Situated in north-western Afghanistan between Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, Balkh Province has a population of over 1.3 million people and is the country’s fourth largest province. The main language spoken is Dari, followed by Pashtu. With some 410,000 residents, the provincial capital Mazar-e Sharif serves as the economic centre for the country’s north.

Balkh has the second highest urbanisation rate of any Afghan province, a significantly greater proportion of its work income comes from the service and craft sectors, and it boasts an above average level of education. The airport in the provincial capital offers daily domestic and international flights and makes a positive contribution to Afghanistan’s economic development.

Despite considerable progress in the areas of infrastructure expansion, education, health care, and energy and water supply, and in terms of the associated economic growth, the province continues to face major challenges. There is a marked difference in living standards between the urban and rural populations. Natural disasters are commonplace in spring and autumn.

The German Cooperation with Afghanistan has been working in Balkh Province for many years. It runs programmes in a range of areas, including education, agricultural development, sustainable economic development, the rule of law, administrative reform, water and energy supply, and health care. The various programmes have helped to effect change and improve local people’s living conditions.

This section provides you with an overview of the German Cooperation with Afghanistan’s activities in Balkh.

Projects in Focus

Citizen-Focused Policing At present, the Afghan National Police (ANP) are not fully able to perform their tasks of enforcing law and order and responding to citizens enquiries. Police work is made difficult not only by the tense security situation in Afghanistan. more
Clean Energy as a Driver of Development A regular electricity supply is something very few Afghans can take for granted. Although the Afghan government is implementing a new master plan for the electricity sector and has a national strategy for renewable energy, still only around a quarter of the population are connected to the power grid. more
Drinking Water for Northern Afghanistan Clean drinking water is a scarce commodity for people living in Afghanistan. Although the supply of clean water has improved, the Afghan population often only has access to polluted drinking water, which frequently results in cholera, typhoid fever and diarrhoeal diseases. more
Electricity transmission for northern Afghanistan Seventy per cent of Afghanistan’s population has to make do without access to the public power grid. Just 1.3 million households in the country are connected to the electricity network, most of them in urban areas. Less than ten per cent of the rural population has access to the power grid, although this is where three-quarters of Afghans live. more
Experts for the Reconstruction of Afghanistan Significant progress has been made in recent years in reconstructing Afghan ministries and administrative systems. Today, Afghan institutions are increasingly managing reconstruction and donor coordination themselves. more
Experts on Mining and Raw Materials Afghanistan is rich in raw materials. But so far the Afghan state has not succeeded in deriving substantial revenue from these mineral resources. One reason for this is the shortage of welltrained technical experts and managers in the mining sector. more
Improving Education for a Better Future for Afghanistan A good education is scarce for children in northern Afghanistan. According to UNICEF, 3.7 million school-age children in Afghanistan do not attend school – 60 per cent of them girls. War and armed conflicts have left deep scars. In many locations, teaching is taking place in tents and dilapidated buildings, even today. more
Improving Health Care Provision for the Afghan People Even though life expectancy in Afghanistan has increased, maternal mortality is still high. According to World Bank figures, there are 396 deaths per 100,000 live births. Infant and child mortality rates are also among the highest in the world. more
Integrating Refugees in Northern Afghanistan The German government is helping the Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations to provide accommodation and basic infrastructure in northern Afghanistan in order to facilitate the integration of internally displaced persons and returnees into host communities. more
Kunduz-Khulm National Highway – Infrastructure Triggers Economic Revival The road network in northern Afghanistan is not adequately developed. The roads are in a poor state of repair. Some have been destroyed by fighting, but most were already unsurfaced dirt or gravel tracks even before. In many areas there is no direct connection between towns, while other rural areas have practically no road links. more
Legal certainty for all citizens The Afghan Constitution, adopted in 2004, guarantees equal rights for men and women. This is also reflected in the international human rights treaties signed by Afghanistan. While many new laws and policy programmes adhere to the spirit of the new legal system, their implementation is slow. more
Sustainable Economic Development and Employment Promotion Economic growth in Afghanistan has been stagnating for years. The difficult security situation in the country and the political uncertainty are having a negative impact on the investment climate and the job market. The many returnees and internally displaced persons further exacerbate the already strained labour market. more
Strengthening Governance Structures for Better Infrastructure The living conditions in northern Afghanistan continue to be poor. The majority of the population has only limited access to basic infrastructure and public services. There is a lack of roads, bridges, clean drinking water, irrigation systems for agriculture, energy supply, flood protection, and schools, among other things. more

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