Greater Stability in Northern Afghanistan

Living conditions are difficult in remote northern parts of Afghanistan. Most inhabitants depend on agriculture and animal husbandry for their livelihoods. There are few other jobs with better earning opportunities.


The people in rural northern Afghanistan are also disadvantaged by the fragile security situation and poor infrastructure of the region. Roads, bridges and electricity are lacking, for example. Since the region does not have enough schools, education and training opportunities are also limited.


New and renovated socio-economic infrastructure has improved living conditions in rural northern Afghanistan. There are functioning schools, community centres and markets, as well as passable roads and bridges.

Representatives of the people living in these districts plan development projects and provide support during their implementation. They also cooperate more closely with one another, work more effectively with state institutions and assume responsibility for the operation and maintenance of new infrastructure. This helps improve living conditions, which is an important prerequisite for stability in the country. Improvements that are felt quickly, if possible, are pursued.

Measures and Results

The German Federal Foreign Office is helping Afghanistan’s government to improve the situation in the northern districts of the country. To achieve this, the Stabilisation Programme for Northern Afghanistan is building on the successful National Solidarity Programme (NSP) launched by the Afghan Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD). The NSP developed services and put in place administrative structures in communities in northern Afghanistan in recent years. The focus now is on providing the districts with better infrastructure.

Expanding infrastructure

The programme team is supporting communities in 52 districts in the north of the country in developing infrastructure. Infrastructure projects are selected in consultation with the local population, municipal institutions and representatives of the district administrative councils. One positive side effect is that representatives of the different districts get to know one another. This is often the first step towards more effective networking and successful coordination of future projects.

The districts receive grants for small-scale infrastructure projects. Within the scope of the selection process, the district development councils identify the development priorities for their districts. Projects are then selected on the basis of existing district development plans.

More than 280 school buildings and 40 roads and bridges have so far been built, renovated or extended. Schools have received the equipment they need. Teachers are now better able to use engaging teaching methods. In the new schools, children can learn under appropriate conditions, while the new roads make it easier for people to get to work, the market or government offices.

The construction projects generate jobs and thus income opportunities for local people. Every single project is monitored and inspected by engineers from partner organisations, construction companies, district development councils and monitoring experts. This ensures quality and the transfer of knowledge among all stakeholders.

Training for district councils

Members of the district development councils of 52 district administrations have received training, enhancing their professionalism and their ability to take effective action. Council members receive training in project selection and monitoring, enabling them to better gauge which infrastructure projects are most important for local people. The processes used to realise projects are more efficient and effective as a result of the training. District development council members also receive training in conflict resolution, improving opportunities for women and managing community resources. Almost 19,000 members of district development councils, including around 4,400 women, have taken part in training so far.

Study of the effectiveness of activities

Between 2010 and 2018, an ongoing scientific study assessed whether the Stabilisation Programme was bringing improvements to the region and, if so, to what extent. The study made positive note of the fact that representatives of the district development councils are involved in both selecting and implementing projects. This provides for transparency and ensures that the new infrastructure projects respond to actual needs.

In 2018, the final study concluded that the project measures foster the presence and visibility of the state in remote regions and have a positive impact on the stabilisation of the four provinces.

At a glance

Stabilisation Programme for Northern Afghanistan (SPNA)
Commissioned by:
German Federal Foreign Office
Aga Khan Foundation Afghanistan (AKF-A)
Implementing organisations:
KfW Development Bank, Aga Khan Foundation Afghanistan (AKF-A), Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED), Mercy Corps (MC)
Badakhshan, Baghlan, Kunduz, Takhar
Programme objective:
To stabilise the region by improving socio-economic infrastructure and enabling district development councils to operate effectively and competently
Overall term:
May 2010 – December 2019