Finland supported Afghanistan with actual development cooperation funds of around EUR 15 million in 2009.
In addition to country- and region-specific development cooperation, the support includes humanitarian aid and NGO cooperation. The total development aid (eligible for ODA) for Afghanistan totalled EUR 18 million in 2009, if civilian crisis management and civilian engagement in crisis management are included.
The Government completed a comprehensive action programme on Afghanistan in April, covering Finland’s support measures in crisis management, development cooperation and humanitarian aid.
The development of good governance is a priority area for Finland. The ARTF fund, which is supported by Finland and administered by the World Bank, pays the salaries of teachers and other officials. In addition, the fund promotes development, administration and the status of women at the village level. Good governance has also been supported by funding the UNDP’s Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan (LOTFA), and by launching a project on developing cooperation between prosecutor and police. The Reconstruction Team, which operates under the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), also included Finnish civilian experts.
Finland supports Marie Stopes International, an organisation that aims to improve the status and reproductive health of women in Afghanistan. The organisation has approximately 200,000 customers every year.
For many years now, Finland has been one of the main financiers of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC).
Afghanistan is one of the 23 developing countries participating in the second-stage evaluation of the implementation of the Paris Declaration. Finland is supporting Afghanistan’s country-specific evaluation as part of this process.
Small-scale enterprises in rural Afghanistan
Reducing rural poverty is a major challenge for Afghanistan. The National Solidarity Program (NSP), supported by Finland and managed by the World Bank, supports the recovery of economic and productive activities in rural areas. The government of Afghanistan grants an aid package of USD 20,000–60,000 to every village in the country. The villages appoint a village council, make plans on reconstruction and projects in a participatory way, and make their accounting publicly available. The government determines the framework and is responsible for the funds, and NGOs implement the programme. The programme is managed and monitored by an international company. Through the contribution from the programme, development councils have been established in over 17,000 villages, and over 27,000 project plans have been approved.
Micro-credit programme creates employment for women
The results of the Microfinance Investment Support Facility for Afghanistan (MISFA) are among the best of the programmes in Afghanistan. So far, the programme has reached over 450,000 customers, of which over 60% are women. One micro-credit has created an average of one-and-a-half jobs, which means that a total of almost 700,000 new jobs have been created in Afghanistan.
The majority of female borrowers establish new small-scale enterprises and enter working life for the first time in their life. The majority of male borrowers expand their already existing small-scale entrepreneurial activities. The Afghan culture encourages enterprise, which makes customer acquisition easy. Approximately 96% of the credits have been paid back.
The operations are built on Afghanistan’s cultural strengths and special characteristics. The programme relies on the Afghans’ entrepreneurial spirit and cooperation with religious leaders. The success of the micro-credit project in creating employment for women shows that most men approve of women participating in working life if this increases the income of the poverty-struck family. The improved economic status of women has also enhanced their social status.