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The North West Substation in Kabul. Photo: © Sofie Tesson / TAIMANI FILMS / WORLD BANK.

Expert Note

Afghanistan's aid requirements: How much aid is required to sustain a stable state?

This Expert note considers what effects changes in levels of donor support might have on the capacity of the Afghan state to operate effectively.

Published: 12 October 2020

Authors: Tobias Haque, Nigel Roberts

Key messages:

  • Afghanistan is exceptionally dependent on donor grants. In 2018 these amounted to at least $8.6 billion, almost 80% of all public expenditures. Donor have indicated that they are not prepared to sustain this level of external financing. State functionality can be preserved if donor grants are reduced to some $6.6 billion per annum by 2025/6, however - provided the cuts are properly targeted.
  • Donor financial support for security - overwhelmingly a US preserve - could be reduced from $4.8 billion in 2018 to $3.6 billion by 2025/26, and developmental/humanitarian assistance from $3.8 billion in 2018 to $3 billion by 2025/26.
  • Most aid reductions should come from off-budget donor programmes, which account for nearly 70 percent of all donor contributions. Off-budget spending offers less value for money than on-budget spending, and has been more prone to wastage and corruption. To convince donors to move a greater proportion of funding on-budget, though, the Government needs to raise its delivery game and address predatory corruption more convincingly.

There is an accompanying blog that focuses on donor action points - read it here.

About the authors

Tobias Haque

World Bank Lead Economist for Afghanistan

Tobias Haque is the World Bank’s Lead Economist for Afghanistan.

Nigel Roberts

L4P Principal Consultant

Nigel works closely with the ODI team to direct the project and set its strategic agenda. Nigel worked for 30 years in the World Bank, including as an agricultural economist in north and east Africa, Country Manager in Nepal and Ethiopia, and Country Director in Palestine and for the Pacific. He was Co-Director of the World Bank’s 2011 World Development Report on Conflict, Security and Development. Since retiring from the World Bank, he has been working with governments and aid agencies to mitigate the socio-economic effects of prolonged civil war, including in Mindanao, Southern Thailand, Lebanon, Ukraine and Syria. From 2013-16 he was the on-site international delegate to Somalia’s National Financial Governance Committee, and from 2015-18 served as Chairman of the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board for the UN Peacebuilding Fund. Alongside his work for ODI on Afghanistan, Nigel is also currently a Senior Adviser to the US Congress-mandated Afghanistan Peace Process Study Group.