Chapter 3

Chapter 3

Development assistance to Afghanistan 2001–2010

3.1        As the security situation gradually improved from mid November 2001, humanitarian agencies began to expand their operations and redeploy their staff to major urban areas in Afghanistan.[1] The country's prospects now presented a fresh opportunity for the new administration and the donor community to tackle the enormous task of recovery.[2] Australia supported the US and NATO led interventions in Afghanistan. It also responded to the UN call for support and assistance for humanitarian aid and for the restoration and renewal of Afghanistan. In this chapter, the committee provides an overview of international efforts to provide assistance to Afghanistan and, against this backdrop, details Australia's contribution to help the Afghan people rebuild their country and livelihoods.

International context

3.2        The parties to the Bonn Agreement requested the UN, the international community, particularly donor countries and multilateral institutions, 'to reaffirm, strengthen and implement their commitment to assist with the rehabilitation, recovery and reconstruction of Afghanistan, in coordination with the Interim Authority'.[3] Within weeks, the international community rallied to the call for assistance.

Tokyo Conference 2002

3.3        In January 2002, just over a month after the meeting in Bonn, representatives from 61 countries and 21 international organisations assembled in Tokyo at an International Conference on Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan. The participants reaffirmed their readiness to help Afghan people recover. At this gathering, the Afghan Interim Administration identified the following key priority areas for the reconstruction of the country:

3.4        Afghan and international NGOs also held a meeting during which they recognised that to build the capacity of the Afghan people to contribute to reconstruction, it was necessary to focus on education and training, particularly for women.[5]

3.5         The Tokyo conference was the first of a number of international gatherings that would bring the government of Afghanistan and the international donor community together in a combined effort to ensure that development assistance would be used most effectively to rebuild the country. Although not part of this series of meetings, the Paris Declaration in 2005 stands out as a major landmark for international development assistance, which influenced the thinking at subsequent meetings on Afghanistan.

Paris Declaration 2005

3.6        In March 2005, over 90 participating countries and 40 organisations endorsed a strategy designed to improve the effectiveness of development assistance and made a commitment to the following principles:

3.7        These foundation principles formed an important platform for decisions and agreements reached in the series of conferences on development assistance to Afghanistan that followed the first Tokyo conference in 2002. The London Conference in 2006 marked the next significant milestone. 

London Conference 2006 and the Afghanistan Compact

3.8        At the beginning of 2006, the newly-elected Government of Afghanistan and the international community gathered in London to devise a strategy for solving Afghanistan's problems. They reached agreement on a compact, which enunciated the objectives for state building and set benchmarks in core sectors of security, governance, rule of law and human rights; and economic and social development.[7] Under this compact, donors would among other things:

3.9        In respect of aid not channelled through the core budget, participating countries to the Afghan compact agreed to endeavour to:

3.10      The Government of Afghanistan undertook to provide a 'prioritised and detailed Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) with indicators for monitoring results'. As a participating country to the 2006 Afghanistan Compact, Australia affirmed its commitment to improve the effectiveness of the aid being provided to Afghanistan in accordance with the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.

Paris 2008 and the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS)

3.11      After two years of extensive consultations, the Afghan Government produced its National Development Strategy covering the period 2008–2013. President Hamid Karzai described it as an 'Afghan-owned blueprint for the development of Afghanistan in all spheres of human endeavour'.[10] Although focused on the next five years, the ANDS was to serve as Afghanistan's 'roadmap for the long-desired objective of Afghanization' as the country transitioned 'towards less reliance on aid and an increase in self-sustaining economic growth'.[11]

3.12      The strategy's overriding objectives were to reduce poverty substantially, improve the lives of the Afghan people, and create the foundation for a secure and stable country'.[12] It recognised that, despite the government's commitment and the considerable assistance provided by the international community, achieving all its objectives fully would not be possible in five years. The ANDS made clear that the principles of the Paris Declaration would undergird the strategy.[13]

3.13      In June 2008, the Afghan Government and the international community adopted the ANDS as a common framework for joint action over the coming five years. Meeting in Paris, the donor countries agreed to align their efforts behind the financing and implementation of the strategy. They gave their commitment to a 'strengthened partnership, based on Afghan leadership, on a set of agreed priorities, and on mutual obligations.' In their declaration, the international community agreed to provide increased, more predictable, transparent and accountable assistance and to deliver it in a more coordinated way. Aid was to be channelled increasingly through the national budget as strengthened and accountable government institutions acquired greater capacity for management. The international community also agreed that aid would be provided in order to: focus on state building; avoid parallel structures; promote local procurement and capacity building; and ensure that the benefits would reach all provinces equitably.[14]

International assistance and the transition

London Conference 2010

3.14      Two years later, at the London Conference in January 2010, the international community pledged to maintain its long term commitment to Afghanistan as previously set out in the 2002 Tokyo Conference, the 2006 Afghanistan Compact and the 2008 Paris Declaration. Conference participants in London in 2010 re-affirmed the goals of greater Afghan leadership, increased regional cooperation and more effective international partnership. They stated their commitment to make intensive efforts to ensure that the Afghan government was 'increasingly able to meet the needs of its people through developing its own institutions and resources'.[15]

3.15      The conference communiqué welcomed the international community's commitment to more effective and properly resourced civilian engagement and to support the Afghan Government in order to improve the performance of international civilian assistance. It also recognised the international community's commitment to align its assistance more closely with Afghan priorities, in keeping with the Paris principles on aid effectiveness.[16] Conference participants also undertook to help the Afghan Government's anti-corruption efforts by providing assistance to the new institutions and to increase the transparency and effectiveness of their own aid in line with the 2008 Paris Conference Declaration and the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.[17]

Kabul 2010

3.16      Shortly after the London meeting, another was held in Kabul in July 2010, where the Afghan government and the international community recognised that to achieve success their partnership should be based on Afghanistan's leadership and ownership—the two key principles of aid effectiveness.[18] Donors stated their intention to realign their assistance to advance Afghanistan's priorities and reaffirmed the commitments made in London to channel a greater share of international resources through the Afghan Government budget.[19]

Summary of international developments 2001–2010

3.17      From Bonn in 2001 through to the Kabul conference in 2010, the Afghan Government and international community endeavoured to establish principles and guidelines for the effective delivery of development assistance to Afghanistan. They understood that if Afghanistan were to recover and rebuild, it had eventually to take charge of its own affairs but that it needed outside assistance to fund and develop the capacity to do so. The international community recognised the importance of working in partnership with the Afghan Government; of aligning its assistance with the government's priorities; and of increasing the proportion of funds channelled through the national budget.

3.18      Against this background, the committee in the following section traces the evolving nature of Australia's development assistance to Afghanistan.

3.19      Table 3.1: Australian ODA to Afghanistan by Australian Government Agency ($m)

Australian ODA to Afghanistan by Australian Government Agency ($m)

Overview—Australian ODA

3.20      Australia's aid program is one element of 'an integrated whole-of-government effort involving interlinked security, diplomatic and development objectives'.[20] The diagram on the previous page shows the amount of Australian ODA to Afghanistan and the government departments and agencies engaged in delivering aid to Afghanistan from 2001–2013. It should be noted that this diagram is a revised version of the one originally provided to the committee in AusAID's submission. Due to Defence's overestimation of ODA eligible funds the amount of ODA attributed to Defence has been reduced significantly.

Funding and priorities before 2001

3.21      Before 2001, Australian aid to Afghanistan was minimal and directed mainly toward Australia’s landmine action program. This program was designed to help people in Afghanistan lead more productive lives by 'demining arable land, reducing casualty rates by mine mapping and education, and helping victims reintegrate into society by retraining and assisting with their medical needs'.[21] Australia also directed its bilateral and multilateral efforts to assisting countries of first asylum such as Iran and Pakistan to deal with long term caseloads of Afghanistan refugees.

Funding and priorities—2001–2005

3.22      In the years immediately following the Bonn Agreement, Australia's aid to Afghanistan's recovery was modest, rising from a relatively low base of $7 million in 2000–01 to between $20.68 million and $26.5 million in the subsequent five years. During this period, the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) were the only significant agencies delivering development assistance to Afghanistan.

3.23      In 2001–2002, AusAID disbursed over $37 million to provide humanitarian relief and reconstruction assistance to Afghan people affected by war, drought and earthquake. At that time, the funding represented Australia's second largest contribution to a single humanitarian effort, exceeded only by East Timor.[22] Australia also supported emergency medical assistance, landmine awareness and clearance activities, capacity building for Afghan civil society groups and for the local administration. To do so, it used the Afghanistan Interim Authority Trust Fund, which was administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).[23]

3.24      The following financial year, 2002–03, Australian aid to Afghanistan was again primarily humanitarian, targeted at priority needs for medical assistance, mine action, food security, basic education and help for displaced and returning Afghans. Assistance, however, was also provided for drug control and reconstruction activities in areas such as banking and finance.[24] The Australian Centre for Internal Agricultural Research (ACIAR) provided $650,000 in multilateral funding for the 'Seeds of Strength' project, which commenced in 2002.[25]

3.25      Although Australia's aid program to Afghanistan focused on humanitarian assistance including the return and reintegration of displaced Afghans and improving food security, it also sought to assist Afghanistan by building the capacity of national institutions to manage a successful transition to a democratic society.[26] For example during 2004–2005, Australia provided $5 million for governance and electoral support for the October 2004 presidential elections in Afghanistan and preparations for the parliamentary elections in late 2005.[27]

Australian presence in Afghanistan

3.26      During this early period, AusAID did not have a permanent presence in Afghanistan and Australia provided aid as part of a coordinated international effort delivered through contributions to multilateral organisations including United Nations agencies.[28] The main NGOs and organisations receiving Australian funds were the World Food Program, UNICEF, International Committee for Red Cross, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).[29]

Funding and priorities—2006–2009

3.27      At the 2006 London Conference, Australia renewed its bilateral aid commitment to Afghanistan.[30] It pledged $150 million with funding beyond mid-2007 subject to the Government of Afghanistan's performance against benchmarks contained in the 2006 compact.[31] Indeed, between 2006 and 2009 Australia's ODA to Afghanistan increased significantly from an average of around $20.3m per year for the preceding 5 years to $36.6m in 2006–07, $84.7m in 2007–08, $90m in 2008–09, dipping to $82m in 2009–10.[32]

3.28      On the diplomatic front, the government decided to establish an embassy in Kabul, which prompted a whole-of-government effort to prepare for the embassy's opening in September 2007.[33] At this time, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) established a new Direct Aid Program in Afghanistan, a flexible small grants scheme, administered by the embassy in Kabul.

3.29      Throughout this period, Australia’s aid program continued to focus on helping the Afghan Government build its ability to provide security and deliver essential services, including health and education.[34] Australia provided training and capacity building activities to key ministries including health, education, rural reconstruction and development, agriculture, irrigation and livestock.[35] It also focused on improving infrastructure including water supply and sanitation, rural roads and irrigation.[36] Reconstruction and development efforts in Afghanistan were underpinned by the priorities and goals of the 2006 Afghanistan Compact and the ANDS.[37]

3.30      Through support to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, Australia continued funding for demining operations, assisting the victims of mines and improved human rights conditions.


3.31      As part of its resettlement program in Afghanistan, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) commenced a project in September 2006 to build accommodation for refugees. The settlement, named AliceGhan, sought to provide housing, public services, infrastructure and vocational training and employment opportunities for vulnerable returnee families.[38] The committee discusses this project further when it considers the effectiveness of Australia's aid to Afghanistan.

Reconstruction (Uruzgan)

3.32      In 2006, to assist in the reconstruction of infrastructure in Afghanistan, Australia deployed a Reconstruction Task Force of 400 ADF troops as part of the Dutch-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Uruzgan with supplementation of $218.2 million over three years.[39] This contribution to the PRT as part of ISAF was the first time that Australia had deployed troops to a NATO operation.[40] It marked a notable surge in development activity by Defence in Afghanistan, which accounted for around 16 per cent of Australia's ODA to Afghanistan in 2006–07 rising to 20 per cent in 2007–08 and 2008–09 (this is based on the revised figures).

3.33      The Uruzgan PRT, one of more than 26 such teams operating across Afghanistan, comprised both civilian and military personnel working together in support of the outreach delivery of governance and development activities.[41] First established in 2003, PRTs were responsible for overseeing governance and development efforts in their respective province. The teams were to assist 'in establishing security in the areas of their deployment to facilitate the establishment and work of provincial administrations and development organizations and to promote rule of law'.[42]

3.34      Initially, the ADF Reconstruction Task Force in Uruzgan was a mix of engineers and security personnel working on rebuilding vital infrastructure (hospitals, schools, bridges, causeways and culverts) and community-based projects.[43] As 2008 progressed, Defence indicated that the force in Afghanistan would transition to a mentoring and reconstruction role in Uruzgan with the deployment of ADF mentors to train the Afghan National Army (ANA).[44] This development would align with the broader strategy of establishing a self-reliant Afghan National Security Force.[45] The Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force's mission was then twofold—reconstruction and training and mentoring. The Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) noted that as time went on, the focus would be 'very much on transiting into training': that the Australian force would become more engaged in training the ANA and the Afghan National Police (ANP).[46]

3.35      In late 2007, AusAID deployed the first of its development advisers to Uruzgan province to support the reconstruction efforts of the ADF’s Reconstruction Task Force.[47]

Law and order

3.36      AFP personnel were not directly involved in delivering assistance to Afghanistan until 2006. Late that year, after formal requests for assistance from the governments of the United Kingdom and Afghanistan, the Australian Government decided to deploy AFP officers.[48] This decision was taken following two scoping missions to the country that reviewed the security situation and other issues such as immunities, protections and coalition facilities available for AFP personnel.[49] DFAT worked on negotiations for a memorandum of understanding on privileges and immunities covering AFP members to make their deployment possible.[50]

3.37      At the beginning of 2007, the Minister for Justice and Customs announced that AFP personnel would be deployed to Afghanistan for an initial period of two years to support the international effort to assist police in Afghanistan. Funding of $5.357 million over two years was made available for the deployment.[51]

3.38      Of the first contingent of four officers who served in Afghanistan between October 2007 and October 2008, two agents were based in Kabul to mentor senior police and act as high-level advisors to the Afghan National Police (ANP). They assisted the multinational security transition force that was overseeing efforts to train and build the capability of the ANP.[52] The other two agents were placed in advisory roles with the Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan (CNPA) in Jalalabad in the eastern part of the country. They worked under the auspices of the British Embassy Drug team and their appointments were in response to a request for assistance from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Office was seeking advisors with experience investigating illegal narcotics to join the CNPA, which managed all major drug investigations in Afghanistan.[53] The AFP understood that the large scale production of opium in Afghanistan fuelled the Taliban-led insurgency, threatening regional and international security.[54]

3.39      In May 2008, an additional eight AFP officers were deployed to Afghanistan to assist in capacity development and counter-narcotics activities. The deployment comprised specialist police personnel who were placed in selected locations within Afghanistan as part of Australia's wider effort to support international stabilisation. The officers provided high level advice to the NPA and assumed advisory roles with the CNPA.[55] The AFP explained that the mission had a particular focus on countering the production and trade of narcotics:

As part of a whole-of-government response to the counter-narcotics challenge, the deployment provides strategic, analytical and intelligence advice on counter-narcotics and law enforcement activities being conducted within wider international stabilisation activities.[56]

3.40      The AFP's work was undertaken in cooperation with the Government of Afghanistan. Although the AFP recognised that its contribution was relatively small, the placement of its personnel within Coalition commands and operational organisations allowed it to support the international effort at the strategic and operational levels.[57]

3.41      Between 2009 and 2010, the AFP deployed a further 12 members to Afghanistan to support ANP counter-narcotic efforts. Located in Kabul and Kandahar, they were 'strategically placed within the Crimes Task Force, the Inter-Agency Operations Coordination Centre and the Combined Joint Inter Agency Task Force'. The officers worked on intelligence analysis and developed strategic direction and planning for ANP capability enhancement. AFP members also provided 'strategic direction to the Afghan-led Major Crimes Task Force'. Coalition partners developed this task force to improve and promote an Afghan national investigation capability to target high-level corruption, kidnapping and organised crime.[58]

3.42      It should be noted that expenditure on police training is reportable as ODA, unless the training relates to paramilitary functions such as counter-insurgency work or intelligence gathering on terrorism.[59]

Alignment with the 2008 Paris Declaration

3.43      In June 2008, the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Stephen Smith, pledged a further $250 million in reconstruction and development assistance to Afghanistan over the next three years. The extra funding was to assist Afghanistan to provide better health and education services, secure food supplies in the face of rising world prices, strengthen its police force and expand landmine action programs. In accord with the Paris Declaration of 2008, Australia undertook to align its development assistance with Afghanistan's strategy goals in the key areas of security, governance, rule of law and human rights, and economic and social development.[60]

Training and mentoring 

3.44      During 2009, the international community became increasingly aware of the need for its effort to be more comprehensive and inclusive: for there to be a collective resolve to promote government development and police capability as well as security.[61] In March 2009, Australia's Foreign Minister welcomed the call for a comprehensive approach to Afghanistan. He stated that a military campaign alone would not solve Afghanistan's problems: that there was a need to better integrate military and civilian efforts across the country.[62]

3.45      The following month, the then Prime Minister indicated that Australia concurred with the view that the current civilian and military strategy was not working and had decided to increase Australia's medium term contribution to Afghanistan. He announced that a key objective was to train Afghan forces so that in time they could take over responsibility for Uruzgan province.[63] Australia's commitment would also include increased civilian support for governance, reconstruction and development, with an emphasis on enhanced support for the provincial administration of Uruzgan.[64] The Prime Minister also indicated that an additional AFP training and advisory team of approximately ten officers would be deployed to train and advise the ANP. Six officers were posted to Uruzgan Province to mentor and advise training staff at the Tarin Kowt Provincial Training Centre and to assist the ANP build and develop core policing capabilities.[65] The Prime Minister explained that these civilian efforts would: ensure, for each military success that we have, that success is appropriately reinforced through policing efforts and development assistance that strengthens, also the local economy.[66]

3.46      Thus, in Uruzgan, where Australian troops were concentrated, AusAID, DFAT and AFP officers worked alongside the ADF on reconstruction, stabilisation and capacity building efforts as part of the PRT.[67]

Funding and priorities 2010—2012

3.47      Between 2010 and 2012, Australia's ODA increased markedly. In 2009–10, aid delivered through AusAID's country program to Afghanistan totalled $53.3 million.[68] According to AusAID, its country program increased by 50% in 2010–2011 to $106 million out of a total ODA of $123.1 million (Figure 3.1 shows $101.4m).[69] AusAID established a new Afghanistan and Pakistan Branch incorporating two Afghanistan sections and a Minister Counsellor was deployed to Kabul to head AusAID's in-country operations.[70]

3.48      In 2011–12, AusAID's country program to Afghanistan increased further to $164.4 million which together with other assistance through regional and global programs and other government agencies brought Australia’s total ODA to an estimated $196.7 million.[71]

Leadership of the Uruzgan PRT

3.49      While AusAID continued to work at the national level to strengthen the Afghan Government's capacity to deliver basic services, particularly to women and children, it also provided such assistance at the provincial level, with a special focus on Uruzgan province.[72] According to AusAID, during 2010–11 approximately 80 per cent of its assistance was delivered at the national level, with the remainder going to Uruzgan where its whole-of-government mission contributed to governance and development, infrastructure reconstruction and police training in the province.[73]

Increase in personnel

3.50      When the Netherlands withdrew from Uruzgan province in August 2010, Australia assumed leadership of the Joint Australian/US/Uruzgan PRT, which comprised roughly 175 personnel, mostly US and Australian.[74]

3.51      The decision to lead the Uruzgan PRT provided added impetus to Australia's commitment to train ANA and the ANP and to increase the civilian side of its contingent in Afghanistan. The number of personnel deployed to Afghanistan increased notably and there was a sizeable boost in ODA with AusAID's contribution far outstripping that of other agencies.[75] A civilian leader from DFAT took leadership of this integrated civil-military team with around 30 other Australian civilians drawn from DFAT, AusAID and the AFP.[76]

3.52      During 2010, AusAID added another five personnel to its staff located in Afghanistan taking the total to nine officers—an increase from three to six in Tarin Kowt; from one to two in Kabul; and one in Kandahar.[77] An AusAID senior officer was posted to the Uruzgan PRT as Deputy Director to lead its development operations. In addition, four Development Advisers were appointed to plan and facilitate PRT development activities.[78]

3.53      DFAT's staff doubled to 11 with personnel increases from three to seven in Kabul; from one to three in Uruzgan Province and one staff member in Kandahar.[79] The number of AFP personnel reached 28:

3.54      According to the AFP, the role of its officers related directly to training the ANP and assisting in the development of ANP capabilities to deal with criminality in Afghanistan.[81]

3.55      The additional civilian personnel would take the total of non-Defence people in Afghanistan to 52 (including the 30 in Uruzgan)—DFAT, AusAID and AFP.[82] Defence explained that the deployment of additional DFAT personnel complemented and would support Australia's substantial military, policing and aid commitments.[83]

Post 2012

3.56      Australia is committed to making Afghanistan its third largest recipient (in volume) of Australian ODA.[84] Australia's total ODA for Afghanistan was expected to be just over $200 million for 2012–13 climbing to $250 million for 2015–16.[85] Importantly, Australia has allocated and continues to direct a significant portion of its aid assistance to Afghanistan through the World Bank administered Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF). Australia's future contribution to Afghanistan is discussed in Part III of the report.


3.57      The Bonn Agreement reached at the end of 2001 recognised the important role that the international community would have in helping the interim authority of Afghanistan start to rebuild the country. In a number of subsequent gatherings, the international community continued to offer its support and commit to the effective delivery of assistance.

3.58      Australia became part of the international donor community pledged to assist Afghanistan with its rehabilitation, recovery and reconstruction. Since 2001, Australia's ODA to Afghanistan has moved through three broad and overlapping phases. The first involved AusAID and, to a lesser extent, DIAC with Australia's overall expenditure well below $30 million. Much of this aid was funnelled through NGOs and multinational organisations.

3.59      The second phase saw an increase in Australian funding with the ADF taking on an active reconstruction role in Uruzgan. Australia also increased the number of civilian personnel on the ground in Afghanistan including a small number of AFP officers and opened an embassy in Kabul.

3.60      In August 2010, Australia assumed leadership of the Uruzgan PRT which ushered in the beginning of the third phase. During this period there was a growing emphasis on training and mentoring with the aim of helping the Government of Afghanistan develop its capacity to take over responsibility for delivering basic services and maintain its own security.

3.61      Clearly, Australia has made a substantial effort to help Afghans rebuild their country. The main question before the committee, however, is the extent to which this assistance has been effective. Before the committee examines in detail the effectiveness of Australia's contribution to Afghanistan's recovery, it considers the major obstacles to delivering assistance to that country. In the following chapter, the committee looks at impediments to the effective provision of aid generated from within Afghanistan itself and then by the donor community.

4 wheel motor bike against an empty barren landscape

Remoteness and insecurity are two of the many challenges for organisations seeking to deliver development assistance to Afghan communities.

Navigation: Previous Page | Contents | Next Page