Afghanistan and ADB
ADB placed its regular assistance to Afghanistan on hold effective 15 August 2021. In 2022, ADB, through a special financing arrangement with the United Nations, provided basic human needs support to ensure food security and to sustain the delivery of essential health and education services for the Afghan people.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has been Afghanistan’s partner in building a stronger foundation for sustainable growth, reducing poverty, and recovering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. In 2022, ADB committed $405 million in grants to help ensure the supply of adequate food and sustain the delivery of essential health and education services for the Afghan people with appropriate gender balance and inclusivity. Implemented by four United Nations agencies, by the end of 2022, the project had provided nutritionally balanced food to almost 1.19 million people, including 583,958 women and girls, and helped sustain production of wheat and livestock, along with livelihoods support for 201,829 rural households, benefiting 1.9 million people, including 956,704 women and girls. At the same time, 5.31 million people (62% female) received access to essential health and hospital services and about 1.9 million people (50% female) were vaccinated against COVID-19. To tackle entrenched poverty through education, the grants helped 313,334 primary and secondary students (56% girls) to continue learning by expanding community-based education and supplying learning materials for first-graders at public schools.
Afghanistan is a founding member of ADB. With its in-depth experience in delivering projects for fragile and conflict-affected situations, ADB has supported Afghanistan’s development priorities focusing on agriculture, natural resources, and rural development; energy; and transport sectors along with capacity building, institutional development, and sector reforms.
Operations from 2002 to August 2021. ADB committed 147 public sector loans, grants, and technical assistance totaling $5.6 billion to Afghanistan. Cumulative loan and grant disbursements to Afghanistan amount to $3.21 billion. These were financed by regular and concessional ordinary capital resources, and the Asian Development Fund. ADB’s ongoing sovereign portfolio in Afghanistan includes 28 grants worth $2.85 billion.
In 2020, ADB provided $100 million in assistance to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and support poor and vulnerable groups including Afghan women. ADB also provided $40 million in emergency assistance and $2.7 million to procure personal protective equipment.
In April 2021, ADB committed a $50-million grant to procure COVID-19 vaccines for at least 2.6 million people and strengthen the country’s capacity to implement the vaccination program.
ADB committed a total of $2.2 billion including ADB-administered cofinancing for 21 national and regional road projects from 2002 to August 2021. The projects improved regional connectivity and land transport safety, efficiency, and sustainability. They also helped expand economic and social opportunities.
ADB helped deliver reliable electricity to more than 5 million Afghan people by financing 16 electricity projects with a total amount of $1.59 billion including cofinancing from 2002 to August 2021. The projects helped strengthen the national power grid and enable regional power trade with Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
ADB committed more than $900 million including ADB-administered cofinancing for 17 irrigation and agriculture infrastructure projects from 2002 to August 2021 to increase farming productivity, improve food security, promote agribusiness, and enhance water resources management through a climate-resilience approach.
Nonsovereign operations.Total outstanding balances and undisbursed commitments of ADB’s nonsovereign transactions in Afghanistan as of 31 December 2022 was $12.73 million representing 0.1% of ADB’s total private sector portfolio.
Operational challenges. Afghanistan is classified by ADB as a country in a fragile and conflict-affected situation characterized by conflict, political instability, and weak governance and institutional capacity. Before August 2021, ADB operations in energy, transport, and agriculture and natural resources achieved important results in Afghanistan. While regular assistance to Afghanistan is currently on hold, ADB is closely monitoring the situation in Afghanistan and remains committed to supporting the Afghan people.
While the conflict spanning decades has been an inherent challenge for all operations in Afghanistan, the violations of women’s rights have created new difficulties. With ADB having supported food security and the delivery of essential health and education services for the Afghan people, the key challenges are the restrictions being imposed by the de facto government on education and employment of women.
Before August 2021, ADB’s knowledge work in Afghanistan was conducted through analysis, policy dialogue, expertled knowledge sessions, and knowledge products. ADB contributed to Afghanistan’s efforts to become self-reliant, improve the delivery of services, and strengthen the capacity and reforms in the public sector. ADB also focused on infrastructure-related knowledge products and services, and capacity strengthening to provide a longer-term and more sustained approach to building institutions and human capital in ADB-supported sectors. ADB also promoted reforms including in the financial sustainability and management of state-owned enterprises that were crucial for improved service delivery. Recently, ADB has initiated a food security assessment in the regional context and an assessment of Afghanistan’s energy sector.
Financing partnerships enable ADB’s financing partner governments or their agencies, multilateral financing institutions, and private organizations to participate in financing ADB projects. The additional funds may be in the form of loans and grants, technical assistance, and nonsovereign cofinancing.
Cumulative cofinancing commitments in Afghanistan up to August 2021:
Recent restrictions on education and employment of females in Afghanistan have eroded women’s rights. ADB remains concerned about the welfare of the Afghan people and the country’s economic and social development. The bank continues to consult with its shareholders and stakeholders to provide effective support for basic human needs, while continuing to monitor the situation in Afghanistan. ADB’s future support will continue to be closely coordinated with other international donor partners.
Following consultations with its shareholders and the Board of Directors, and using a principles-based approach, ADB could consider further support to the Afghan people for critical food security-related activities, through the provision of urgent food assistance to families facing acute food insecurity and staple crop production packages with a particular focus on ensuring that women benefit. Extended support for delivering essential health services and education could also be explored. Development of sustainable livelihoods is also critical to ensuring economic resilience at the community level. ADB envisages providing assistance to the Afghan people through an off-budget form of financing such as through the United Nations agencies, and in line with ADB’s Fragile and Conflict-Affected Situations and Small Island Developing States Approach.
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