The efforts and assistance of the five bilaterale donors involved, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Ireland, have been significant and decisive for the develoments and achievements in Afghanistan.


The Afghanistan intervention has been a high priority for these donors, and has presented important new challenges for the provision of international aid. Donors have had to respond to an urgent need for humanitarian and reconstruction assistance under continued conflict conditions while also supporting the reunification of the Afghan nation and the creation of a functioning democratic polity.


After the international military operation and up to mid-2004 Afghanistan received close to Euro 3.2 billion in total of humanitarian, reconstruction and development aid. Of this, 25 % - Euro 791 million, came from five bilateral donors: 


Support to education and the return of refugees and internally displaced persons have had the best results. Aid has been unevenly distributed between regions and communities. The Afghan state is very centralised and democracy, development and security have not reached far beyond the borders of Kabul. Thus, because the agricultural sector has not been prioritised, opium production or renewed labour migration to neighbouring countries remain the only available avenue to survival for many rural Afghans.


"Women and women's rights, allegedly an important reason for the intervention, have been forgotten and is still quite desperate, especially outside Kabul. Local people claim that more women commit suicide now than during the Taliban. "This is a sign of how desperate the situation is for many women." says Arne Strand.


The donors' support to Afghanistan was not just another humanitarian operation. It was a multi-dimensional intervention combining the objectives of development co-operation with broad foreign and domestic policy objectives, where the donors - of whom some had taken an active part in ousting the old regime - also aimed at supporting Afghanistan's new start through putting into place a new and democratically elected government and market economy.


Bosnia, Kosovo, Cambodia, East Timor and Iraq have seen similar interventions and more are likely to follow. Evidently such interventions have to cope with novel problems, for which ready answers are as yet scarce. The findings of this evaluation on a range of central issues can serve as lessons learnt in the process of developing adequate answers to the new challenges.


The evaluation was carried out by a consortium led by CMI with Copenhagen Development Consulting and German Association of Development Consultants, contracted by Danida's Evaluation Department on behalf of the five donors.


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