A year ago in January - immediately after Hamid Karsai was appointed president of the interim government in December, KfW started its work in Kabul. Offices were rented there on behalf of the German government and the first talks were held with government representatives about the most urgent tasks. "On the first days in Kabul our objective was to identify our working environment before we then began with the actual project work", said management board member Wolfgang Kroh. "We wanted the people to realise as fast as possible that their living conditions would improve."
Already in mid-February the first schools which were constructed and renovated with the aid of KfW and funds from the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) where inaugurated. For many girls and boys this was an important step back to normality. The first street lights were delivered to Kabul and installed already in February. Streets are now illuminated and contribute to safety in Kabul at night.
KfW is currently financing projects in Afghanistan with a total of EUR 70 million from funds of the BMZ. Around EUR 20 million of this sum was disbursed last year alone.
One emphasis in this cooperation is in the field of drinking water and power supply. Only 23% of the population now has access to safe drinking water and only 6% of the population has access to electricity. These two sectors play a key role for the reconstruction of the country's economy as well. Enterprises need both water and electricity for their production. Thus far 26 schools have been rebuilt. Now 60,000 children are being taught daily in various shifts. KfW is also active in the health sector. 13 health stations and clinics have been rebuilt and equipped, securing medical treatment for around 4500 patients per day. So far 47 kilometres of road have been upgraded.
"We have made good progress in a year, a but after 23 years of war and civil war there is still a long road ahead of us before the people's basic needs can be only minimally satisfied", said Wolfgang Kroh. Because of the problematic security situation in many parts of the country KfW's projects thus far are limited to the cities of Kabul and Herat.
In addition to providing clean drinking water and adequate health care, the country's economic development must be promoted intensively. After all, only economic activity can create employment and overcome poverty. "Businesses urgently need a functioning infrastructure so that their production can be secured without interruption and their products can be brought to the market", said Wolfgang Kroh. KfW will therefore support the country in improving the economic infrastructure this year as well, for instance through the rehabilitation of the power network or the upgrading of further roads.
KfW is operating in Afghanistan not only on behalf of the German government but also on a mandate from the EU. Last December it was commissioned with administering the sum of EUR 9 million for the rehabilitation of the power supply in Kabul.