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The Italian Agency for Cooperation and Development has been present in Afghanistan for more than a decade. Initially, it focused on humanitarian assistance and emergency response, through the work of numerous active NGOs on the ground that have distributed thousands of clothes and food kits. Successively, numerous infrastructural projects have been executed allowing thousands of villages to get out of isolation (with roads maintenance, construction of river embankments, small bridges and channels for example) and contributing to the development of an agriculture that went beyond simple subsistence to products commercialization, all these facts leading to the growth of local economies. Italy has also brought its contribution to the Health sector, with the distribution of medicines, the creation of basic health facilities even in remote areas allowing thousands of persons to benefit from minimal care services, along with the construction of rural water networks.

Through the years, and with the slow amelioration of Afghan People’s living conditions, Italy has added to emergency response development interventions, concentrating these interventions, from 2008, in the western part of the country, precisely in the provinces of Herat, Farah, Badghis and Ghor. With both bilateral and multilateral initiatives, Italy’s contribution was focused on two key sectors linked together: infrastructure, agricultural and rural development. The local communities’ development was achieved through the construction of hundreds of connecting roads (currently there are more than 200 km of roads linking inhabited areas of a million person that are built or under construction) or through the execution of hundreds of community projects. Indeed, through the National Solidarity Program, different bilateral programs and the Area Based Development Program (Implemented by UNDP), numerous projects have been financed ranging from small infrastructures to the distribution of seeds and creation of agricultural cooperatives (especially in the dairy sector). In Herat province only, 800 projects were carried out, managed by the community, including 400 wells, irrigation plans, social centers, schools, bridges but also a couple of hydroelectric micro-power plants.

On the reconstruction level, Italy is maintaining a significant role in the context of the international commitment for the decade 2015-2024, called decade of “transformation”, and that sees the support of the Afghan state in the gradual assumption of its responsibility in all areas: from safety to institutional strengthening and economic development. In view of the renewed support of the international community, reiterated at the Brussels Conference (4-5 October 2016), the Afghan government was requested to commit firmly in improving standards of transparency and good governance, reforming the administration and the justice, and in particular to ensure the protection of women. In this framework, a close dialogue is maintained with the government of Kabul and the international partners to ensure that the link between the international aid and the country’s reforms is more concrete.

Italy’s commitment in Afghanistan is continuing with a financial support that, since 2001, has seen the approbation of initiatives of more than 800 million Euros (grants and aid credits) for development cooperation programs, with the obligation to dedicate at least 50% of the funds to the budget and the afghan national programs.

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