‘Reliable Partnership in Times of Change’ is the title of the Country Strategy for Afghanistan for the period 2014 – 2017. It was unveiled by Development Minister Dr Gerd Müller at a two-day international conference in March 2014.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in dialogue with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

By the end of the Transformation Decade (2015 – 2024), during which time comprehensive reforms are to be carried out, Afghanistan should have achieved ‘normal’ developing country status. In other words, while Afghanistan will still be reliant on substantial foreign aid, it will by then be in a position to fund its public budget to a large extent from its own internal revenues and assume full financial responsibility for its security. Currently, Afghanistan is not in a position to pay for sustainable development from its own resources.

The Afghan-German Cooperation contributes to the stabilisation and development of the country. Its purpose is to help build an Afghan state which will be recognised by its citizens as the legitimate representative of their interests and provider of services that meet their basic needs. The international donor community is supporting Afghanistan as it moves towards more self-reliance and is monitoring the reform processes and progress towards the agreed objectives. For these objectives to be achieved, the Afghan Government must be in a position to offer its people prospects for a life without poverty and extremism.

At the Tokyo Conference in 2012, the international community pledged to continue its civilian engagement in Afghanistan until 2024. At the London Conference in 2014, Afghanistan’s President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani announced his plans for extensive reforms. At the biannual Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) on 5 September 2015, the Afghan Government reported on progress with the implementation of these reforms. On this basis, a new reform package was agreed with the international community and will be used to measure the Afghan Government’s performance over the coming years. The reform plans were subsequently incorporated into a single policy document, entitled Self-Reliance through Mutual Accountability Framework (SMAF). Based on the SMAF and the agreed reform objectives, the international community held a conference in Brussels in October 2016, where it promised Afghanistan financial assistance of up to USD 15.2 billion for civilian reconstruction for 2017 – 2020. Germany has pledged to continue funding civilian engagement by providing EUR 430 million annually until 2020 (BMZ: EUR 250 million; German Federal Foreign Office: EUR 180 million). However, this funding is conditional upon the Afghan Government making progress on implementing the reform agenda, particularly in the fields of human rights, gender, the rule of law and the fight against corruption.

Based on the agreements reached between the Afghan Government and the donor community, the following fields of action are the focus of the German Government’s Country Strategy for Afghanistan:

  • Offering the prospect of jobs as protection against extremism
    Every year, around 800,000 young people enter the labour market. Measures to promote employment and create jobs will help to give them a more secure future.
  • Building a future through education and vocational training
    A good education and vocational training are the basis for access to employment and political participation. Quality basic and vocational education will improve people’s opportunities to shape their own lives.
  • Delivering justice through good governance
    Well-performing public authorities, administrations and institutions safeguard public order, peaceful social relations and legal certainty. Measures to improve the performance of the legal system and local governance will build these bodies’ expertise and capacities to perform their functions in a transparent manner, combat corruption and empower women.
  • Staying in touch with the people – even outside the cities
    Three out of four Afghans live in rural areas and two-thirds of the labour force work in agriculture. Rural communities will be given swift and effective support that focuses on promoting employment, mainly in the northern provinces, but also in other parts of the country.
  • Promoting and challenging – speaking with one voice
    Germany engages in close consultation with the international community on the support that it provides to Afghanistan. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) expects Afghanistan to make significant and substantial progress in the fields of human rights, gender, the rule of law and the fight against corruption. 


German Cooperation with Afghanistan – Presence in a Fragile Environment

The German Cooperation operates in many areas, including those marked by crisis and conflict. These areas are in particular need of the broad-based commitment offered by the German government. National institutions and civil society organisations require support in guaranteeing a life in peace, political security and stability as well as in developing economic prospects and enabling participation for the entire population.

The German Cooperation focuses on close collaboration on equal terms with the Afghan population and national partners on the ground. After all, only these partners should and could be able to develop the necessary skills and unleash the essential momentum to plan and implement development programmes independently in the long term. For this reason, one of the German government’s top priorities is to work in close consultation with Afghan partners to tailor programmes to specific conditions in Afghanistan and adapt them to local needs in the best way possible.

In these efforts, Afghan experts working for the implementing organisations play a particularly significant role. The approaches used in technical and financial cooperation consistently aim at familiarising the national personnel with the German Cooperation’s processes and training them to manage implementation. The goal is to develop expertise on the ground, to gradually transfer responsibility to Afghan staff as they increasingly gain practical experience and, in doing so, involve them in management processes. Together with international experts, they need to be able to collaborate with Afghan partners to professionally plan programmes, manage their implementation and ensure effectiveness and sustainability of all activities.

The national and international staff’s security in Afghanistan is a top priority for the German government. The situation is continuously monitored. Appropriate safety precautions can be adapted and standards on the ground improved. In case international experts have to leave the country temporarily, activities will not grind to a halt. Resulting from strengthening the Afghan personnel’s capacities, programmes continue to run uninterruptedly. In addition, business continuity management is tested on an ongoing basis: When international staff are unable to be on site, constant business management is guaranteed. This model has proved its success and is continuously developed further. From the planning phase onward, programmes are designed to allow them to continue even if managed remotely from abroad. In respect of all necessary security standards, this is possible due to the active involvement of and close cooperation with national experts in all German Cooperation projects and programmes. Thus, German Cooperation programmes can be implemented under difficult security conditions and their quality and effectiveness ensured.

Results of the German Cooperation

Screen shot CevTracker

Achieving, monitoring and critically evaluating results – how the German Cooperation with Afghanistan works

To continually optimise the approaches and impact of German Cooperation measures with Afghanistan, the German government monitors progress in strategy implementation, reviews the results of individual programmes and carries out regular evaluations. 

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