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U.S. Commitment to Afghanistan

To support the war on terror and to keep with America’s tradition of assisting those in need, the United States is working to build a safe, stable society that meets the needs of its people and eliminates an environment that breeds terrorism. On behalf of the American people, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is working in several key areas to help rebuild Afghanistan for the Afghan people.


– Support for Democracy

Welcome. Mr. President, welcome back to the White House. I am honored to stand by the first democratically-elected leader in the five-thousand year history of Afghanistan. Congratulations.
–President Bush to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, May 23, 2005
Women line up to vote in Afghanistan’s first presidential election. USAID Photo
Women line up to vote in Afghanistan’s first presidential election. USAID Photo

A post-Taliban rebirth of democracy and civil society is underway in Afghanistan. The United States has supported the new democracy by registering over 10 million Afghans to vote for the October 2004 elections, supporting domestic election observers who monitored the presidential elections nation-wide, and providing constitutional and legal experts to work with the committees drafting the constitution and new laws. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is helping to create a broadly accepted national government that can promote national unity, reduce the propensity for inter-group conflict and curtail the role of extremists.

  • In preparation for the September parliamentary elections, the United States is working with the Government of Afghanistan to establish the country’s first ever, truly multi-party legislature. We are supporting Afghan authorities in creating an administrative support structure for the new parliament and are preparing a training program to help new administrators and councilmen perform their tasks more effectively, resulting in better delivery of public services. To ensure free and fair elections, we facilitated the establishment of an independent electoral commission, and an electoral complaints commission and provided training for the electoral media commission.
  • To increase capacity in the formal justice sector, the United States has constructed 24 judicial facilities throughout Afghanistan and trained 579 legal professionals, including 20 women, in a series of formal training programs. We have helped codify, compile, print and disseminate 1,100 copies of Afghanistan’s basic laws in Dari and Pashto to judges and lawyers throughout the country for the first time ever.
  • To increase government accountability and performance, we have funded a network to connect the central government with remote provinces by radio, so they can communicate reliably for the first time. In addition, we selected eight Afghan organizations to implement grass-roots capacity-building activities. The United States is helping to define the structures of district government and their authorities and relations with communities, traditional governance and adjudication bodies (shuras and jirgas), the National Assembly and the central government in Kabul.

Progress in the Security Sector

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.


  • Current ANA strength is currently at more than 15,000 troops. Thanks to active retention programs, the ANA attrition rate has dropped to 1.3 percent per month. The central government is projecting its presence by deploying ANA soldiers to at least 16 provinces. The ANA is a disciplined fighting force capable of conducting both combat and civil-military-affairs operations in conjunction with coalition forces.
  • Nineteen Provincial Reconstruction Teams now operate throughout Afghanistan. The U.S., the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Germany each sponsor teams, and several other coalition countries provide team members.
  • The U.S. has trained over 25,000 police officers. Five regional training centers (RTCs) around Afghanistan are fully operational, and two more are planned. Germany has rebuilt a police training academy and is conducting training programs for officers and NCOs. To date, Germany has trained 750 border police and 3,700 national police, and soon will complete training of 1,500 more national police.
  • The Afghan government has made steady progress with pilot programs to disarm, demobilize, and reintegrate militia members. More than 14,000 militia members have been demobilized in Afghanistan’s eight major cities. In Kabul, the collection of heavy weapons is complete.
  • President Karzai has begun to remove provincial warlords whose control over large parts of the country complicates the security situation—including the powerful warlord-governors of Herat Province. He has extended central government control to the provinces by requiring warlords to send customs they collect to Kabul and by replacing governors, police chiefs, and other officials who support the warlords.
  • Although poppy cultivation and opium production continue to be a problem, since October 2003 Afghan Special Narcotics Forces have destroyed 36 labs and seized over 35 tons of opiates. The U.S. will continue to support the counter-narcotics efforts of the Afghan government and the U.K.-led international program by expanding Afghan security services, providing resources the government needs to control its territory, and supporting the Afghan eradication effort aimed at reducing the 2005 opium crop.


– Afghan Economy Strenthened

We'll continue to support reconstruction, economic development and investments that will help educate and build the skills of the Afghan people.
–President Bush, May 23, 2005
Photo of Kandahar highway construction. USAID Photo
Photo of Kandahar highway construction. USAID Photo

After years of war ruined the public infrastructure, Afghanistan is in the midst of a strong recovery. The United States is working with the Government of Afghanistan to design and implement sound economic policies that are sustainable, transparent and predictable. USAID aims to strengthen economic policies affecting the public sector through building the Ministry of Finance and Central Bank’s capacity and establishing an environment that enables the private sector to expand and produce jobs and income.

  • The United States creates jobs to enable the Afghans to support their families and rebuild their country. We created short-term employment for three million people and provided $700,000 in small loans to help Afghans start their own businesses, giving people jobs and incomes. We also helped convert the five different currencies in use during the Taliban-era to a new national one by providing logistical support by transporting money, providing counting machines and incinerating the old currencies.
  • All parts of the economy struggle when poor roads prevent the transport of goods or a shortage of clean water affects a community’s health. The United States has rebuilt roads to clinics and markets and reopened the Salang Tunnel, high in the mountains, which has reduced travel time by two and half days between Kabul and Mazar-e Sharif. The reconstruction of the Kabul-Kandahar highway has revitalized entire villages; completion of the USAID-funded Herat segment is scheduled for summer 2006. Over 700 kilometers of provincial roads are also under construction, expanding access to many areas that are not served by the primary highway system. One and a half million people have benefited from water projects.
  • The United States has established the Afghanistan Renewal Fund, the first venture capital fund in Afghanistan specifically targeting small and medium-sized enterprises, and supported the stimulation of economic growth by creating a venture capital fund and separate loan guarantee program for ex-combatants in order to stimulate local private sector development and create sustainable employment. We have provided assistance in business plan development, market research analysis and market entry, and supported the development of business associations and industrial parks. We are also supporting the transfer of clear, marketable ownership title to Afghan citizens in a manner that is efficient and effective.
  • Central bank reform has enabled Afghanistan to license ten banks and re-license three state-owned banks; four foreign-owned banks are now operating in the country. USAID helped establish the First Loss Reserve Fund, a loan guarantee fund providing participating banks a $10,000 guarantee for each ex-combatant hired by the loan applicant. Our assistance in customs reform helped the Ministry of Finance to surpass the IMF domestic revenue generation goal for 2004, an increase of 20% from 2003. Revenue collection further increased 35% for the first two months of 2005, compared to the same timeframe in 2004.
  • Afghanistan has a culture of radio listenership, but under the Taliban, music was forbidden and news was tightly controlled. Working with enterprising Afghans and media NGOs, the United States has rebuilt communications networks and has started 32 independent radio stations. USAID has distributed more than 30,000 radios, provided satellite equipment to expand radio access to the entire country and trained and equipped local journalists to report on political, social and economic issues.


– Girls Go Back to School

The National Women's Dormitory and the Women's Teacher Training Institute will allow women to come from every corner of the country and have a safe place to stay and study so that they can return home and share one of life's greatest gifts with their communities - the gift of an education.
--First Lady Laura Bush
In March 2005, female students entered the newly renovated National Women’s Dormitory in Kabul. The dorm has enabled girls from rural areas to attend institutions of higher learning such as the medical school, Afghan Education University, Polytechnic Institute and Kabul University. USAID Photo
In March 2005, female students entered the newly renovated National Women’s Dormitory in Kabul. The dorm has enabled girls from rural areas to attend institutions of higher learning such as the medical school, Afghan Education University, Polytechnic Institute and Kabul University. USAID Photo

Prior to the fall of the Taliban, only about thirty-two percent of school-age children were enrolled; only three percent of the country’s girls attended school. Eighty percent of existing schools were either severely damaged or destroyed at the end of the Taliban rule. USAID’s education program was designed to meet the urgent need for school building, textbook printing, teacher training, and accelerated learning for over-aged students who had been denied an education under the Taliban; it has been expanded to include radio-based teacher training, higher education programs and literacy training for workforce development.

  • In conjunction with the Ministry of Education, the United States has built or refurbished 315 schools, primarily in remote areas; an additional 184 schools are currently under construction. We have printed and distributed 36 million textbooks for grades 1-12 in both Dari and Pashto. We are printing an additional 6 million textbooks for grades 1-12 in the autumn of 2005. We have trained teachers, distributed school supplies, and provided food rations as an incentive for families to send their daughters to school. By the end of 2004, 4.8 million children were enrolled in school.
  • To support students who were denied education under the Taliban, we have enrolled 170,138 students -- 58% of whom are girls -- in the Accelerated Learning Program. We have trained 8,000 students around the country in functional literacy, economic self-reliance, and grassroots democracy through the Literacy and Community Empowerment Program.
  • First Lady Laura Bush recently visited the Women’s Teacher Training Institute in Kabul in March 2005. This central resource for government and agencies provides access to training, materials, and modern pedagogical approaches that support practical and sustainable literacy, numeracy, and life skills. She also visited the Kabul Women’s Dormitory that USAID rehabilitated to accommodate 1,100 women from mainly rural areas who will attend one of four universities in Kabul.
  • The United States is establishing the American University of Afghanistan, a private American-style university, in Kabul. We sponsor a Radio Teacher Training in 34 provinces; this program currently reaches 65,000 teachers by radio and 10,496 additional teachers through face-to-face training.


– More Afghans Get Basic Health Care

This Afghan doctor provides medical care to Afghan women. USAID’s maternal and child health program has been working very closely with the Ministry of Public Health to provide essential services to the Afghan people. USAID Photo
This Afghan doctor provides medical care to Afghan women. USAID’s maternal and child health program has been working very closely with the Ministry of Public Health to provide essential services to the Afghan people. USAID Photo

The United States is working to improve the basic health and nutrition of Afghans and to increase access of women and children to quality basic health services, especially in rural and underserved areas. In collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health, USAID currently provides health services in 310 sites around Afghanistan, including 13 district hospitals. Services are provided by working through community-based volunteer health workers at all levels in the health care system—from basic health centers at the village level to provincial hospitals. As a result, some 7.1 million people in 14 provinces now have better access to quality health services. Approximately 70% of patients served are women and children.

  • We constructed or rehabilitated 338 health clinics, supplied $2 million worth of essential drugs and provided treatment and counseling to 2,895,081 patients. We trained 5,000 community health workers, graduated 337 midwives, trained over 700 doctors and revitalized the skills of nurses and midwives through refresher training modules. We have leveraged existing private sector infrastructure to apply a market-based approach to make information, products and services available to people in need.
  • 4,210 community leaders and health professionals have been trained in malaria prevention, reproductive health and hygiene education. The United States has distributed 159,431 insecticide-treated bednets and 123,630 bednet retreatment tablets for malaria prevention and has delivered 455,675 bottles of “Clorin” water disinfectant to people in rural areas, to prevent diarrheal diseases in children.
  • The United States helps to improve the management and leadership capacity of the Ministry of Public Health at central and provincial levels by introducing management and clinical standards, developing policies, and providing maintenance and repair guidelines.


– Agricultural Production Nearly Doubled, Alternative Livelihoods Strengthened

After all, Afghanistan has had a long history of farming. And we can do -- we can do a lot to help the farmers get back on their feet and diversify away from poppies.
–President Bush, May 23, 2005
The purpose of USAID’s agricultural sector development program is to improve food security, increase cropping productivity and rural employment, and improve family incomes and well being. Improved job opportunities and incomes are also aimed at reducing pressures on the poor to grow illicit crops. Here, a farmer tends his grape vines. USAID Photo
The purpose of USAID’s agricultural sector development program is to improve food security, increase cropping productivity and rural employment, and improve family incomes and well being. Improved job opportunities and incomes are also aimed at reducing pressures on the poor to grow illicit crops. Here, a farmer tends his grape vines. USAID Photo

Agriculture is a way of life for 70% of Afghanistan’s people. However, instability, coupled with the region’s four-year drought, devastated the country’s farms. USAID renovates irrigation systems, builds roads to markets and provides fertilizers and seeds, which increases cropping productivity, strengthens food security and improves family incomes and rural employment. Over the past few years, agricultural production has nearly doubled, increasing farmers’ incomes.

  • To stop the illegal drug trade that has been a major source of income for the country when there were few alternatives, the United States provides incentives to farmers to stop planting poppies. We also provide training, demonstration centers, and farm-related business training to farmers to help them increase their income from legitimate crops and we launched an economic safety net programs to increase household incomes for women and other vulnerable groups. To reward good performers in the counter-narcotics effort, we distributed 31 tons of corn seed and 232 tons of fertilizer in July in Oruzgan province. This fall we will be distributing 14,000 tons of seed and 40,000 tons of fertilizers to 500,000 farmers throughout the country.
  • In our efforts to restore Afghanistan’s infrastructure, we have improved irrigation on over 840,000 acres of land by rehabilitating 1,200 miles of irrigation canals, rebuilt 304 miles of farm-to-market roads, and improved 147 storage/market facilities. We developed a capacity building plan for the management of forests, rangeland and watersheds to conserve plant diversity in selected areas where economic and biological values are high. We established 17 village based seed enterprises (VBSEs) that produced 1000 MT of improved seed in 2004 and supplied 40 MT of seed wheat during the December 2004 “emergency wheat campaign” in Nangarhar Province.
  • To help develop markets in Afghanistan, the United States co-funded a private Vegetable Dehydration Plant which employs 400 women and purchases vegetables from 600 families in the Parwan province with market contracts in Germany, the Netherlands and the UK. We paved the way for commercial exports of horticulture crops to the region with the successful pilot air shipment of fresh grapes to India and the United Arab Emirates, established four processing/cold storage plants with 50 metric tons capacity each to store and cool the August-October harvest of grapes for export, and installed eight farm-level refrigerated rooms to maintain quality of grapes before shipment.
  • The United States has provided $3.5 million in seed money for a commercial leasing entity and contributed $3.8 million in funding to support the establishment of an equity investment fund which will provide 20% of its capital to commercial agro-processing and production input/export industries. We created a $2 million commercial bank revolving credit facility which has already issued approximately $700,000 in loans, trained 1,150 loan officers and provided more than 15,900 loans to micro-enterprises.
  • The United States established the Kabul University Faculty Veterinary Clinic (KUFVC) for practical training of faculty and students on animal medicine and surgery; we have supported 247 private veterinary assistants in 23 provinces, who have carried out 13.7 million vaccinations/medications to livestock and poultry. In Baghlan and Parwan provinces, we delivered training on improved animal health service and improved feed production. We also distributed 133,718 young pullets to egg cooperative members.
  • We set up crop demonstration plots in 75 private farms with the dual purpose of providing nutrition for the family and fodder for livestock. The United States trained 973 fertilizer dealers and 347 extension staff in 18 provinces in fertilization and pest control techniques; and also established 17 improved seed farms in five key provinces. We provided pest control, processing machinery operation and marketing advice to several dozen lead growers and seven dried fruits and nuts producer-processor entities. As a result, average yield increases of 30 to 50 percent were achieved during the past crop year.


– Expanding Roles for Women

This Alternative Livelihoods program provides employment and training to 200 women in Nangarhar province. USAID Photo
This Alternative Livelihoods program provides employment and training to 200 women in Nangarhar province. USAID Photo

As the United States has moved from emergency reconstruction in to long-term development in Afghanistan, the emphasis on women and deeper gender issues has intensified across its programs. USAID is working to expand community-based healthcare, open the world of education to women and girls, empower women with a voice in governance, and ensure due process for women.

  • In Afghanistan, a woman dies every 27 minutes from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. USAID is increasing health care access and strengthening health-focused literacy to reduce maternal and child mortality.
  • USAID provides education for girls and training for female teachers. In rehabilitating and constructing schools, we have designed appropriate facilities that are sensitive to gender issues. We are addressing the multifaceted needs of women and their families in an integrated, culturally appropriate way and are teaching literacy, numeracy and life skills linked to enterprise development and self-governance to empower rural communities.
  • The small hands of women and girls are integral to poppy production, particularly for lancing the bulbs and collecting opium gum, yet studies have found that women know the dangers to their health and the health of their children and would prefer to do other types of work if they had a choice. Thus, the United States is revitalizing agricultural livelihoods for women by providing technical and income-generating skills development in animal husbandry and other small agro-business activities. Working with the Ministry of Commerce, the United States has helped introduce women’s products locally and internationally and has trained women in basic and advanced business courses.
  • Through the passage of the new Constitution in 2004, women are guaranteed 25% of the seats in the lower house of Parliament -- USAID’s political party and candidate training programs have provided guidelines in the principles of democracy and governance to women throughout Afghanistan. To intensify its commitment to meeting the multifaceted and complex needs of women in Afghanistan, USAID is helping the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and hundreds of civil society organizations to increase their impact as leaders on issues of women and social justice and to increase services for women, such as literacy, health education, skills training and participation in governance.