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12 February 2017, Kabul, Afghanistan – For 24-year-old Nabila, becoming a police officer was not only a childhood dream but a sacred duty. This was something she felt she had to do after witnessing the suffering of women in her community.
But it was not an easy decision for the mother of a 6-year-old in a town where only two women had ever been brave enough to join the police force. She had to go up against neighbors who said women police were “despicable” and “corrupting the minds of other girls”.
“The main reason I wanted to become a policewoman is because in Afghanistan women suffer a lot and cannot defend their rights,” said Nabila adding that only women can really understand the problems of other women.
Daikundi, 05 Feb 2017 — Nili, the capital city of Daikundi province has always had a market, but no one used it much because it was filthy and difficult to reach. The people requested something be done and so the Government of Afghanistan and UNDP provided roads, toilets, drinking water and a landfill site for waste. Now people can get to the market, spend a longer time there, and the whole place is cleaner and healthier. This not only improves people’s daily quality of life, but also boosts the economy.
This year, UNDP’s Afghanistan Human Development Report focusses on how to make sure all Afghans benefit from the estimated US$1 trillion or more of mineral wealth lying underground.
With declines likely in foreign aid over the coming years, the huge potential of the extractive industry is more important than ever. But investment is held back by instability, conflict, corruption, terrorism and lack of capacity.
Some provinces in Afghanistan are famous for their fruit. In Kandahar, it’s the pomegranates; in Parwan, the grapes.
Now Takhar is earning its own place on these lists, with superb pomegranates and nashpati pears – thanks to support from UNDP that has allowed local farmers to boost the quality and size of harvests and encouraged cross-border trade.
Jawzari is an area of great beauty and environmental significance in Bamyan province.
But it is threatened by floods and avalanches.
Since 2013, UNDP has helped local communities plant trees and set up nurseries, which protect against floods and provide new sources of income.
We have also taught villagers and schoolchildren how to restore damaged pastureland and graze animals in a way that does not destroy the environment.
Gulsoom Kohistani was born in Iran and in her early teens when her family decided to return to Afghanistan after two decades of exile.
Along with hundreds of other families, Gulsoom’s family settled in Aliabad – a township 20 kilometers northeast of Balkh’s Mazar-e-Sharif. For most of them, the ongoing insurgency meant it was too dangerous to return to their original homes. They had to start new lives from scratch.
For the first few years, Gulsoom and her neighbors wove carpets. But the work was hard and the income small. So UNDP provided equipment and training for 47 of the women to set up a small business producing pickles, spices, jams and spaghetti.
Everyone in Afghanistan loves flying kits – so what better way to get people talking about development than by holding a development-themed kite festival?
Last month, UNDP set out with 500 kites to the top of Kabul’s Wazir Akbar Khan hill, and we invited all of Kabul to join us. Around 600 local people came along – men, women and children – to spend a day in sunshine flying kites decorated with the logos of the Sustainable Development Goals.
UNDP and the Afghan Red Crescent Society organized a volleyball tournament for young women at Kabul University this month - part of the global 16 Days of Activism campaign against gender violence.
Women and girls are often denied the chance to play sport in Afghanistan, but taking away these opportunities is just another form of violence. Events like this help to overcome social taboos so that everyone one can live life to the full.
1 December 2016, Kabul – Edris is a young man living in Kabul. Last year, he broke his nose trying to break up a fight, but when he went to hospital, doctors found out he had HIV and refused to treat him.
“It really disappointed me,” he says. “Not just the bad treatment, but because I know that other people with HIV also run into the same kind of discrimination.”
Edris knows this because he’s seen it. Just four months before, one of his friends died of appendicitis because doctors weren’t willing to operate.
At the fifth Responsible Business Forum, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today called on business leaders to take a greater role in the new development era in order to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This Forum, opened in Singapore by UNDP and Global Initiatives, aims to address a sea change in the nature of development funding by creating a new partnership for sustainable development.
While foreign funding (Official Development Assistance) is still essential for the development system, it now accounts for 0.7 percent of total financial flows in Asia-Pacific (down from 13.5 percent in 1990), while domestic public and private finance accounts for 89 percent, according to a UNDP report launched last month.
It is one year since every country in the world signed up to the Sustainable Development Goals.
They form a blueprint for addressing the most significant challenges facing our planet and its people.
Challenges like climate change.
This is likely to be the hottest year on record and here in Asia, climate change is a cause of the natural disasters that have claimed half a million lives in the last decade.
Challenges like inequality, which has been growing for four-fifths of Asia-Pacific’s population over the last 20 years.
Challenges brought on by the accelerating process of ageing, which will make it harder for many Asian states to provide basic services to their people.
The 17 SDGs will address these challenges and other interlinked issues, including education, hunger and security.
But governments cannot implement this blueprint on their own. Nor can the UN and other development organizations.
Jalalabad, November 2016 – On a scorching July afternoon several years ago, a farmer rushed into a laboratory in downtown Jalalabad with his two-year-old son, Sabawoon, fainting in his arms. “I’m here to test him for malaria!” he blurted out.
Sabawoon had already been sick for two months in his rural village, but no one knew what was wrong. Even though Afghanistan has the fourth-largest malaria burden outside of sub-Saharan Africa, diagnostic facilities were extremely limited. This laboratory in Jalalabad was the only place in the whole province with a track record of diagnosing the most severe form of malaria. Just one sharp-eyed technician and his ageing microscope meant the difference between diagnosis and disaster.
When Sabawoon’s doctors got the result – positive for a severe strain of malaria – they were strangely relieved, because now they knew what to do. With the right treatment, Sabawoon was soon out of a coma and recovered within a week.
Masooma and her friends in Bamyan started skiing in 2012. But village gossip made it hard for them to continue.
Then local mullah, Abdul Rahman Redwani, started preaching on women’s rights, changing people’s minds and getting the girls back on the slopes.
Watch the video to see how this UNDP programme is helping young women make the most of their lives.
23 October 2016, Jalalabad City, Nangarhar – In a very ordinary hostel in Jalalabad, something extraordinary is going on. A young woman is sitting on her hostel bed, bent over a textbook.
This is Abida and she is training to be a nurse in a country where most women haven’t even finished primary school.
Abida has just finished a long day of classwork and on-the-job training. She’s exhausted, but determined to carry on because nurses are hard to find in her home village, more than 100 kilometres away in Nuristan. In this isolated province, woman commonly die because basic healthcare is unavailable – either because there are no doctors or because women are not allowed to be treated by a man. Thinking about this situation keeps Abida going when her eyes are heavy and her brain numb.
Human security remains Afghanistan’s major challenge to development. However, Afghans are more optimistic about their future than in the past. You can see that optimism in our bustling, energetic cities.
UNDP supports the people of Afghanistan as they face old challenges and work to achieve the new Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
See these 17 inspiring ways Afghans are improving their cities and contributing to the SDGs, with a little help from UNDP.
Afghanistan is one of the most vulnerable countries for climate change; even here, in beautiful, mountainous Panjshir province.
The Panjshir valley starts about 2 hours’ drive from Kabul and winds north into the Hindu Kush. Isolated and poor, its 140,000 people, mostly farmers, get by on a string of small-scale farms by the side of the river or hacked into the mountainsides. Their lives have always been hard, but they are made even more difficult by desertification and regular floods.
Bamyan, 9 October 2016 – Bamyan, in central Afghanistan, is a province of snow-capped mountains and difficult travel. But it’s not just the rugged terrain that keeps girls from going to school and taking part in sports. The mind also has mountains that girls need to climb if they want to get equal treatment.
“At first, the villagers were really annoying, telling me that a girl in sports clothes is against Islam and our culture,” says 18-year-old Masooma, who just wanted to go skiing. “They said, ‘Girls don’t have the right to ski – only boys can do sport. Girls are born to learn household chores, like cooking and cleaning.’”
21 September 2016, Dara Noor, Jalalabad – For most rural Afghans, having a cup of tea, or a bath, or a warm house means you have to cut down some trees. With mains power covering only 35% of the countryside, wood remains the primary source of heat and fuel.
15 August 2016, Jalalabad – The Gamberi Desert, on the outskirts of Jalalabad, is home to 1,000 families. It’s a land of extremes: harsh, dry, sandy, and hot, making life a struggle for the people who live there.
Many years ago, it was different. The Gamberi Desert was a forest of indigenous bushes that held the soil together and allowed life to grow. But decades of conflict and poverty forced communities to cut down the bushes and use the wood cooking and heating. Deforestation led to desertification, sand storms and the erosion of agricultural fields.
6 September 2016 – Haoliang Xu, UNDP Administrator and Chair of the UN Development Group, has concluded a five-day visit to Afghanistan where he met with the CEO Abdullah Abdullah, other senior government officials, development partners, UNDP Staff, and ongoing UNDP projects.
September 5 2016, Kabul – Yesterday, on the occasion of the visit to Kabul of UNDP Regional Director in Asia and the Pacific, Mr. Haoliang Xu, the Ministry of Economy (MoEC) of the Government of Afghanistan hosted a roundtable discussion on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
August 2016, Kabul – This week, UNDP and the Australian Government kicked off several new projects to improve life and job prospects for the 300 residents of Alice Ghan, a camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) about an hour’s drive from Kabul.
Nangarhar University, on the outskirts of Jalalabad, is the second largest University in Afghanistan. Covering a whopping 40 hectares of land and serving 15,000 students, its tree-lined avenues stretch on for miles. But at night, they are pitch black, leaving both students and professors feeling unsafe in the dark. Public spaces are empty and no one spends much time outside.
25 July 2016, Mazar-e-Sharif – Last week, we were in Mazar-e-Sharif, where, thanks to generous support from the Republic of Korea, UNDP has helped to improve local governance and support local women as they build successful businesses.
Kabul, 10 July 2016 – Afghanistan is one of the most challenging countries in the world to be a woman – and for a woman to get an decent education. According to World Bank data, net enrollment at the end of the Taliban regime in 2001 was 43% for boys but a miserable 3% for girls.
In March 2014, UNDP Afghanistan made a 2-minute video called “Choices”. The short film captures how UNDP’s programmes have given more options for a better quality of life to the Afghan people.
The film was mostly shot in the scenic valley of Panjshir, about two hours drive north of Kabul. Here, in Ghozo Omerz village, UNDP has built a 40-meter bridge built that’s used by 120 families.
Our focus is helping Afghanistan build and share solutions to the challenges of: