Loading content

Map showing primary routes in Nimroz for the smuggling of fuel, drugs and people. (C) Alcis Holdings Limited 2021.


War gains: how the economic benefits of the conflict are distributed in Afghanistan and the implications for peace. A case study on Nimroz province

Earlier this year, consultants for Lessons for Peace: Afghanistan studied the main sources of funds for different conflict actors in Nimroz. A strategic province in south-west Afghanistan that borders Iran and Pakistan, Nimroz became the first provincial capital to be taken by the insurgents.

In light of the Taliban’s rapid advance, this research reveals the potential importance of control over cross-border trade to the overall balance of power in the country. In doing so, it helps explain how the group have been able to mobilise support from erstwhile opponents through sophisticated pacts and agreements, and provides an indication of the likely role of these bargains, and the economic rents which underpin them, in keeping local powerholders included in the emerging settlement.

The report annex provides a detailed technical analysis explaining how revenues were calculated and mapped.

Published: 13 August 2021

Authors: Graeme Smith, David Mansfield

About the authors

Graeme Smith

Research Consultant

Graeme Smith is an author and consultant with nine years of on-the-ground experience in Afghanistan. His recent clients included the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), the Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution (NOREF), and the International Crisis Group (ICG). From 2015 to 2018 he served as a Political Affairs Officer for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. His earlier career as a journalist earned him several awards, including the Michener Award for public service granted annually by the Governor General of Canada. He also won an Emmy Award in 2009, for a video series about the Taliban. His bestselling book, The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War In Afghanistan, was published in Canada (2013), the United States (2014), and France (2015). He co-wrote a documentary, “Ghosts of Afghanistan,” which debuts in English, French, and German in 2021.

David Mansfield

Research Consultant

David is an independent consultant. David has been conducting research on illicit economies in Afghanistan since 1997. David has a PhD in development studies and is the author of "A State Built on Sand: How opium undermined Afghanistan", and produced more than 75 research-based products on illicit economies and rural livelihoods in Afghanistan, many for the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit working in partnership with Alcis and OSDR.