaming.

Support to the development of mental health services is a key sub-sector of current EU support. Improving mental health care in Afghanistan should not only benefit a large number of directly affected people and their families and contribute to peace building and security. The EU supports Mental Health capacity development and the functioning of the Kabul Mental Health Hospital.

Agriculture and Water Management

Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries in the world. About 80% of the population depends on agriculture and associated livelihoods. Seasonal and chronic unemployment are common and increasing. The result is a high degree of food insecurity, a socio-economic environment that is conductive to instability, illicit economy, and extreme poverty. The Afghan Agriculture and Rural Development strategy focuses on the development of prosperous rural and pastoral communities.

NGOs have played a significant role in providing services and inputs (e.g. seeds and fertilizers) to farmers during the last three decades. Through their respective areas of activities, NGOs have developed an in-depth understanding of the social fabric and socio-economic aspects of the Afghan communities. The National Priority Programmes (NPPs), developed in the wake of the Kabul Conference, are significantly changing the political and economic development environment, putting the Government in a leadership position with regard to development strategies and the proportionate allocation of donor funds to specific sub-sectors.

The NPP on Comprehensive Agriculture Production and Market Development will guide the provision of agricultural inputs and services to the public and private sector, while officially engaging NGOs into the agricultural development mechanisms designed by the Government of Afghanistan.

The EU support portfolio is structured in two sub-sectors: agriculture and local development. Agriculture is divided into three components, namely (i) water and natural resources management, (ii) animal health and (iii) seed and horticulture; whereas local development includes a research component addressing the needs of rural communities and effective development policies.

Cross cutting issues addressed by the EU Support for Agriculture

Environmental sustainability: promotion of good agricultural practices and focus on assisting communities to manage their natural resources based on sustainable practices should impact on reduction of erosion and mitigation of climate change effects.

Counter-narcotics: the programme will reinforce Government's counter-narcotics efforts by promoting alternative, high value, legal agricultural activities which will reinforce livelihoods available to rural communities; equitable irrigation water allocation is considered an efficient instrument to encourage the production of non-illicit, high value, perennial horticulture crops.

Gender: culturally sensitive approach to gender equality will be promoted by enhancing women's economic opportunities and access to and control over productive assets and income, while at the same time fostering their participation in community governance structures.

Examples of how the EU is making a difference in Afghanistan

Improved health services: 65% of the population have access to primary healthcare (up from 9% in 2002) and basic services are now provided to over five million Afghans in ten different provinces.

In 2010 only, nearly 100,000 deliveries were attended and babies vaccinated, resulting in a significant decrease in deaths of infants and children under 5.

Social protection and inclusion of extremely vulnerable children: Between 2006 and 2008 more than 9,000 children benefited from non-formal education, vocational training, recreational activities, sports, health and hygiene education. Social protection programmes helped 1,500 children to enter public schools.

Through the creation of local expertise, by means of specialised training and creation of local skills disability services are now offered across the country.

Water resource management has been improved through the development of a legal framework and specialised training to communities and authorities; resulting in the protection of 40% of Afghan water resources. The Khanabad Irrigation Scheme has been recently rehabilitated and the Khanabad river's main barrage and its secondary canals have been modernised. As a result, irrigation is provided for 35,000 ha serving an agricultural population of 50,000 people. The risks of damage caused by unregulated flows are now also reduced.

Stronger rural communities: 390 district Development Assemblies have been set-up in 2011, enabling community representation at a higher administrative level, and a wider participation of communities in the design and implementation of development programs.

2,317 Saving Groups (54% female) and 85 Enterprise Groups (45% female) have been created, contributing to an increase in savings, inter-loaning, and development of micro rural enterprises recording very low default rates.

Strengthened horticulture and seeds industry: Tree nurseries and orchards benefited from support to farmers and to about 1,000 nursery growers in 58 districts of 21 provinces.

6 EU-funded Perennial Horticulture Development Centres (PHDCs) recognised horticulture hubs in the country were created. They maintain the National Collection of fruit varieties (about 850 clones of 15 fruit species).

As part of the Commission-funded Animal Health Development Programme carried out in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, a Central Veterinary Diagnostic & Research Laboratory (CVDRL) has been established and is now at work.

Its aim is to improve agricultural production in quantity and quality by carrying out effective animal disease surveillance across the country.

1 :

including €125 million from 2012 commitments

2 :

Daikundi, Ghor, Kunar, Kunduz, Laghman, Logar, Nangarhar, Nuristan, Uruzgan and Zabul

3 :

Sar-i-pul, Balkh, Samangan, Parwan, Panjshir, Kapisa, Wardak, Helmand, Farah, Nimroz, Badghis, Daikundi, Ghor, Kunar, Kunduz, Laghman, Logar, Nangarhar, Nuristan, Uruzgan and Zabul

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