Afghanistan

The situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated dramatically since the Taliban took power on 15 August 2021. The de facto government is yet to be recognised internationally. Pandemics and droughts are exacerbating an unprecedentedly rapid collapse of the Afghan economy – in 2021 alone, hundreds of thousands were displaced internally in Afghanistan or fled to neighbouring countries, and half of the population is affected by hunger. Afghanistan has become the site of one of the worst humanitarian emergencies worldwide.

The international community has not been inactive. In 2021 alone, Germany provided 600 million euros to reduce the impact of the humanitarian disaster and prevent the region from becoming destabilised. The money has been used for humanitarian assistance and structural transitional aid and to help cover basic needs both in Afghanistan and in neighbouring countries – for instance, to support Afghan refugees and their host communities.

The BMZ has contributed 250 million euros to the crisis package totalling 600 million euros that has been made available by the German government. These funds are being used to support the people in Afghanistan and Afghan refugees in host countries in the region. The graphic below shows how the funds are distributed.

Graphic on the BMZ crisis response in Afghanistan and the region. The BMZ is contributing 250 million euros to the crisis package totalling 600 million euros that has been made available by the German government. These funds are being used to support the people in Afghanistan and Afghan refugees in host countries in the region.

Graphic on the BMZ crisis response in Afghanistan and the region

Show larger view of the graphic | Show accessible version of the description

Graphic on the BMZ crisis response in Afghanistan and the regionShow larger view of the graphic | Show accessible version of the description

The United Nations and non-governmental organisations are indispensable partners when it comes to helping Germany provide assistance in the areas of food security, education, health care, psychosocial support, employment and social protection. The proviso is that the assistance provided must directly benefit the Afghan people.


Support for internally displaced Afghan citizens and Afghan refugees in neighbouring countries

Even before the Taliban takeover, Afghanistan was the country of origin of the third highest number of refugees in the world (after Syria and Venezuela). Most Afghan refugees stay in the local region. Some 2.2 million Afghans are currently living in neighbouring countries, in particular in Pakistan and Iran. In addition, there are roughly 5.8 million internally displaced persons in Afghanistan.

Development work must and can continue

The Afghan people urgently need support to ensure that basic needs continue to be met. More than half the population is starving, which includes 13 million children. According to the World Bank, in 2022, 70 per cent of Afghan households will not be able to meet their basic needs.

The United Nations estimates that funds amounting to 3.42 billion US dollars are need in 2022 alone to ensure basic needs are met and to maintain basic infrastructure.

The international community agrees that humanitarian assistance alone is not enough in this situation.

Since the Taliban took over in August 2021, Germany has been working through its development engagement to prevent a humanitarian disaster and the collapse of basic services without its activities contributing in any way to legitimising the Taliban regime. It is now a matter of preserving the progress achieved in the past.

Gains achieved as a result of our activities until now

For many years, Germany supported the Afghan administration in making basic infrastructure available for its people: education and health facilities, drinking water and energy supply, construction of roads. In addition, Germany supported measures to reduce poverty and promote economic development in Afghanistan, and to strengthen Afghan civil society and build rule-of-law institutions there.

For a long time, Germany was the second biggest bilateral donor after the US, providing up to 430 million euros a year, with 250 million coming from the BMZ.

Since the first international deployments to Afghanistan in 2002, German development cooperation activities, together with other efforts by the international community, have been instrumental in significantly improving living conditions in Afghanistan. Thus:

  • Between 2001 and 2018 the number of pupils attending school there increased tenfold to more than 10 million and the literacy rate rose from 18 to 43 per cent in the same period.
  • In 2020, almost 98 per cent of people had access to electricity. In 2005 it was just one quarter.
  • Per capita income almost trebled between 2002 and 2020.
  • Maternal mortality has fallen by 54 per cent since 2001.
  • In 2018, 87 per cent of people in Afghanistan had access to health services (2001: 8 per cent).
  • In 2000, almost 32 per cent of the country’s population had access to reliable, safe drinking water. By 2020, with an increase to 72 per cent, this share had more than doubled.

Aims of German development policy in Afghanistan

Support without involving the Afghan government means:

The BMZ does not engage in government negotiations with the Taliban government.

Germany is not making any financial commitments to the Taliban regime. No funds provided by the BMZ are flowing into the Afghan national budget; the Taliban have no influence on the project locations, target groups or partners involved.

We want to continue in future, too, to do our utmost to improve the living conditions for the people in the country. That is why our goals are to

  • strengthen the resilience of the people and enable them to earn a living and
  • promote effective institutions and social cohesion and improve the economic situation.

Hence, in order to ensure that basic needs are met in Afghanistan (above all as regards agriculture, water supply, education and health), the BMZ will provide support to help the Afghan people – without involving government authorities.

The BMZ is working with a number of international and non-governmental partners:

  • the United Nations,
  • the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, as well as
  • national and international non-governmental organisations.

The principles guiding our engagement

The protection of human rights, especially the rights of women and girls, is absolutely central. 

That is why we have agreed fundamental principles with other partners, for instance on not involving the Afghan government or on equal access to our support for women and girls.

The German government is following the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan very closely, deciding whether and how to adjust its involvement depending on the development of the situation. 

Evaluation and research 

With a view to learning from the past for future interventions in fragile environments, the lessons learned will be reviewed in cooperation with other ministries, implementing organisations, civil society partners – including from the Afghan diaspora – and think tanks. In April 2022, an inter-ministerial evaluation was started of the work done in Afghanistan by the German Development Ministry, the Federal Foreign Office and the Ministry of the Interior.

As at: 03/08/2022