Aid to Afghanistan

Aid to Afghanistan

Australia has a bilateral aid programme to Afghanistan, aiming at providing $150 million in the five years from 2006. A number of non-government Australian agencies provide aid to Afghanistan.

Government sources

Joint approach to stabilise and rebuild Afghanistan, Media Release, Department of Defence, 2 March 2010

Kate Elliott, a Development Advisor with AusAID, says ADF assistance is essential:  “While there are an increasing number of non-government agencies operating in Oruzgan, it’s still very hard to go out and monitor projects effectively.”

“We rely on the Australian Defence Force to provide protection and also the experience of the engineers to undertake site inspections to make sure that Australia’s aid is being spent effectively,” Ms Elliott said.

Australia to watch direction of Afghan donation, Emma Alberici, 29 January 2010

ELEANOR HALL: The Foreign Minister Stephen Smith says Australia will keep a close eye on the $25 million it’s pledged to the Afghan Government to help in disarming the Taliban. More than $150 million was pledged but Australia along with other nations has demanded oversight of the fund to ensure that it’s not mismanaged.

STEPHEN SMITH: I’ve indicated $50 million for the Afghan Reconstruction Fund, for the building of infrastructure and the like done through the World Bank; and $25 million for the new Peace and Reintegration Fund because…

Our continued support of Afghanistan is vital to combating the Taliban, Julie Bishop, the Party Room Journal, Issue 7 Summer 2009, 7 January 2010

Australia’s Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force (MRTF) is supporting local capacity building through major infrastructure projects, including security, health, education and other essential infrastructure. The Trade Training School run by the MRTF is an outstanding example of supporting local communities. The four week courses are recognised by the Afghan Government and provide opportunities for skill development and employment amongst local people, particularly young men of “fighting” age.

Joint Press Statement on the occassion of the visit of the Prime Minister of Australia, The Hon. Kevin Rudd to Germany and his meeting with the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dr. Angela Merkel, PM’s Office (Australia), 7 July 2009

They agreed to extend, in consultation with the Government of Afghanistan, the areas where Australia and Germany work together to achieve effective development. In the immediate term, Australia and Germany agreed to work together to assist in strengthening civil air traffic control in Afghanistan.

Annual Review of Development Effectiveness 2008 [PDF], AusAID: Office of Development Effectiveness (ODE), 2009

Since 2001–02, funding to Africa and South Asia has remained relatively static, with the
slight decline in funding to South Asia due to the fact that Pakistan and Afghanistan were
moved to the Middle East and Central Asia regional grouping over 2007-08 and 2008-09.

With more than 30 bilateral donors operating in Afghanistan, the Afghanistan
Reconstruction Trust Fund was established in 2002 to coordinate funding for reconstruction
in line with the Government of Afghanistan’s national objectives. The fund is managed
by a committee of multilateral organisations—which includes the World Bank, the Asian
Development Bank and the Islamic Development Bank—that liaises with the government
to agree annual investment priorities based on the national budget. AusAID has contributed
A$66 million to the fund since 2003.

A recent external review concluded that the fund was operating effectively, minimising
transaction costs for the government and contributing to improvements in public financial
management systems. The programs supported by the fund had achieved important results
in community development, rural infrastructure and education. For example, more than
440 000 Afghans (64 per cent of whom are females) have accessed microfinance services
in 24 provinces, and the school enrolment of children in grades 1-12 has increased from
3.1 million to just over 5 million.

Australia Pledges $250 Million in Further Assistance for Afghanistan, Stephen Smith, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Media Release, 12 June 2008

“I am pleased to announce that Australia will pledge $250 million to assist Afghanistan provide better health and education services, secure food supplies in the face of rising world prices, support its police force and expand mine action programs.”

Afghanistan: Approach to Humanitarian and Development Assistance 2007-2010, AusAid 2007

Brief official account of Australia’s humantiarian and development approach in Afghanistan.

Country Program: Afghanistan, AusAid

Detailed official account of Australian current aid to Afghanistan.

Aid activities in Afghanistan, AusAid

Brief list of AusAid supported Australian NGO aid activities in Afghanistan.

London Conference

Australia was a participating country in the London Conference on Afghanistan in February 2006 which adopted the Afghanistan Compact between the Government of Afghanistan, the United Nations and the international community to produce a framework for co-operation for the next five years.


Damned by the poverty trap, Rowan Callick, The Australian, 20 February 2010

That’s the message from this week’s story that aid workers contracted by AusAID in the Pacific are earning considerably more than the Prime Minister, tax free, too. AusAID could funnel more money through non-government organisations. But while they have good intentions, sometimes grassroots connections, and can deliver programs more cheaply than government agencies, especially in disasters, they are unable to run the big-picture projects required to meet political expectations in Australia and in the developing country.

And some have their own accountability issues. The language associated with this industryhas become impenetrable. This helps create a veneer of technical expertise that generates a handy distance from accountability, or reality.

The government has set a target of doubling our aid to 0.5 per cent of gross national income, about $8bn, in five years. This will make the government look good in terms of meeting UN Millennium Development Goals and thus reinforcing our claim to a UN Security Council seat. But it is impossible for AusAID to deploy this money in ways that will improve living standards or create jobs.

Linking despair to infrastructure, Sarah Anderson, The Ottawa Citizen, 16 December 2009

Peace Dividend Trust, which works in East Timor, Haiti and Afghanistan, was founded in 2004 by Ottawan Scott Gilmore… To make it easier to invest locally in Afghanistan, PDT has created a database of over 4,400 Afghan businesses. So far, this tool — funded by several aid agencies including the Canadian International Development Agency — has redirected $370 million into the Afghan economy and it continues to grow. Before, these companies and skilled workers were there, but there was no easy way to find them.

PDT’s success in Afghanistan has garnered the official endorsement of the U.S. government: all of its aid organizations are to operate through PDT and to adopt its “Afghan-first” policy, according to a memo from the U.S. ambassador there and top American general Stanley McChrystal. PDT is funded primarily by Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia and Norway, as well as by the UN and the World Bank.

Australia’s Official development assistance to Afghanistan, Matthew Green, Helen Warrell, Serena Tarling, Steve Bernard and Marine Formentini, Financial Times, 13 October 2009

Nation-building/Economic development – Australia has supplied official development assistance worth:

  • A$88.7m ($80.4m) in 2009-10
  • A$144.2m ($130.8m) in 2008-09
  • A$139.9m ($126.9m) in 2007-8
  • A$77.1m ($69.9m) in 2006-7
  • A$20.9m ($19m) in 2005-6
  • A$22.8m ($20.7m) in 2004-5
  • A$21.5m ($19.5m) in 2002-3
  • A$26.6m ($24.1m) in 2001-2

Total to-date A$541.7m ($491.3m)

Rethink Afghanistan War (Part 3 – Cost of War), BraveNewFoundation,, Youtube, 14 April 2009

Annual Report 2007, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission

“AIHRC wishes to acknowledge with gratitude the financial support provided by …Australia…” [US$780,800 for 2007].

Australia reiterates assistance for Afghanistan, Pakistan Tribune, 19 February 2007.

“Australian ambassador to Afghanistan Brett Hackett has said Afghans are laborious and his countrymen have great respect for them. Hackett took charge of his office some two months back as the first ambassador from Australia to the war-battered country. Hackett recalled Australia $110 million aid for Afghanistan in Berlin conference. He said Australia had also announced $150 million aid for Afghanistan in London conference for the next five years. He said: ‘Australia wants to help in restoring peace to Afghanistan and also help in reconstruction process.’

“Regarding cricket, Hackett said: ‘I am wondered how great number of Afghans don`t understand cricket.’ Hackett said his country had cricket academy where Afghans might get good training. He said cricket should be paid due attention in Afghanistan.”

Non-government Australian aid activities

Australian NGOs supporting projects & operations in Afghanistan, Australian Council for International Development (ACFID)

Listing of NGOs, their main Afghanistan projects and area of focus. Those listed include:

  • Australian Foundation for the Peoples of Asia and the Pacific
  • Australian Red Cross
  • Burnet Institute
  • CARE Australia
  • Christian Blind Mission International (Australia)
  • Muslim Aid Australia
  • Oxfam Australia
  • TEAR Australia
  • World Vision Australia

NGOs in Afghanistan – General

NGO Insecurity in Afghanistan, Afghanistan NGO Safety Office, (ANSO) and CARE, May 2005.

See also

Project coordinator: Richard Tanter
Additional Research: Ronald Li
Updated: 2 March 2010