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An international health-care worker cares for an Afghan child. Improved healthcare will help reduce Afghanistan.s child mortality rate, at one time the highest in the world. The current plan calls for renovation or construction of over 400 basic health centers nationwide
An international health-care worker cares for an Afghan child. Improved healthcare will help reduce Afghanistan.s child mortality rate, at one time the highest in the world. The current plan calls for renovation or construction of over 400 basic health centers nationwide.

U.S. Commitment to Afghanistan  

"Now and in the future, we will support our troops and we will keep our word to the more than 50 million people of Afghanistan and Iraq."
       -- President Bush, September 7, 2003

The U.S. government has provided more than $3.7 billion since September 2001 to programs and activities throughout Afghanistan. Congress authorized an additional $1.28 billion in supplemental funding for Fiscal Year 2004 in advance of the regular appropriation, and the Administration has reallocated nearly $400 million from existing accounts to accelerate progress in Afghanistan. The U.S. is working to revitalize agriculture, provide security, expand educational opportunities, improve basic health, build effective government, and encourage citizen participation in the democratic process.

These efforts have borne fruit for Americans and Afghans alike. Afghanistan is no longer a safe haven and base of operations for terrorists who would attack the United States, and Afghans have returned to their homes from refugee camps. With the Taliban no longer in power, all Afghans are free of the vigilantes and judges who exacted harsh punishments for playing music, flying kites, or shaving. Afghans are taking the first steps to provide not only their own democratic government, but their own national defense and internal security as well. Thanks to road improvements, farmers can get the inputs and supplies they need and send their harvests to market. The important highway from Kabul to Kandahar was repaired ahead of schedule, opening new opportunities for commerce, health, agriculture, and family life. giving renewed life Schools have reopened, with girls attending and women teachers taking their places in the classroom once again. New clinics and hospitals are being opened, and women and children are gaining access to the health care they need. Children have been immunized against diseases such as measles, which had taken thousands of Afghan children’s lives.

"My vision of Afghanistan is of a modern State that builds on our Islamic values, promoting justice, rule of law, human rights and freedom of commerce, and forming a bridge between cultures and civilizations; a model of tolerance and prosperity based on the rich heritage of the Islamic civilization."
      -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai, September 12, 2002

Support for Democracy/Constitutional Government

A post-Taliban rebirth of civil society is underway in Afghanistan. The successful Emergency Loya Jirga, or grand council, completed last year has been followed by a vigorous constitution-drafting process. The draft constitution has been distributed throughout Afghanistan, and Afghans from all walks of life have joined the Constitutional Debate. A Constitutional Loya Jirga beginning December 14, 2003, will discuss and revise the draft, then adopt the final constitution. The peace process agreed to in Bonn, Germany, in January 2002 has been kept on track. Judicial and Human Rights Commissions are in place, and programs are underway to demobilize factional fighters in the countryside. Numerous radio stations are up and running, a journalist-training center operates in Kabul, and a functioning Ministry of Women's Affairs has established women's centers across the nation.

  • The Afghan Constitutional Commission has submitted a draft constitution that creates an Islamic republic with guarantees of individual freedoms, including freedom of worship and rights for women.
  • The draft constitution establishes a presidential system with a bicameral legislature. The lower house would be chosen by direct elections, while the upper house would be evenly divided between representatives selected by provisional councils, representatives selected by district councils, and presidential appointees.
  • The constitution also provides for a four-tiered judicial system culminating in a Supreme Court.
  • In the autumn of 2003, meetings were held at the local and provincial levels to select delegates for the loya jirga meeting in December to debate the draft and adopt the new constitution. Presidential and parliamentary elections will be held in the first half of 2004.
  • More than 90 of the 500 delegates participating in the loya jirga will be women.
  • To support responsible journalism and the development of a free and independent media, the U.S. has trained 326 broadcast and print journalists.
  • Because Afghans rely heavily on radio for their news, information, and entertainment, the U.S. has supported the creation of 31 community radio stations and provided equipment and logistical assistance for Kabul’s first independent FM radio station, Arman (Hope) FM.
  • Four provincial courthouses are under construction, and new courthouses will be built in all 16 provinces.
  • A telecommunications system that connects each of Afghanistan's thirty-two provinces with Kabul is in place, a first step in helping the Afghans improve their ability to run their own affairs.
  • The U.S. has helped rebuild 13 Afghan ministries, including the Ministries of Agriculture, Health, and Education, and other institutions wiped out during the conflict and Taliban oppression. We are repairing buildings and record-keeping systems, and training competent managers and teachers

"Today we are entering the last stages before the Afghan people can, for the first time in their history, freely elect their country's leader and legislature. Let us not forget that direct election of a legitimate and fully representative government by the men and women of Afghanistan as scheduled for next year was but a distant dream two years ago."
      -- Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, November 10, 2003

Security and Defense

Security and stability are improving as the new Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police grow in size. The central government is gradually but surely extending its authority throughout the country. And the U.S. military is helping the Afghan people help themselves through provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs), which carry out both civil-military operations and security functions.

  • Twelve ANA battalions consisting of 6,000 troops have been trained and are on full-time duty, with a goal of 10,000 by June 2004 and 70,000 eventually. The ANA is a disciplined fighting force capable of conducting both combat and civil-military-affairs operations in conjunction with coalition forces.
  • The new ANA has completed its first combat operation. In the Zormat Valley, six ANA companies conducted major combat operations and established a permanent presence in support of the central government.
  • Eight Provincial Reconstruction Teams now operate throughout Afghanistan. The United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Germany each sponsor teams, and several coalition countries provide team members.
  • Coalition members have trained 1,000 police, with a June 2004 goal of 20,000 police in 8 provinces, plus 6,000 border police and 2,600 highway police.
  • Pilot programs in disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration have begun the process of eliminating Afghanistan militia in three provinces. The demilitarization of Kabul has begun, and militia leaders have agreed to transfer their heavy weapons to the Afghan National Army.
  • President Karzai has begun to remove provincial warlords whose control over large parts of the country complicates the security situation—including the powerful warlord-governor of Kandahar Province. He has extended central government control to the provinces by forcing warlords to send customs they collect to Kabul and by replacing governors, police chiefs, and other officials who support the warlords. The U.S. has actively supported this process by building central government capacity and providing resources.
  • The U.S. will continue to support the counternarcotics efforts of the Afghan government and the U.K.-led international program by expanding Afghan security services and providing resources the government needs to control its territory. At the same time, the U.S. will support the Afghan eradication effort aimed at reducing the 2004 opium crop.

"We have conducted a thorough assessment of our military and reconstruction needs in ... Afghanistan ... (to) support our commitment to helping the Iraqi and Afghan people rebuild their own nations, after decades of oppression and mismanagement. We will provide funds to help them improve security. And we will help them to restore basic services, such as electricity and water, and to build new schools, roads, and medical clinics. This effort is essential to the stability of those nations, and therefore, to our own security."
      -- President Bush, September 7, 2003

Humanitarian Assistance

In the largest refugee repatriation in the world in the last 30 years, over 2.5 million Afghan refugees have returned home since March 2002. Another 2 million continue to receive assistance in neighboring countries.

  • Since September 11, 2001, the U.S. has provided $216 million to support Afghan refugees, returnees, and other conflict victims in Afghanistan and neighboring countries, including over $40 million to non-governmental organizations and $105 million to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
  • Through the provision of emergency food, shelter, and medical care, the U.S helped prevent a major humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan. Since September 11, 2001, the U.S. has delivered more than 400,000 metric tons of food to Afghanistan.
  • To meet the needs of returning refugees and help winterize dwellings for Afghan families, the U.S. has provided winterization kits, door and window kits, and other forms of shelter improvement.

Afghanistan was already one of the poorest places on earth before the Soviet incursion of 1979 precipitated more than two decades of conflict and destruction. In 2003, Afghanistan remains at or near the bottom of every socio-economic indicator used to measure human and economic progress, and the country's overall human-misery index is among the highest in the world. One in four Afghan children dies before the age of five. Afghanistan and Sierra Leone have the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.

While Afghanistan’s infrastructure suffered severe damage during more than 20 years of conflict, its institutional devastation was equally severe. In January 2002, we found a nation without a viable security apparatus, courts, or functioning ministries—a place where the basic structure of a nation-state had been obliterated. Compounding these reconstruction challenges, Afghanistan suffers some of the harshest climatic conditions and most difficult terrain on earth, and much of that terrain is laced with millions of unmarked landmines.


Since 85 percent of Afghans depend on the agricultural sector for survival, the U.S. assistance program emphasizes agricultural recovery and rural reconstruction. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported an 82 percent increase in production of wheat—Afghanistan's staple grain—since the fall of the Taliban. The expected wheat harvest for 2003 is 4.4 million metric tons (mt), Afghanistan’s best harvest in over two decades.

  • Afghan farmers achieved this abundant harvest in part due to 12,439 mt of fertilizer and 9,252 mt of seeds for drought resistant, higher yielding varieties of wheat. Both were supplied by the U.S. through private dealers to over 100,000 farmers in 13 provinces during the fall 2002 planting.
  • To improve vital irrigation in this chronically dry country, the U.S. has rehabilitated 7,443 canals, underground irrigation tunnels, reservoirs, and dams by de-silting and cleaning waterways, repairing stone masonry, and building retaining walls.
  • Working with the Afghan government, the U.S. has rehabilitated 7,269 km of rural roads and completed over 600 related road-reconstruction projects, including repair of retaining walls and culverts. This allows humanitarian supplies to reach the needy and helps the Afghans employed in the agricultural sector—more than 70 percent of the population—ship produce to markets and receive needed supplies.
  • The number of Afghans dependent on food aid dropped from 10 million to 6 million in 2002 and continued to drop in 2003.

Infrastructure and Economy

Afghans are working hard to overcome years of war and Taliban rule, which left the public infrastructure in a state of ruin. According to the International Monetary Fund, Afghanistan is in the midst of a strong recovery. Growth in the legitimate economy reached 30 percent this year and is expected to continue at a rate of 20 percent in 2004. The recovery is most visible in agriculture, but includes the construction and services sectors, driven by the international reconstruction effort.

  • At the direction of President Bush, the Kabul-to-Kandahar highway has been rebuilt and repaved--and ahead of schedule. It is the first leg of a joint project by the U.S., Japan, and Saudi Arabia to rebuild the highway connecting Kabul, Kandahar, and Herat. This is the most heavily-traveled portion of the road and is critical to commerce, transportation, and communication in Afghanistan.
  • Rural road reconstruction (see Agriculture section) is also key to revitalizing Afghanistan’s infrastructure and economy.
  • The U.S. has also rehabilitated 74 bridges and tunnels, which are critical parts of the highway infrastructure in mountainous Afghanistan.
  • Highway-improvement projects provided Afghans with 23 million person-days of labor—the equivalent of one month’s wages for over 1 million Afghans.
  • Improving irrigation infrastructure is important to improving the lives of Afghan people. The U.S. has rehabilitated 7,443 canals, underground irrigation tunnels, reservoirs, and dams by de-silting and cleaning waterways, repairing stone masonry, and building retaining walls.
  • In support of private sector investment, a new national currency, the Afghani, is in circulation, the Afghan central bank is on a sound footing, new central bank and banking laws have been enacted, and a new investment code is being prepared.


In 2000, only about 32 percent of school-age children were enrolled in school, and an overwhelming 97 percent of the country's girls did not attend school at all. By the end of Taliban rule, 80 percent of existing schools were either severely damaged or destroyed. Today, the situation has improved dramatically:

  • The U.S. has printed and distributed 25,631,000 textbooks in Dari and Pashtu for the 2002 and 2003 school years, contributing to tremendous growth in school enrollment.
  • Enrollment has grown from approximately 1 million children in 2001 to 3 million in 2002 to an estimated 4.2 million in 2003.
  • The U.S. has repaired or constructed 205 schools, including primary schools, kindergartens, teacher-training colleges, vocational schools, and a university.
  • A total of 3,107 teachers have been trained, including 1,600 primary teachers during the 2002 school year (74 percent of whom were women) and 1,500 in 2003. Thirty thousand teachers received teacher-supply kits for the 2002 school year.
  • Since March 2002, 50,000 Afghan teachers have been receiving an in-kind salary supplement in the form of vegetable oil, a valued commodity in Afghanistan. The supplement represents 26 percent of their monthly income.


The U.S. is working to improve the basic health and nutrition of Afghans, particularly women, children, and displaced persons. It is bringing basic services and health education to under-served communities, focusing on maternal and child health, hygiene, water and sanitation, immunization, and control of infectious diseases. In this effort, we have:

  • Rehabilitated 140 health clinics, birth centers, and hospitals. Provided operational support, including staffing, equipment, and pharmaceuticals, for 163 basic health clinics, obstetrics centers, hospitals, and feeding centers.
  • Provided funding to UNICEF to treat 700,000 cases of malaria and provide malaria-prevention education and supplies to 4.5 million people.
  • Vaccinated 4.26 million children as part of a larger international effort that vaccinated over 90 percent of Afghan children against measles and polio, likely preventing some 20,000 deaths.
  • Provided basic health services to more than 2 million people in 21 provinces; 90 percent of recipients are women and children. Since spring 2002, 1.1 million people have been treated.
  • Provided, through CARE, one-quarter of Kabul’s water supply, focusing on the poorest districts.
  • Rehabilitated 3,637 potable-water supply projects, as well as the municipal water systems in Kandahar and Kunduz, improving water quality, availability, and reliability for 700,000 people.
  • li> Surveyed all health facilities and services and supported plans to expand basic health services for 11 million women and children and to rebuild 400 rural health centers.

International Cooperation

  • At the Tokyo Conference in January 2002, the international community pledged $5 billion for Afghanistan over several years, including humanitarian and reconstruction assistance. In 2002, the international community spent or obligated about $2 billion of the $5 billion pledged.
  • In Afghanistan, our coalition partners are contributing nearly 8,000 troops to Operation Enduring Freedom and to the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul – making up over half of the 15,000 non-Afghan forces in Afghanistan.
  • Our NATO allies have deployed 5,500 military personnel to Afghanistan. On August 11, 2003, NATO took over command and coordination of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). NATO had already played a significant role in support of ISAF, with NATO member countries contributing more than 90 percent of the troops involved at any time.
  • In April 2003, the North Atlantic Council, the Alliance’s top decision-making body, agreed to significantly expand NATO’s support to the international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan, paving the way for NATO's first mission beyond the Euro-Atlantic area. The Alliance is responsible for the command, coordination and planning of the force.
  • UN Security Council Resolution 1510 (10/14/03) extended ISAF’s mandate to December 20, 2004, and authorized ISAF expansion for the first time outside Kabul.

“We've seen in Afghanistan that the road to freedom can be hard; it's a hard struggle. We've also seen in Afghanistan that the road to freedom is the only one worth traveling. Any nation that sacrifices to build a future of liberty will have the respect, the support, and the friendship of the United States of America.”
      -- President Bush, October 11, 2002

Progress for Women

“The Afghan people face continued struggles in rebuilding their government and the nation. But the days when women were beaten in streets and executed in soccer fields are over.”
       -- President Bush, May 9, 2003

“No society can prosper when half of its population is not allowed to contribute to its progress. Educated and empowered women are vital to democracy – and important for the development of all countries.”
      -- First Lady Laura Bush, October 10, 2003

“People around the world are looking closely at the roles that women play in society. And Afghanistan under the Taliban gave the world a sobering example of a country where women were denied their rights and their place in society... Today, the world is helping Afghan women return to the lives that they once knew.... Our dedication to respect and protect women's rights in all countries must continue if we are to achieve a peaceful, prosperous world.... Together, the United States, the United Nations and all of our allies will prove that the forces of terror can't stop the momentum of freedom.”
      -- First Lady Laura Bush, March 8, 2002

President Bush has made women’s human rights in Afghanistan a foreign policy imperative and a cornerstone of all U.S. humanitarian efforts in the region. Before the Taliban came to power, women were important contributors to Afghan society. Many Afghan women were professionals – teachers, doctors and lawyers; they had the right to vote as early as the 1920’s. Under the Taliban, women had few rights. They were denied the right to education and employment and were not allowed to leave their homes without an appropriate male escort. Since female doctors could not legally work and a woman’s contact with unrelated males was severely limited by law, women were effectively denied access to medical care. Under the Taliban, women were forbidden to work outside the home, which forced many widows to beg for survival, and women who laughed out loud in public could be beaten.

  • More than 200 women voted in the Emergency Loya Jirga, which established Afghanistan’s provisional government in 2002.
  • The provisional government includes two female ministers--the Minister of Women’s Affairs and the Minister of Public Health. A woman is Chair of the Human Rights Commission. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has recently created an Office of Human Rights, Health and Women’s Affairs, and the Ministry of Commerce has set up a department to help women establish their own businesses.
  • Two of the nine members of the committee that drafted the new draft constitution and seven of the 35-member Review Commission were women. Almost 20 percent of the 500 seats in the Constitutional Loya Jirga are held by women.
  • Afghan women are beginning to participate in the economy again. Assistance projects throughout the country have helped women establish businesses in traditional artisanry, small manufacturing, agriculture, and trades such as tailoring and bread-baking. Seventeen day-care centers for government ministries and offices were built to enable women to return to work.
  • Under the Taliban, girls were allowed only minimal schooling, and many were educated illegally in risky clandestine schools. Today, one million of the nearly four million children in school are girls.
  • Women are teaching again. Of 1,400 newly-trained teachers, 900 are women.
  • The Ministry of Education established accelerated learning programs to help 15,000 older children who had been denied education under the Taliban catch up with their age groups. Fifty percent of those children are girls.
  • The United States has established over 175 projects that support Afghan women and many more that benefit all Afghans. These projects increase women’s political participation, build civil society, create economic opportunities, support the education of girls and women, and increase access to health care.
  • The U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council, inaugurated by Presidents Bush and Karzai in January 2002, has mobilized the U.S. private sector to support Afghan women. U.S. businesses have provided computer education and leadership training for women working in government ministries. The U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council has sponsored 17 multi-service women’s centers offering vocational training, networking opportunities, counseling, child care, and social services for widows and orphans.

America’s Fund for Afghan Children

Since President Bush announced America's Fund for Afghan Children in October 2001, the fund has raised $11.8 million, including more than $1 million in the past three months. This money purchased 3,750 school chests serving 150,000 students, 750 teacher kits, and 140,000 school bags, and built new playgrounds for schools in Afghanistan. Winter relief items, health kits, and rehabilitation of clinics were also provided with these funds. The American Red Cross processed over 790,000 letters and donations to the fund. For more information, see

The Kabul-Kandar Highway: Bringing Unity, Progress, and Hope

  • The highway from Kabul to Kandahar is 482 kilometers (300 miles) long. It is one segment of a ring road connecting the major cities of Kabul, Kandahar, and Heart. Thirty-five percent of the population of Afghanistan lives within 50 km of this segment of the road and will benefit immediately.
  • This major highway, which originally was built by the U.S., had deteriorated to a nearly impassable state over the last 30 years and was plagued by land mines.
  • Because of the vital importance of this road to the economic, social, and political life of the country, President Bush directed that rehabilitation of the road be a top priority of the U.S. government.
  • The U.S., Japan, and Saudi Arabia have committed to jointly fund the reconstruction of the entire road. The U.S. and Japan have completed this first phase together, and the governments of both Japan and Saudi Arabia are collaborating with the U.S. in the second phase.
  • Because of the state of Afghanistan’s economy and infrastructure, nearly all materials and equipment needed to complete the project had to be imported, and an asphalt-manufacturing plant had to be built in Afghanistan. Mines were cleared along the construction route before work could begin, and workers had to be protected from threats and attacks.
  • The highway links diverse regions of Afghanistan and strengthens the government’s ability to reach communities outside of the Kabul region.
  • The new road permits speeds of over 60 miles an hour and cuts travel time from Kabul to Kandahar from over a day to six hours.
  • For Afghans, this road means lower transportation costs, better access to education and health facilities, increased labor mobility, and greater diversity of products and services through increased inter-provincial trade.
  • The highway will improve access to health care for Afghans by permitting quicker transportation to hospitals in Kabul.
  • Afghanistan is more secure because of the highway, since the U.S. and new Afghan military will be able to patrol larger areas of the country more quickly and easily.
  • With the completion of the first layer of pavement, the road can now be opened to traffic. In the spring and summer of 2004, a second layer of pavement will be completed and highway signage added. The U.S. has already begun surveying for reconstruction of the second section of the Kabul-Kandahar-Herat “ring road.” Work will begin in spring 2004.

Important Activities in
November and December 2003

November 24

Zalmay Khalilzad sworn in as American Ambassador to Afghanistan

November 25

American Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad arrives in Kabul

December 7

Taliban Withdraws from Last Stronghold City of Kandahar, Afghanistan (2001)

December 14-24

(TBC) Constitutional Loya Jirga

December 16

(TBC) Afghan Road Ribbon Cutting

December 18

Second Anniversary of Raising Flag over former U.S. embassy in Kabul (2001)

December 20

The ISAF mandate expires on December 20, 2004, by UNSCR 1510,which also authorized ISAF expansion outside Kabul

December 20

24th Anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and beginning of 10 year occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviets

December 22

Hamid Karzai sworn in as leader of the Afghan Interim Government (2001)

December (TBD)

Launch of the Conservation Corps Project (with U/S Dobriansky)

Support for Democracy/Constitutional Government
Security and Defense
Humanitarian Assistance
Infrastructure and Economy
International Cooperation
Progress for Women
The Kabul-Kandar Highway
America's Fund for Afghan Children
Important Activities in November and December 2003

Press Releases and Speeches
November 3, 2003
Statement on Draft Constitution in Afghanistan
July 7, 2003
The Rights and the Aspirations of the People of Afghanistan
July 1, 2003
President Discusses Progress in Afghanistan, Iraq
May 19, 2003
Rebuilding Afghanistan
February 27, 2003
President Bush Meets with President Karzai of Afghanistan
January 13, 2003
Statement on Afghanistan
November 11, 2002
Afghanistan: Then and Now
November 10, 2002
President Bush Welcomes Highway Construction in Afghanistan
October 11, 2002
Fact Sheet: American Assistance to the People of Afghanistan
October 13, 2002
Statement by the Deputy Press Secretary
May 21, 2002
Radio Address of First Lady Laura Bush to Radio Free Afghanistan
May 3, 2002
To Restore Nondiscriminatory Trade Treatment to the Products of Afghanistan
January 29, 2002
Remarks of Mrs. Laura Bush at USAID Event with Interim Chairman of the Afghan Authority Hamid Karzai
January 28, 2002
Fact Sheet: Assisting People of Afghanistan
December 31, 2001
President Names Special Envoy for Afghanistan
December 14, 2001
Afghanistan Combat Zone Executive Order
November 26, 2001
President Welcomes Aid Workers Rescued from Afghanistan
November 19, 2001
President Discusses War, Humanitarian Efforts
November 6, 2001
President Bush: "No Nation Can Be Neutral in This Conflict"
October 16, 2001
Afghan Children's Fund Launch
October 4, 2001
President Directs Humanitarian Aid to Afghanistan
September 28, 2001
Presidential Determination