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Afghanistan - Second to fourth periodic reports submitted by States parties [2009] UNCESCRSPR 9; E/C.12/AFG/2-4 (9 July 2009)



Economic and Social
9 July 2009
Original: ENGLISH

Substantive session of 2010


Second to fourth periodic reports submitted by States parties
under articles 16 and 17 of the Covenant


[6 August 2007]


Paragraphs Page

List of abbreviations 6




THE COVENANT 10 - 22 9


Article 6 23 - 37 12

Article 7 38 - 47 17

Article 8 48 - 50 20

Article 9 51 - 57 21

Article 10 58 - 70 24

Article 11 71 - 99 27

Article 12 100 - 167 36

Article 13 168 - 200 63

Article 14 201 83

Article 15 202 - 213 83

List of tables

1. List of ILO Conventions ratified by Afghanistan 13

2. Number of male and female trainees in 2005-2007 15

3. Monthly salary for public construction workers 18

4. Number of trade unions and number of female and male members (approx.) 20

5. Number of persons/families with martyrs and persons with disabilities

by province 22

6. GDP and per capita income 2002-2006 28

CONTENTS (continued)


7. GDP composition by sector (per cent) 29

8. Consumption, savings, and investment 1381-1383 (2002/2003-2004/2005)

(per cent of GDP) 29

9. Number/type of completed cases related to land disputes in recent years 35

10. Information on some key indicators 37

11. Number of health facilities by province 39

12. Independent study on mental health situation 41

13. Summary of the status of mental health services (per 100,000 inhabitants) 42

14. Public spending on health 42

15. Main donors and funds for basic package of health services 43

16. Definition of safe and unsafe water 44

17. Households with access to safe drinking water 44

18. Availability of toilet facilities in households 45

19. Access to sanitary toilets 45

20. Percentage of children aged 12-23 months who received specific vaccinations

at any time before the survey and percentage of children with a health card,

by wealth index and time to facility 47

21. Life expectancy at birth 48

22. Access to health-care facilities in rural areas 48

23. Percentage of health-care facilities with at least one

female doctor/nurse/midwife 49

24. Proportion of women using skilled antenatal care, skilled birth attendance and institutional deliveries by background characteristics 49

25. Proportion of geographic areas covered by non-State providers based on the

contracting-out initiative 54

CONTENTS (continued)


26. Expected results by 2013 for the maintenance and extension of the Primary

Health-Care (PHC) programme 56

27. Target results for the prevention of communicable diseases and malnutrition

by 2013 58

28. Target results for hospital services by 2013 60

29. Male and female personnel in the capital and provinces 61

30. Number of general schools by province 67

31. General education schools by number of shifts 68

32. Number of Islamic schools and students by province 68

33. Number of male and female primary and secondary schools for general

education by province 69

34. Gross enrolment ratio 72

35. Net enrolment ratio 72

36. Number of male and female teachers by province 78

37. Summary of male and female teachers in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,

general education, Islamic education, teacher training, and technical and

vocational training 79

38. Number of male teachers and administrative staff by level of education 80

39. Number of female teachers and administrative staff by level of education 80

40. Number of teachers vocational education trainings and students by province 81

41. Number of teacher training centres and students by province 82

42. Private secondary schools registered at the Ministry of Education 83

43. Number of publications in Kabul and provinces 84

CONTENTS (continued)


List of figures

1. Source of care for people sick in the last month by income quintile 40

2. Trends in under-five mortality rate from 1960 to 2003 43

3. Proportion of prenatal care coverage according to walking distance to

health-care facilities 51

4. Outpatient visits per capita per year in the most secure province (Sar-e-Pol) and

insecure province (Helmand) from January 2004 (1383) to March 2006 (1385) 52

5. Ministry of Public Health budget status 62

6. General education student population by grade and gender 71

7. Islamic education student population by grade and gender 71

List of Abbreviations

AHS Afghan Household Survey

AIHRC Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission

ANDS Afghan National Development Strategy

BHS Basic Health Centres

BPHS Basic Package of Health Services

CBHC Community-Based Health Care

CHC Comprehensive Health Centres

CSO Central Statistics Office

DDR Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration

DH District Hospitals

EC European Commission

EPHS Essential Package of Hospital Services

EPI Expanded Programme Immunization

ESC Employment Service Centre

EU European Union

FAO Food and Agriculture Organization

GCMU Grant and Contract Management Unit

HMIS Health Management Information System

HP Health Posts

IARCSC Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission

ICOMOS International Council on Monuments and Sites

ILO International Labour Organization

IMF International Monetary Fund

JHU John Hopkins University

MAIL Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation ad Livestock

MICS Multi Indicator Cluster Survey

MICT Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism

MoE Ministry of Education

MoHE Ministry of High Education

MoLSAMD Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled

MoPH Ministry of Public Health

MOWA Ministry of Women Affairs

MUDH Ministry of Urban Development and Housing

NHP National Health Policy

NHS National Health Strategy

NRVA National Risk and Vulnerability Assessment

NSDP National Skills Development Programme

NSP National Solidarity Programme

SAARC South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation

STI Sexually Transmitted Infections

TTC Teacher Training Centres

TVET Teachers’ Vocational Education Training

UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

UNICEF United Nations Children’s Fund

UNIDROIT The International Institute for the Unification of Private Law

UNMACA United Nations Mine Action Centre for Afghanistan

VTC Vocational Training Centre

WFP World Food Programme

WHO World Health Organization


1. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1983. Its initial report concerning articles 1 to 15 was submitted to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1990, pursuant to articles 16 and 17 of the Covenant. The Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights considered the initial report of Afghanistan on the implementation of the International Covenant at its 2nd, 4th to 6th and 8th meetings, held from 25 to 28 November 1991 (E/C.12/1991/SR.2, 4-6, and 8). The submission of the second periodic report was delayed until now due to the long turmoil, political struggles, and security instability suffered by Afghanistan.

2. The present report was prepared by the Office of Human Rights and Women’s International Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Afghanistan in consultation with various line ministries.

3. The present report contains the months and years according to the solar calendar used in Afghanistan. The Afghan New Year began on 1 Hamal, which is the equivalent of 21 March in the western calendar. For example, 1 Hamal 1386 is 21 March 2007.

4. Due to the situation in the country, data, statistics, and numbers presented in this report are sometimes not accurate. For example, census was not conducted for more than three decades in Afghanistan. Certain statistical information indicated in the present report is the best estimate by the Government. It should also be mentioned that “urban” is defined as the capitals of 34 provinces in addition to Kabul, versus to “rural” meaning the rest of the country, unless specifically indicated in the same paragraph.


5. In 2001, through Decree No. 66, Afghanistan abolished all regulations, decrees, and laws contrary to Bonn Agreement. The Constitution of Afghanistan was proclaimed in 2004. In its preamble, it obliges the people of Afghanistan observe the United Nations Charter as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It also ensures the formation of a civil society without oppression, atrocity, discrimination or violence, based on the rule of law, social justice, protection of integrity and human rights, and attaining freedom and fundamental rights among people.

6. Article 75 of the Constitution of Afghanistan stipulates that the Government has a duty to devise and implement social, cultural, economic, and technological development programmes. Since the London Conference in 2006, the Government has developed the Afghan National Development Strategy (ANDS) which consists of three broad pillars: (a) security, (b) governance, the rule of Law, and human rights, (c) Economic and Social Development. Under three pillars, there are five cross-cutting issues: gender, counter-narcotics, regional cooperation, anti-corruption, and the environment. Within the third pillar, there are six sectors relevant to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: (a) infrastructure and natural resources; (b) education; (c) health; (d) agriculture and rural development; (e) social protection; (f) economic governance and private sector development. It is important to mention that ANDS also addresses human rights treaty reporting, requiring the Government of Afghanistan to strengthen its capacity to comply with and report on its human rights treaty obligations by 2010.

7. The Government recognizes that grave poverty remains a great concern throughout the country and that poverty reduction is an urgent matter. The Government of Afghanistan signed the Millennium Declaration and defined the following nine Afghan Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to be achieved by 2020:

Goal One: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

Goal Two: Achieve universal primary education

Goal Three: Promote gender equality and empower women

Goal Four: Reduce child mortality

Goal Five: Improve maternal health

Goal Six: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

Goal Seven: Ensure environmental sustainability

Goal Eight: Develop a global partnership for development

Goal Nine: Enhance security

8. The Government of Afghanistan is also committed to regional approaches to development. Since 2007, Afghanistan has been a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Afghanistan is a signatory to the SAARC Social Charter. Through the Charter, Afghanistan has been committed itself to taking initiatives at national as well as regional levels for achieving the specific objectives contained in the Social Charter, including poverty eradication, population stabilization, empowerment of women, youth mobilization, human resource development, promotion of health and nutrition, and protection of children. Following the requirements of the Charter, the Government reviews the progress made in the country, and modifies the existing National Plan of Action in order to implement programmes and projects through a transparent and broad-based participatory process.

9. The Government of Afghanistan has also demonstrated its dedication to human rights through its signature, accession and ratification of human rights treaties and its commitment to fulfilling its reporting obligations under these treaties, thus making best efforts to be accountable for the human rights situation of its population. The level of implementation of economic, social, and cultural rights throughout the country indicated in this report demonstrates real progress achieved by the Government of Afghanistan since 2002 - in spite of extremely difficult circumstances facing the country. Afghanistan, and the Afghan people, continue to face great challenges to full realization of economic, social and cultural rights, not least among them the extremely difficult security situation in much of the country, but the Government of Afghanistan has made, and continues to make clear its deep commitment to continued progress in extending these rights to people in all parts of the country and all walks of life.


Right to self-determination

10. Article 9 of the Afghan Constitution provides that, “Mines and other subterranean resources as well as historical relics shall be the property of the State. Protection, management and proper utilization of public properties as well as natural resources shall be regulated by law.” The Afghan Parliament has also legislated the management of natural resources through the Law on Minerals of 2005, and Law on Petroleum and Gas of 2006.

11. These laws provide that ownership of minerals, petroleum and gas located within Afghanistan’s territory belong to the Afghan Government, even including gas and petroleum fields discovered on private property. The Ministry of Mines and Industries authorizes issuance of license for development. Conditions of eligibility for obtaining a license exclude certain individuals, including members of Parliament, magistrates, senior government officials, especially officers of the Ministries of National Defence and Interior.

Status and rights of foreigners

12. Article 57 of the Constitution guarantees the rights and liberties of foreign citizens in Afghanistan. Foreign citizens are obliged to respect Afghan law except as limited by international law. For foreign nationals, a limitation is imposed on the right of ownership of immovable property in Afghanistan. According to article 41 of the Constitution, foreign nationals do not possess the right of ownership of immovable property in Afghanistan, with exceptions only for the sale of estates to diplomatic missions of foreign countries or to international organizations of which Afghanistan is a member. Lease of immovable property for the purpose of capital investment can be permitted for foreigners in accordance with the Law on Foreign and Domestic Private Investment in Afghanistan of 2002, and the Law on Private Investment of 2005.

Provisions prohibiting discrimination in domestic law

13. Article 22 of the Constitutions specifically prohibits any kind of discrimination and distinction between citizens of Afghanistan. The citizens of Afghanistan, men and women, have equal rights and duties before the law. Article 4 explains that the nation of Afghanistan is composed of all individuals who possess Afghan citizenship, including members of the Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Turkman, Baluch, Pachaie, Nuristani, Aymaq, Arab, Qirghiz, Qisilbash, Gujur, Brahwui, and other tribes. The Government is obligated to create a prosperous and progressive society based on social justice, preservation of human dignity, protection of human rights, realization of democracy, and attainment of national unity, as well as equality between all people and tribes and balanced development of all areas of the country, pursuant to article 6 of the Constitution.

14. Afghanistan has a particularly strong respect for linguistic diversity. In addition to Dari and Pashto, the two official national languages, all existing languages in the country, including Uzbeki, Turkmani, Baluchi, Pachaie, Nuristani, Pamiri, and others are considered to be a third official language in the areas where they are spoken by a majority of the population. Usage of these languages is freely permitted in any press publications and mass media (art. 16). Article 43 of the Constitution gives children the right to learn in their mother tongue in areas inhabited by linguistic minorities. In addition, the Constitution ensures the application of both Hanafi (Sunni) jurisprudence and Shia jurisprudence, in case there are no provisions in the Constitution or other laws to apply (arts. 130 and 131).

15. The Government of Afghanistan also commits itself to facilitate reintegration of Afghan refugees, returned mainly from Iran and Pakistan while facing tremendous challenges by growing number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) due to deteriorating security situation in the country. The number of returnees has reached over two millions and IDPs for approximately 12,000. The Government of Afghanistan promotes voluntary return of all remaining refugees

while providing them for legal and other social assistance for their reintegration in Afghan society, especially for education and housing without any discrimination. The Decree No. 297 of the President of Interim Administration about Respectful Repatriation of Refugees enforced to protect the rights of returnees. The Government of Afghanistan has also ratified the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees in 2006. The Government has negotiated the extension of Tripartite Agreement on voluntary repatriation with Pakistan (until the end of 2009) and Iran (until the end of 2008) respectively, and with UNHCR. In addition, in consultation with the ILO and IOM offices, the Government addresses to receiving countries the difference between economic and other forms of migration, and to distinguish economic migrants legally resided in these countries from the process of refugee return to Afghanistan.

Development assistance

16. Article 137 stipulates that the Government, while preserving the authority and responsibilities of central government, shall transfer necessary powers, in accordance with the law, to local administrations in order to accelerate and improve economic, social, and cultural matters, and foster peoples’ participation in developing national decision-making. The Government makes continuous efforts to include community voices in the design of development programmes and projects, including close contacts with community jirga/shura, (traditional assemblies).

17. Under the Goal Eight of the MDGs, the Government tries to build sustainability in its development process, with the support of foreign assistance. Based on its commitment to good governance, development and eradication of poverty, it develops an open, rules-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system.

Public interests

18. The Constitution clarifies that liberty has no limits except as required to preserve others’ freedom and the public interests (art. 24). In addition, article 59 stipulates that no individual shall be allowed to manipulate the rights and liberties enshrined in this Constitution and act against independence, territorial integrity, sovereignty, or national unity.

19. Chapter Nine of the Constitution describes protection of independence and national life under state emergency. The President can, after approval by the Presidents of the National Assembly as well as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, suspend the enforcement of several constitutional rights, including freedom of association, freedom of confidentiality of individual communications, and the prohibition on searches of private residences. Article 146 of the Constitution, however, ensures that the Constitution shall not be amended during the state of emergency.

Measures for the realization of a gender-equal society

20. The Government of Afghanistan is making continuous efforts to move toward a genderequal society. The Government is committed to ensuring that all new legislation is

compatible with gender equality, as well as amending existing legislation to ensure equality among women and men. For example, the new Labour Law prescribes the retirement age for both women and men at 65. (During the Taliban regime, women were not allowed to work in any work places.) Furthermore, the Ministry of Women Affairs (MOWA) was established since 2001. MOWA has primary responsibility for improving the rights of woman in Afghanistan. The Government is firmly committed to mainstreaming gender issues across the country to help women realize equal participation and full involvement in Afghanistan's economic, social and cultural development. However, it takes far more number of years to reach gender-equal society in Afghanistan. It is due to many years of war and traditional society in Afghanistan as well as government’s financial restrictions, gaps between policies and practices, and lack of strong civil society protecting and promoting women’s rights.

21. In addition to article 22 of the Constitution, which specifically provides equal rights and duties for man and women, there are affirmative Constitutional steps for promoting the rights of women. For example, article 83 of the Constitution ensures that at least two females shall be elected members of the House of People from each province. Following the 2005 elections, there are 68 female members (27 per cent) in the House of People (lower house). As for the House of Elders (upper house), the President appoints one-third of the members of this house and shall appoint a minimum of fifty per cent women while doing so, according to article 84. There are currently 21 female members (20 per cent) in the House of Elders. Overall the National Assembly has 25 per cent female representation across both upper and lower houses. Furthermore, one of the Afghan MDG target is an increase of female participation in elected and appointed bodies at all levels of governance to 30 per cent by 2020.

22. In Justice Sector, however, level of participation of women is still facing challenges. Female staff consists only 6.4 per cent of the total staff at the Ministry of Justice. According to the Personnel Department of the Supreme Court, 74 female judges, including 54 in Primary Courts, nine in Court of Appeals, and three in Supreme Court, in total of 1,356 judges are currently registered as of January 2008 (Three female judges currently working in Supreme Court represent as “judicial advisors” supporting the work of “Supreme Court judges”). Thus, female representation is only 5.4 per cent in courts. As for prosecutors, there are 103 female prosecutors among 1,085 in total, thus contributing to 9.4 per cent of prosecution work according to the Office of Attorney General. In police force, female uniform officers comprise 3.1 per cent of the total police force (1,946 among 61,544 personnel in total). The present report will discuss the level of women's participation in other sectors, such as education and labour, in the following sections.


Article 6

Basic data related to employment

23. The Government of Afghanistan has ratified 15 ILO Conventions. The table below shows the reporting status of Afghanistan of each Convention.

Table 1
List of ILO Conventions ratified by Afghanistan

Date of ratification
Reporting status (since 2004)
Night Work (Women) Convention, 1919
12 June 1939
White Lead (Painting) Convention, 1921
12 June 1939
Weekly Rest (Industry) Convention, 1921
12 June 1939
Not submitted
Night Work (Women) Convention (Revised), 1934
12 June 1939
Underground Work (Women) Convention, 1935
14 May 1937
Protection of Wages Convention, 1949
7 January 1957
Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951
22 August 1969
Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957
16 May 1963
Weekly Rest (Commerce and Offices) Convention, 1957
16May 1963
Not submitted
Discrimination (Employment and Occupation)
Convention, 1958
1 October 1969
Dock Work Convention, 1973
16 May 1979
Occupational Cancer Convention, 1974
16 May 1979
Paid Educational Leave Convention, 1974
16 May 1979
Rural Workers’ Organizations Convention, 1975
16 May 1979
Human Resources Development Convention, 1975
16 May 1979

Source: ILO and Afghanistan Labor Standard (2007)/MoLSAMD.

24. In reference to the right to work, specific treaty information is also contained in the State report on the ILO Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention. On the issue of equal rights in the labour sector, Afghanistan has also ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

25. The unemployment rate in Afghanistan is estimated based on a Government survey, to be 33 per cent. The Government continues to make efforts to pursue economic development by reducing poverty and unemployment, with special attention to the needs of women and youth. Since its establishment of the interim government, Afghanistan has specified target areas in the labour and social affairs sector, including skills development in general, the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) Programme, as well as protection of martyrs and people with disabilities. In particular, the DDR programme provides vocational programmes, and creates jobs for ex-combatants, including those who are disabled. In recent years, the Government has also worked to assist with high numbers of IDPs and returnees, to obtain decent work.

26. After two decades of war, the level of technical and professional skills among the Afghan population remains low, with few professional and trained workers. The Government of Afghanistan recognizes that slow economic growth and social development are a consequence of the low level of professional skills in the country. Therefore, in addition to creating new employment opportunities, the Government has focused its agenda on providing vocational training programmes developed under the National Skills Development Programme (NSDP)

since 2005. Through skills development, the Government builds the capacity of the Afghan people to develop the country. It should also be mentioned that a large number of foreign workers from neighboring countries, such as from Pakistan, are currently employed in Afghanistan primarily in production and construction industries. Companies often recruit foreign workers rather than Afghans due to the perception that Afghans are low-skilled workers. In 2005-2007, 22,635 work permits were issued for foreign nationals.

Skills development

27. The aforementioned NSDP, originally announced by the President at the Berlin Conference in 2004 entails three major sub-programmes, including:

(a) Skills development through pilot projects to train trainers;

(b) Institutional and human capacity building of Vocational Training Centres (VTC);

(c) Creation of a facilitating environment, such as developing Labor Market Information Collection and Analysis capacity at the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled (MoLSAMD) in 2008, and registering/accrediting of VET providers.

28. The NSDP also involves MoLSAMD, Department of Technical and Vocational Education of the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Higher Education. NGO and private sector actors also play a major role in the NSDP as they have been providing a wide range of vocational training courses.

29. There are approximately 15,000 students enrolled in 44 vocational schools in the country. In addition, the Skills Development Department of the MoLSAMD provides short-term vocational training programmes. The MoLSAMD has 18 new training centres covering mainly provincial urban areas. NGOs and private sector actors also provide assistance for construction of VTCs offering training courses, mainly English and computers. The Government of Afghanistan has worked to ensure that donor assistance is used effectively to build Afghan human capacity; the following infrastructural and vocational training projects were implemented in cooperation with foreign donors:

(a) Construction and providing equipment for a vocational and technical training centre in Afshar-e Silo area, Kabul City, in cooperation with the Republic of Korea;

(b) Construction and providing equipment for eight technical and vocational training centres in Kabul, Balkh, Konduz, Jawzjan, Herat, Nandagarhar, Bamyan, and Paktia provinces in cooperation with Japan and Belgium;

(c) Construction of a vocational and technical training centre in Kandahar, in cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Iran;

(d) Construction of four vocational and technical training centres in Kabul, Kandahar, Balkh, and Fariab provinces, in cooperation with the World Bank;

(e) Construction and providing equipment for a vocational and technical training centre in Nimroz funded through the State budget of Afghanistan;

(f) Construction and providing equipment for vocational and technical training centres in Herat and Farah in cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Iran;

(g) Providing professional training programmes in Basir in cooperation with the Iranian NGO;

(h) Implementation of food-for-work projects both in the capital and provinces, especially for the returnees from Iran and Pakistan;

(i) Providing English language and computer training courses for new graduates from remote and underdeveloped provinces;

(j) Establishment of vocational and technical training departments in each province in addition to the aforementioned provincial training centres. The departments have been allocated budget and can organize several training workshops;

(k) Establishment of an “ozone centre” to provide technical training for repairing air conditioners for the purpose of environmental protection; and

(l) Establishment of eleven Employment Service Centres (ESC) and an ESC website for job seekers, in cooperation with ILO and UNDP. The website can be viewed at

30. In 2006, for example, training was provided to a total of 29,844 trainees, including 10,527 female trainees in both the capital and provinces. In addition to the activities described above, the Department of Skill Development of the MoLSAMD has launched a national programme on skill and capacity building through provincial offices. A total of 10,000 people have received vocational and technical training through these offices, 35 per cent of them women. Within three years, the number of trainees, including female trainees, has increased, by a huge margin, as indicated below.

Table 2
Number of male and female trainees in 2005-2007

2005 (1384)
3 180
4 106
2006 (1385)
19 317
10 527
29 844
2007 (1386)
11 629
19 359
30 988

Source: MoLSAMD.

31. The Government of Afghanistan has also taken steps to provide job opportunities for those who have completed the training programmes. For example, for 419 graduates from the aforementioned Korea-funded vocational training centre in Kabul, the Government was able to provide over 500 job opportunities in public and private sectors.

32. In addition, the aforementioned ESCs in eleven provinces play an important role in helping job seekers to find job opportunities. As of 2007, the ESCs have registered over 13,566 job applicants and 9,124 employers, provided 3,357 jobs for job applicants, and established a technical committee to assess the employment situation in the country and to work on the national employment strategy.

Measures to guarantee the right to work

33. The new Labor Law introduced in 2007 contains comprehensive provisions enforcing workers’ rights. The new law provides for not only the right to work, workers’ rights, labour rules and standards, but also vocational training and development of professional skills in Chapter Six. In addition, Chapter Eleven offers detailed protection of rights of female and youth workers. The law was signed by the President in February 2007 and has been in force since then. In January 2008, it retuned to the National Assembly and is currently being evaluated for any necessary amendments.

34. Article 48 of the Constitution specifies that working hours, paid holidays, employment and employee rights, and related matters are regulated by the relevant laws. Choice of occupation and craft shall be free within bounds of the law. In accordance with article 10 of the Constitution, the Government of Afghanistan encourages private capital investments and enterprises based on the market economy, and guarantees their protection. According to the ANDS, the private sector is considered to be the main source of the economic growth and creation of employment, including agriculture, small and medium enterprises and the services sector with the participation of both the domestic and foreign private sector.

35. The government manages the implementation of the Labor Law as it applies to foreign citizens working in government or non-government organizations or in private sector or joint ventures in Afghanistan (art. 6). Between 2005 and 2007, 22,535 foreigners were issued working permits to work in the country. The government also sends Afghan labourers abroad in order to prevent unemployment and achieving better income (art. 150), according to the Regulation on Sending Workers outside the Country of 2004.

36. Concerning the prohibition against any types of discrimination related to employment, article 9 of the Labor Law states:

(a) Any types of discrimination is prohibited in recruitment, payment of salaries or other privileges, selection of occupation, profession, skill and specialty, the right of education and social entitlement;

(b) Women are entitled to specific privileges during their maternity leaves, and other cases that have been specific in this law and other legislation;

(c) Everyone has the right to choose a profession or a job according to one’s qualifications, skills, and interests on the basis of relevant laws in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

37. Pursuant to article 50 of the Constitution, State employees must be employed on the basis of qualification without any discrimination and conditions for recruitment of State employees are regulated by the 2005 Civil Service Law. According to the Civil Service Law, recruitment and appointment of civil servants should be based on candidates’ professional skills, such as education and professional experiences, through competitions. Any types of discriminations, based on gender, tribal, religious, and disabilities in the recruitment process is prohibited (arts. 2 and 11). Since 2002, the Government has also introduced the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission (IARCSC), which has the duty of monitoring a clear and transparent mechanism for the recruitment of State employees. In practice, however, State employees are not always recruited based on their qualification but sometimes through political and personal connections due to the reality in which the Government is sometimes pressured by external factors. In Afghanistan, there are currently 48,432 female staff (22.3 per cent) and 168,484 male staff (77.6 per cent) working in the central government offices.

Article 7

Working conditions

38. Issues related to working conditions and equality between men and women are also discussed in Afghanistan’s State reports on White Lead (Painting) Convention, Night Work (Women) Convention, Protection of Wages Convention, Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, and Occupational Cancer Convention, as well as on Equal Remuneration Convention, Rural Workers’ Organizations Convention, submitted all since 2004. In line with the Afghan MDGs, the Government commits to gender disparities in economic areas by 2020, including any disparity existing in labour market.

39. As per the aforementioned article 48 of the Constitution, working hours, paid holidays, employment and employee rights, and related matters shall be regulated by the law. For example, article 30 of the Labor Law states that the ordinary working period shall not be more than 40 hours per week. Article 31 states that the weekly working hours for the youth aged between 15 and 18 years of age as well as for pregnant women shall be a maximum of 35 hours per week. For workers engaged in underground work and works under conditions that are injurious to their health, the work week is reduced for 30 hours per week. Forced labour in general and forced labour by children is especially forbidden by article 49 of the Constitution and the Labor Law (arts. 4 and 13).


40. Concerning minimum wages, the Government has established a monitoring system pursuant to article 59 of the Labor Law. The Finance Ministry and the Administrative Reforms Commission, in cooperation with the MoLSAMD should control and/or determine the minimum wages. In reality, however, minimum wages cannot be implemented in practice due to economic situation in the country. The table below shows typical monthly salaries for workers in the public construction sector.

Table 3
Monthly salary for public construction workers

Construction company
Average monthly salary per worker
(in Afghanis*)
4 919
Balance Construction Agency
4 807
Mahref Construction Agency
7 227
Khana sazy Construction Agency
2 180
1 861
Speen ghare Construction Agency
6 748
Akhtasasi zarahty Construction Agency
13 317
Omore barqh construction Agency
2 308
Hefz wa maraqebate Construction Agency
11 926
Afghan gaz Construction Agency
Abrasani Macrorayan Construction Agency
3 684

Source: CSO Yearbook (2007)/ND: No data/Reliable data is not available.

* (1 Afg.= 0.02 USD).

41. Concerning the income distribution of employees, there is at present no official data on the remuneration of comparable jobs in the public and private sector in Afghanistan. Afghanistan lacks statistical data on wages for female and male workers in the private sector. In the public sector, there are no discriminations in wages and salary for female and male workers holding comparable positions.

Health and safety

42. Chapter Ten of the Labor Code provides for the Health and Occupational Safety Conditions. The requirements of this section are applicable in all public and private institutions. Pursuant to article 115, in order to carry out a medical examination to provide first aid for workers, a company or an organization shall establish either a room(s) for first aid unit, mobile pharmacy shop, and/or health unit in accordance with the standards set by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and the MoLSAMD. According to article 118, in case of any unpleasant work incidents, a company or an organization should prepare a report within three days and submit one copy to the MoLSAMD. In case of negligence or refusal, an injured party can submit a complaint to the MoLSAMD.

43. Although statistical data on fatal incidents has not yet been collected in Afghanistan, the Government makes efforts to prevent any hazardous incidents in work places through setting national standard on office/workplace safety and health conditions. A regulation on technical safety is in the process of being prepared to ensure technical safety requirements in workplaces nationwide. The Government also plans to prepare a list of work-related diseases in Afghanistan.

Leave days

44. Chapter Four of the Labor Law defines rest, work shifts, annual leave, public holidays, recreational leave, necessary leave, sick leave, maternity leave, and leave for Hajj Pilgrimage. There following are the fourteen holidays in Afghanistan, in addition to the last day of week (Friday):

(a) 21st of Novruz, the first day of the year;

(b) 28th of Assad, the day of restoration of independence;

(c) 8th of Sawr, Victory of the Islamic Revolution of Afghanistan;

(d) Three days of Eid-e-Feter;

(e) Four days of Eid-e-Adhah and Arafat (Three days of Eid-and one day of Arafat);

(f) 12th of Rabiul Awal, the holy birthday of Hazrat-e-Mohammad;

(g) 10th of Muharram, the day of Ashura;

(h) The first day of Ramadan; and

(i) 26th of Dalwa, withdrawal of Soviet Army from Afghanistan.

45. Article 42 of the law stipulates that the annual leave, including recreational, sick, and necessary leaves, are not included in the general and public leave days. Article 50 guarantees payment of workers’ wages and other allowances during recreational leave periods. The number of recreational leave days are defined as follows: workers are entitled to 20 days of recreational leave per year; workers, below 18 years of age are entitled to 25 days; and workers engaged in underground works or injurious works are entitled to 30 days of recreational leave, according to article 48 of the law. Article 51 stipulates that workers are entitled to ten-day necessary leave with pay per year in cases of marriage, death of first/second degree kin, and/or a child birth.

46. Article 52 grants 20 days of sick leave with pay and other allowances per year. In case sick leave lasts more than five consecutive days, a certificate of a medical doctor employed by a health institute or a certificate of the head of village/province in places without physicians is required. In addition, article 3 of the Regulation on Conditions of Granting Additional Sick Leave stipulates that the employee can enjoy additional sick leave with pay and other allowances according to the period of his/her service as follows:

(a) If the employee has worked for a period of one to five years, he/she will be granted three months;

(b) If the employee has worked for a period of more than five to ten years, he/she will be granted six months;

(c) If the employee has worked for a period of more than ten years, he/she will be granted one year; and

(d) If the sickness continues after the additional paid sick leave, after an approval of the doctor and confirmation of the relevant health facilities, the employee will be given unpaid leave, or he/she will be offered retirement.

47. The regulation above applies only for incumbent employees, and those who are seconded, or reserved.

Article 8

48. Afghanistan has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as the ILO Labour Relations (Public Service) Convention.

49. Article 147 of the Labor Law and the Law on Activities of Social Organizations protect the right to organize and/or establish labour unions or social organizations. There are no restrictions placed on freedom of association for different categories of workers, government or private, according to the Constitution as well as the 2003 Presidential Decree of the Transitional Government of Afghanistan on Social Organizations Law. Such unions or social organizations are established through voluntary participation and are independent from the government or political organizations. There are a growing number of social organizations registered in Afghanistan every year and the number had reached over 900 as of 2007. By contrast, the number of trade unions is limited to the ten as shown below. Creation of trade unions is still on an early stage. The ILO office in Kabul provides technical support for establishment of trade unions in more professional manner.

Table 4
Number of trade unions and number of female and male members (approx.)

Name of trade unions
Central Council of National Union of Afghanistan
3 499
68 098
71 597
Afghanistan Federation of Trade Unions
30 000
170 000
200 000
Afghanistan Labor Organization
Afghanistan Teachers’ Support Association
2 800
1 200
4 000
Afghanistan International Journalists’ Association
National Journalists’ Union of Afghanistan
6 150
7 200
All Afghanistan Women’s Union
60 000
60 000
Afghanistan Federation of Trade Union
4 050
4 500
Afghanistan Lawyers’ Union
2 250
3 000
Afghanistan National Powerful (Talented) Workers Union
1 200
1 700

Source: ILO (2007)/Research by the Office of Human Rights and Women’s International Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs/ND: No data available.

50. The 2007 Labor Law does not provide for collective bargaining and the right to

strike. Instead, it provides the Chapter Twelve, setting resolution mechanisms for work

related disputes or differences. The law foresees the establishment of work related Dispute Settlement Commissions under the MoLSAMD to resolve disputes based on respective legislative documents. Nevertheless, the rights related to strikes and demonstrations are protected in accordance with the provisions of the 2003 Presidential Decree of the Transitional Government of Afghanistan on Law on Gatherings, Strikes, and Demonstrations. According to this legislation, organizers have responsibilities to notify in a written form, about gatherings, protests, demonstrations, to the local police 24 hours before an event (art. 7).

Article 9

Benefit for survivors and persons with disabilities

51. Article 53 of the Constitution requires that the State adopt necessary measures to regulate medical services as well as financial aid to survivors of martyrs and missing persons, and for reintegration of the disabled and handicapped and their active participation in society in accordance with the law. The State shall guarantee the rights of retirees, and shall render necessary aid to the elderly, women without caretaker, persons with disabilities, and orphans in accordance with the law. Concerning medical services, Afghanistan has taken measures to provide free medical services for all nationals without discrimination, as this report describes under the right to health under article 12 of the Covenant.

52. The MoLSAMD is one of the key ministries responsible for social affairs for vulnerable groups. Afghanistan’s social welfare system has not yet developed due to lack of financial means. Despite all limitations, the Government prioritizes the protection of disabled people and families of martyrs, due to the fact that a large proportion of the population is killed or disabled in the war. Two Deputy Ministers’ Offices on Disabled and Martyrs Affairs and Social Affairs provide social welfare for disabled people and families of martyrs.

53. In 2007, there were approximately 340,000 households registered at the MoLSAMD which received a monthly benefit on the basis of martyrdom and/or disabilities. Among them 87,936 are single households with disabilities and 226,388 are families with one or more disabled family members. Single disabled person receives 400 Afghanis (equivalent to 8 USD) in assistance, and a family with disabled person(s) receives 500 Afghanis (10 USD) per month. As of December 2007, new draft legislation on assistance to martyrs and persons with disabilities is under final preparation at the MoLSAMD before sending it to the National Assembly for its approval. The bill aims at ensuring efficient and effective support for those individuals and families, including an increase of the amount of monthly allowance.

Table 5
Number of persons/families with martyrs and persons
with disabilities by province

Statistics of MoLSAMD
9 281
4 741
4 540
1 979
1 199
9 164
2 433
6 731
1 260
4 425
2 438
1 987
4 656
2 370
2 286
12 600
3 300
9 300
2 794
1 012
1 782
2 993
1 195
1 798
3 303
1 205
2 098
4 504
3 286
1 218
5 919
1 208
3 711
13 768
4 639
9 129
9 050
3 883
5 166
5 670
2 146
3 524
4 007
2 397
1 610
1 641
1 008
2 310
1 321
6 689
1 289
5 400
10 440
3 411
7 029
5 151
2 939
2 212
13 636
2 148
11 498
9 306
3 579
5 727
14 342
2 961
11 381
2 492
1 728
4 592
3 608
1 965
1 376
4 431
3 594
Jawz jan
12 396
3 824
8 572
4 791
1 799
2 992
8 497
3 497
5 000
2 561
1 629
2 702
1 202
1 500
25 261
3 892
21 369
68 225
13 500
54 725
296 811
88 275
208 536

Source: MoLSAMD (2006-2007).

Benefit for retirees

54. Chapter Thirteen of the Labor Law provides social benefits, including: (a) food allowances; (b) transportation; (c) support for finding shelter; (d) medical services for an employee and his/her family members; (e) financial aid at retirement; (f) child birth allowance; (g) financial support for a deceased employee’s family; (h) pensions for people who are elderly, ill, disabled, or suffering from other conditions prescribed in the regulations. Except for medical services, which are provided according to financial capacity of the employer, all allowances and support are to be paid by the employer’s budget, and pensions shall be paid from a pension fund. In addition, article 26 ensures the pensions and other worker’s rights are retained in the event of abrogation of the service contract on the basis of the rules and regulations under the Labor Law.

55. Retirement conditions are stipulated in article 138 of the Labor Law. Paragraph 1 states that the age of retirement for both men and women is sixty-five. If necessary, a company or organization can extend an employee’s working period for another five years. The default working period of the employee is forty years, and he/she is entitled to the wages of the last position, rank or grade after retirement. In addition, article 141 of the law provides for the same retirement rights for those whose retirement was caused by disability or death while at work, or by occupational disease or death, if certified by a health commission. The pension shall be paid as hundred per cent of the wage of the last rank or grade before retirement. For State officials, there are retirement allowances for different levels of personnel. In the private sector, however, the Government has not yet developed any monitoring mechanisms to follow up the practice. In reality, the enforcement of provisions related to retirement conditions and allowances is difficult considering the economic situation in the country.

56. According to the provisions of articles 23 and 24 of the Regulation on Retirement Rights, the beneficiaries of retirement allowances are broadly defined:

(a) The retirement allowance is distributed among survivals of the employee based on the provisions of religious law. If one of the survivors rejects his/her rights, it is distributed among the rest of the heirs;

(b) The survivals stated in paragraph one of this article include:

(i) Spouse;

(ii) Son or daughter below eighteen years of age, son/daughter studying or sick, and/or son or daughter who will permanently not be able to work;

(iii) Son engaged in compulsory military service, or unmarried daughter;

(iv) Father, mother, unmarried sister, brother below the age of 18 years old, or brother engaged in studies, brother engaged in compulsory military service, on the condition that the employee was responsible for their living before his or her death;

(v) Baby of the dead man born alive from his pregnant wife.


57. Due to budgetary restrictions, the Government of Afghanistan has not yet established a national pension plans for elders. Afghan society, however, traditionally respects and protects elderly people. Elders usually reside with and are supported by their families, or extended families. In case where there is no family support, community often provide financial support for elders, especially in rural areas.

Article 10

58. Article 54 of the Constitution states that family is the fundamental pillar of the society, and shall be protected by the State. The State shall adopt and measures necessary to attain the physical and spiritual health of the family, especially of the child and mother, facilitate bringing up children, and eliminate traditions contrary to the principles of the sacred religion of Islam.

Freedom of marriage

59. According to article 70 of the Civil Law, the legal marriage age is 18 years for men and 16 years for women. A couple can marry without an agreement if they are over 18 years old. The Government, especially the Ministry of Women Affairs (MOWA) has made significant efforts to raise public awareness of this law through media campaign. Enforcement of this law and underage marriage of girls continues to pose a significant challenge in Afghanistan, where reports indicate there are approximately one half of the population of girls less than 16 years old are married. In Afghanistan, especially in rural areas, it is common for poor families to marrying off their daughters while they are still young, by receiving cash.

Protection of families and mothers

60. There are no official benefits for child birth and/or parenting in Afghanistan. At the community level, however, it is a tradition to congratulate families of new born babies, especially after a third child, by sending cash to the family. There are 10,200 households with a single mother registered at the Government, although some reports indicate there are around 135,000 widows in Afghanistan. In addition, Female-headed households consist of three to seven per cent of total households suggested by some other reports. Among officially registered female-headed households, only 500 women are reported that they have professional skills with occupations. The rest relies on the support from extended families. Due to lack of financial means, the Government has not yet developed a social welfare scheme for single mothers’ households that are not entitled to receive any other financial assistance due to lack of financial means. There are projects supporting poor people, including female-headed households in the country, such as “Food Security for All” in nation level provided by international aid organizations.

61. The Government has made continuous efforts to ensure women’s maternity health rights. According to article 54 of the Labor Law, a female worker is entitled to take 90 days of paid maternity leave. Thirty days of this leave are to be taken before delivery and the remaining of sixty days after delivery. In the case of a difficult delivery, 15 more days of paid leave will be granted to her. Salary and other allowances will be paid based on the presentation of a valid certificate issued by a treating hospital.

62. The MOWA is the Government of Afghanistan’s principal structure for promoting women’s rights in health, education, and economic development, and combating domestic violence, and other forms of violence against women. Despite the significant role and mandate of MOWA in promoting women’s rights and improving women’s situation, MOWA lacks sufficient technical capacity, human resources and financial means to meet its goal in improving the life of Afghan women. Most activities have been implemented through support of the international organizations.

63. The Government of Afghanistan has a serious concern about violence against women, especially the one within the family. Some early marriages are combined with forced marriages. Consequently, the number of victims of domestic violence and women escape from their husbands are considered to be high although there are no official statistics. Because of the traditional society, those women who left their husbands usually are reluctant or not allowed to go back to their own families. Owing to the financial support from foreign donors, there are three shelters in Kabul, and four shelters in other cities as of January 2008. Each shelter has a capacity of twenty persons to accommodate.

Protection of children

64. The Government of Afghanistan is committed to protecting children through its ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1994 and its two protocols in 2003. In addition, Afghanistan has acceded to the ILO Convention on Minimum Age (No. 138) and the ILO Convention on Worst Forms of Child Labour (No. 182) in 2007, and they are under review for parliamentary approval prior to official ratification. Although accurate data is lacking, according to some statistics by UNICEF, approximately one half of the population in Afghanistan is under the age of eighteen. Outside the provincial capitals, birth registration was almost non-existent until 2003 when a national birth registration campaign started.

65. In Afghanistan, street children working and begging on the streets are a widespread phenomenon especially in Kabul City. Most children, however, are under protection and supervision of their own families, extended families or other sorts of community network. According to the “Best Estimates” of social indicators for children in Afghanistan 1990-2005, prepared by UNICEF in 2006, between 24 and 31 per cent of children in age of between seven and fourteen fall under child labour according to the respective definitions of “child labour”. In accordance with the 2006 National Strategy for Children at Risk, the Government has identified priority groups of children with specific vulnerabilities, including:

(a) Children deprived of education;

(b) Children with disabilities (mental and physical);

(c) Street children, including street working children;

(d) Children in conflict with the law;

(e) Trafficked children;

(f) Child soldiers and other war-affected children;

(g) Children deprived of parental care;

(h) Girls forced into marriage or early marriage;

(i) Young and unsupported mothers under the age of 18;

(j) Internally displaced and returnee children;

(k) Children of Kuchi (nomadic) and other disadvantaged ethnic minority groups;

(l) Children using drugs, and/or selling drugs;

(m) Children experiencing abuse (sexual, physical, emotional, neglect);

(n) Children from families living under poverty;

(o) Children from single-headed households;

(p) Children infected by HIV/AIDS.

66. In collaboration with UNICEF and civil society organizations active in protecting child rights, the Government of Afghanistan is committed to solving a phenomenon of child labour in Afghanistan. The Constitution and the Labor Law specifically prohibit the forced labour especially the child labour. Article 13 of the Labor Law sets restrictions on employee recruitment, stipulating that the minimum age for employment is 18. At the same time, the employment of children at the age of 15 is allowed on an exceptional basis, depending on the type of business, with an acknowledgement that under current educational curricula compulsory education is completed after nine years. However, the recruitment of persons less than 18 years old for any employment that may cause any health problem, physical injury is prohibited according to the Labor Law. Despite the government’s strong commitment and best efforts to eradicate a child labour phenomenon in Afghanistan, however, because of the needs for families, children are still sent to streets in reality. The Government sometimes turn its blind eyes to vulnerable situation involving these children. The problem of child workers and child labour cannot be fully solved without eradication of poverty of in this country. Most cases of child workers, child forced labour and child trafficking is the result of extreme poverty among Afghan households who have no means for living but to force their children into harsh jobs and even selling to traffickers.

67. A 1986 Regulation on Activities of the Coordination Council for Mother and Child Support was designed to assist mothers and children, although it has yet to be fully implemented. The regulation foresees the establishment of a council to coordinate line ministries, local communities, and civil society organizations, public and private companies to promote mother and child support. In consultation with UNICEF, the Government has already begun a process of institutional transformation and reform management. Within the MoLSAMD, a Child Protection Secretariat will be established, enabling to fulfil its broad mandate to protect vulnerable children.

68. According to the 2003 UNICEF figure, the proportion of orphans reaches 4.8 per cent of a total child population (under the United Nations definition of a child with one or both parents dead). However, the current system for protection of children provides assistance to only a small percentage of Afghanistan’s vulnerable children. There are 9,312 children living in 54 State orphanages located in Kabul and other provinces. The orphanages are not only for orphans but also for children who are expected to be returned to the full-time care of their family or extended family, and/or have access to a range of community and social network care. Overall, about one third (around 2,800) of the accommodated children is orphans who do not have any alternative support. 22 of these 54 State orphanages receive support from international and national donors. The remaining orphanages are funded through the MoLSAMD. In addition, there are seven private orphanages open in the capital and other provinces.

69. There are 164 public kindergartens in Kabul, including 129 office-located kindergartens and 35 kindergartens located in residential areas. There are 202 public kindergartens outside of Kabul, including 90 office-located ones and 112 located in residential areas. There are three private kindergartens in Kabul and Nimroz. In total, there are 369 kindergartens in the country, facilitating mother’s welfare, including working mothers.

70. Protection of minors in conflict with the law is the function of the Juvenile Code which was enacted in 2005. In addition to the Criminal Code, and Criminal Procedural Code, the Juvenile Code provides special protection for juvenile offenders through adjudication of juvenile delinquency cases as well as establishment of juvenile rehabilitation centres (art. 43). In adjudicating delinquency cases, judges are obligated to consider information related to the social, family, education and psychological background of the young person (art. 17). There is a total of 30 rehabilitation centres in Afghanistan, one in Kabul and 29 in provinces, providing educational and psychological rehabilitation for minors in conflict with the law. Under the Juvenile Code, juvenile judges and prosecutors have an obligation to visit rehabilitation centres at least once a month to monitor each child. In line with the 2005 Law on Prisons and Detention Centres, the Government also plans to increase the capacity of penitentiary institutions to provide adequate care for children who are currently accommodated together with female prisoners or detainees.

Article 11

Right to an adequate standard of living

71. After over two decades of war, there is an urgent need to protect and provide support for the many Afghan people living in critically poor and vulnerable conditions. In Afghanistan, different forms of social protection have traditionally existed through community and patronage systems. After many years of war, however, such traditional and informal systems are severely strained due to the large number of dependants in society, especially children, women, and persons with disabilities. The Government, especially the Ministry of Agriculture (MAIL), Ministry of Urban Development and Housing (MUDH), and the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) as well as MoLSAMD have primary responsibility in improving the standard of living, especially for those who are categorized as extremely poor and/or vulnerable groups.

72. The Government of Afghanistan has an obligation to design and implement effective programmes for developing industries, expanding production, and protecting the activities of craftsmen to raise the standard of living of the people, under article 13 of the Constitution. Furthermore, article 14 requires that the State, within its financial means, design and implement effective programmes to develop agriculture and animal husbandry, improve economic, social and living conditions of farmers, herders and settlers as well as nomads’ livelihood. The State is required to adopt necessary measures to provide housing and distribution of public estates to deserving citizens in accordance with the provisions of law and within financial possibilities. In line with the Afghan MDGs, the Government is committed to decreasing the proportion of people whose income is less than US$1 a day by three per cent per annum until the year 2020, and decreasing the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by five per cent per annum until the year 2015. (According to the survey conducted by the AIHRC, 60.3 per cent of interviewees earn one US dollar per day.)

73. The Afghan economy at the nation level has continued to grow during the fiscal year 1385 (2006-2007). Real GDP growth is estimated to be eight per cent compared to the fiscal year’s growth of 14 per cent. The reason for decline in GDP growth was due to the drought in 20062007. Since the interim government was established, Afghanistan has sustainable economic development based on flourishing industrial and services sectors, including construction, communication, transportation, and other types of private sector activities.

Table 6
GDP and per capita income 2002-2006

Average for the period
2002/03 (1381) -
200607 (1385)
(Afghan year)
5 444
8 399
7 309
5 971
4 585
4 082
GDP (million US dollars)
Real GDP growth rate (in per cent)
Nominal GDP growth (annual change)
Per capita income (US dollars)

Source: Central Bank of Afghanistan, Note: Central Statistics Office (CSO) final figures for year 2005/06 are all still not available; the estimates here are based on the IMF data and projections; and these data excludes opium production.

74. Per capita income during the last five years has increased from 182 USD to 354 USD. As a result of rapid growth in the industry and services sectors in the last five years, the economy has become less dominated by agricultural sector. In fact, the services sector has recently surpassed the agriculture sector in GDP.

Table 7
GDP composition by sector (per cent)

2005/06 Estimated (1384)
(Afghan year)

Source: Central Bank of Afghanistan - All figures based on IMF data.

75. In the 2006-2007 fiscal years, the domestic expenditure was 141.8 per cent of the GDP of which 100.5 per cent was shifted for consumption expenditure while 41.3 per cent was investment expenditure. The table below shows the change in consumption, savings, and investment in the Afghan economy over the last five years. The Government does not have statistics on income and expenditures of individual households.

Table 8
Consumption, savings, and investment 1381-1383
(2002/2003-2004/2005) (per cent of GDP)

(Afghan year)
Domestic expenditure
Gross fixed capital
Domestic saving
Public saving
Private saving

Source: Central Bank of Afghanistan - all figures based on IMF data.

76. The Government of Afghanistan is committed to ensuring basic economic rights, especially the eradication of poverty in rural areas, through the following programmes. As of 2007, 78 per cent of a total budget of US$580 million for these programmes has been secured through the financial support of the international community for 40 months since 2003:

(a) National Solidarity Programme (;

(b) Rural road construction programme;

(c) National programme on rural irrigation and sanitation;

(d) National programme on financial services and micro-credit;

(e) National programme for regional development;

(f) National programme on social safety and vulnerability assessment.

77. The National Solidarity Programme (NSP) has been implemented in over 30,000 villages, 346 districts, 28 of which include capitals of remote and underdeveloped provinces, involving 19 million people. Under the NSP, financial resources are directly handed over to development councils of villages to be spent on reconstruction and development of villages. Participating villages elect their representatives to a local development council through free, direct and secret ballots. Half of the elected representatives are women. Within over four years, 30,000 villages have received 437,054,128 dollars through 20,192 development councils and have started implementing 33,500 projects, 17,937 of which have been completed. These projects have been designed by village or district councils themselves based on local needs.

78. The rural road construction programme has built 1,800 kilometres of rural roads, and 2,886 bridges, protective walls against floods, with a length of 27,726 meters. The constructed roads, as of December 2007, connected more than 2,500 villages in 33 provinces. The rural irrigation and sanitation programme constructed 14,525 drinkable water sources, including irrigation plants, as well as 14,565 ditches, and public baths. Over 4.3 million people have been educated about sanitation through village and district councils. Agricultural infrastructure has been improved through the implementation of 2,420 small and medium irrigation projects, impacting 2,000 villages in 34 provinces. Other agricultural projects also targeted distribution of livestock, establishment of agricultural farms, construction of water mills, distribution of fertilizers, and vaccination of domestic animals, through the public councils set up in village and district levels by the Ministry of Agriculture. The Government also built 5,005 small hydropower electricity and thermal plants, impacting two million of people in 4,893 villages.

Right to adequate food

79. According to the NRVA (National Risk and Vulnerability Assessment) 2005 survey 44 per cent of Afghan households self-reported as ‘food insecure’ (i.e. they ‘sometimes,’ ‘often,’ or ‘mostly’ have difficulties meeting their food needs). This statistic is corroborated by the fact that an estimated 30 per cent of households do not meet with their energy (calorie) requirements and 61 per cent of households have poor food consumption as indicated by diet diversity (i.e. they consume less than four different food items each day or less than four different food items each day plus an additional two or three other items per week).

80. Food insecurity is also reflected in high malnutrition rates. A nutritional survey conducted by the MoPH and NGOs found that over six per cent of children under five years of age suffer from acute malnutrition (low weight-for-height ratio) while 45 to 60 per cent of the same age group are chronically malnourished (low height-for-age). Micronutrient deficiencies affect the majority of the population. According to the Micronutrient Deficiency Survey conducted by the MoPH, UNICEF, and the Centre for Disease Control in 2004, 72 per cent under five

and 75 per cent of women in reproductive age suffer from iodine deficiency. 72 per cent and 48 per cent of the same groups suffer, respectively, from iron deficiency, including 38 per cent and 25 per cent suffering from anaemia.

81. At the national level, the country does not produce enough crops to meet the nutritional requirements of the population. The crop production data collected in 2007 by the Ministry of Agriculture Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) indicates that while Afghanistan produced an estimated 5,584,000 metric tons (MT) of cereals. Considering the population of 24.1 million, the country’s requirements were approximately 6,100,000 MT, leaving a deficit of 526,000 MT. (Note: If there is a five per cent margin of error in the production estimate, the actual deficit could be around 800,000MT). This deficit exists despite the fact that the 2007 harvest was estimated to be the best since 1998.

82. Rising food prices globally and nationally, combined with rising oil prices which increase the price of food in import-dependent remote areas, and rapidly growing population suggest that Afghanistan will face increasing challenges in meeting its food needs in the years ahead. In 2007, the price of wheat is estimated to have risen between 40 to 80 per cent depending on the region (national average was a 58 per cent increase). To address this increased level of food insecurity, the Government has launched the following four food security programmes in consultation with the United Nations agencies and programmes, and in coordination with other six programmes of the MAIL:

(a) Infrastructural and decentralized strengthening programme;

(b) Improving food security in the household level;

(c) Improving microinfrastructural systems; and

(d) Emergency funds for saviours to be used in emergency cases.

83. There is at present no data available on the food security challenges facing specific vulnerable groups. However, the NRVA 2005 provides information by province and divided by urban, rural and nomadic (kuchi) populations. The resulting data suggests that urban households have the most difficulty in meeting their caloric requirements (31 per cent), followed by rural households (30 per cent) and Kuchis (24 per cent). This can be possibly explained by the high unemployment rates in urban areas; in rural areas, most households engage in some form of subsistence agriculture or livestock farming to meet at least part of their food requirements.

84. According to the diet diversity data, the most food insecure provinces are the central highlands, and Nuristan province, followed by some provinces in the South (Zabul and Nimroz). Generally, highlands tend to be most food insecure due to the long winters and related transportation and access difficulties.

85. Many rural households have difficulties accessing land. The NRVA 2005 estimated that 26 per cent of rural households do not have access to irrigated land. Agricultural plots are often small (the average plot size is 7.5 jeribs one jerib is 200 square meters), the growing population means that agricultural plots are increasingly fragmented through inheritance. Many plots do not receive enough water for yearround cultivation. Finally, some families are

challenged by land that has not been properly cultivated for a long time because many Afghan households are returning to their region after years of absence as refugees or IDPs, or are still displaced from their home areas.

86. Genderdisaggregated information on food security is not available, due to the difficulties of obtaining malnutrition data for adults, lack of reliable references, and absence of information on intrahousehold food distribution. But there are clear indications that maternal nutrition is a problem. 20 per cent of mothers have chronic energy deficiency, and micronutrient deficiencies are worse amongst women than men. 18 per cent of adult men were found to suffer form iron deficiency compared to 48 per cent of women, (excluding pregnant women) in the MoPH survey in 2005. Maternal malnutrition is related to the high number of pregnancies women experience (often six and up to twenty), the young age at the first pregnancy (sometimes thirteen years old), and the short birth spacing. Mothers do not have time to replenish themselves nutritionally between a lactation period and the next pregnancy. These physiological difficulties are compounded by the social and economic challenges that many Afghan women faces: women generally do not make decisions on the use of household income, and they have difficulties generating their own income due to lack of education and skills and social disapproval of female employment. The situation is particularly challenging for women without husbands or adult sons.

87. In the last five years, agricultural production has increased, as indicated by the MAIL surveys (3,589,000 MT in 2002 to 5,584,000 MT in 2007), in large part due to the recovery from the prolonged and generalized drought that struck the country between 1998 and 2001. Improvement in the political situation in the country has enabled farmers to return to their land, irrigation systems to be rehabilitated, inputs to be procured, and has made knowledge and technology transfer more feasible. Afghanistan continues, however, to face a number of challenges which could lead to the food security situation stagnating or worsening: many part of the country continue to suffer from regular droughts and/or springtime destructive floods, and population growth spurred by both returnees and high birth rates is putting considerable strain on natural resources.

88. Recent changes in national policies and laws represent steps in the right direction. Afghanistan has gone from an absence of polices and laws supporting food security to the preparation of the MAIL’s Master Plan and Implementation Plan, followed by the ANDS. The MAIL plan consists of seven programmes, including the National Programme for Food Security, called “Food Security for All”. Other programmes are focused on horticulture, livestock, natural resource management, irrigation, research and extension for market development, and capacity building of MAIL staff. The implementation of these programmes has started, but funding still needs to be secured to ensure their full implementation. The current security situation poses major challenges for the implementation of the programme, particularly in the most conflictaffected areas.

89. New technologies and improved inputs are slowly being introduced in Afghanistan through government and nongovernmental programmes to improve each stage of the agricultural production chain, including processing, storage and transport. These technologies include the introduction of new crop varieties, such as cereal and horticulture, improved pest and disease management, including better quality pesticides and fertilizes, and organic methods. Quality control systems are also being put in place to ensure the quality of agricultural inputs (seeds, fertilizers, etc.) and quality of food that is locally produced and imported.

90. Lack of knowledge about nutrition and how food can contribute to health is a leading cause of malnutrition in the country. Preventable causes of malnutrition include the belief that pregnant women’s breast milk is forbidden for their baby, late introduction of complementary foods which often fail to meet child needs, and limited use of diverse foods when they are available. In order to overcome lack of public awareness regarding nutrition, the MAIL in consultation with Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has developed several practical nutrition education materials, such as Afghan Family Nutrition Guide: Guide on Improved Feeding Practices and Recipes for Afghan Children and Mothers; Homebased food processing. The booklets are disseminated at the community level through literacy classes, poultry, diary and others agricultural projects, and health workers. School gardens have been piloted with the Ministries of Agriculture and Education, and will be expanded to several hundred schools in the next few years. Nutrition education is also being incorporated in literacy and school curricula.

91. The Government of Afghanistan is taking several measures to improve the distributions of food supplies to vulnerable groups, with assistance from external donors. With support from the World Food Programme (WFP), 216,037 MT of food aid was distributed to vulnerable households each year. To combat rising food prices, an appeal has been launched seeking assistance for an extra 40,000 tonnes of food, including 33,000 tons of wheat for 425,000 families in 2008, to be distributed particularly in urban areas. The Government also has removed tariffs on imported wheat and other food from Pakistan, to ensure a lower sales price to consumers, as well as announced a plan to lend up to US$100 million to traders to assist them in purchasing wheat from abroad. Although it is still under consideration, the Government is also exploring the possibility of providing subsidies to farmers as a means of keeping domestic food prices low. It is worth mentioning that the Government has already distributed 10,000 MT of improved seeds at subsidized price.

Opium cultivation

92. 193,000 hectare lands in 21 provinces have been cultivated for opium poppy production in 2007. Afghanistan produced 8,200 tons of opium. Poppy cultivation has been eradicated and do not exist in other 13 provinces. 53 per cent of narcotics were produced in Hilmand province and the rest in other provinces such as Kandahar, Nengarhar, and Orizgan. The Government of Afghanistan makes continuous efforts to eradicate opium poppy cultivation through the activities (Governorled and Afghan Eradication Forceled Eradication). The Government enacted the Law on Counternarcotic in 2005 as well as the National Strategy on Narcotics Control. Owing to the support of foreign donors, majority of farmers have given up opium poppy cultivation because alternative livelihoods are being provided. The Government also tries to work with local communities while disseminating the stop of opium poppy cultivation, because decisions by Shura (community) and religious organizations often influence/determine farmers’ decisions about opium poppy cultivation in certain areas of the country. Furthermore, the Government has the obligation to prevent all kinds of terrorist activities, cultivation and smuggling of narcotics, and production and use of intoxicants, specifically written in article seven of the Constitution. As UNODC 2007 Afghanistan Opium Survey indicates, the dynamics of opium poppy cultivation corresponds to the security situation caused by regional disparities in the country. Cultivation was increased in the south, west and east where security situation have deteriorated, contrary to the north and northeast of the country where security conditions remain stable made significant decrease in cultivation.

Right to adequate housing

93. After two decades of war, the standard of living in Afghanistan is under chronic and severe conditions both in urban and rural areas. Among the estimated total population of 24.1 million, around 18.5 million people live in rural areas. According to estimates, the national population is expected to reach 37 million by 2015. More than half of this growth will be in urban areas provided by that geographic location, and economic conditions, rural areas are limited to absorb further population growth. In addition, Afghan returnees from refuted countries, mainly Pakistan and Iran have exacerbated the population growth, particularly in cities, such as Kabul, Jalalabad, Mazar, and Kanadahar. A large number of IDPs exists in the country. Afghanistan is expected to be urbanised in the near future. In urban areas, the MUDH provides housing, services and employment in line with the Urban Reconstruction Plan, prepared with support of UNHabitat. Donors including the World Bank, EU, Germany, Japan, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and Care are implementing housing supply, sanitation, and drainage projects. These projects are implemented through close cooperation with the civil society and local municipalities, such as in Kabul, Kandahar, Jalalabad, Herat, and MazariSharif, strengthening their management capacity.

94. To implement housing projects in an efficient manner, the Government introduced City Master Plan and banned on distributing State lands contrary to the master plan in 2002. In addition, the Regulation on Distribution of Residential Plots to Homeless and Teachers was enacted in 2006. In reality, however, difficulties to obtain official statistics on homeless, forced evictions, and demolition of houses in addition to the lack of mapping of households and land survey in general are the leading cause of the problem. Furthermore, the security and complex property registration situations influence slow implementation of housing projects. Nonetheless, the Government has been constructing 20,000 residential houses in Deh Sabz area in Kabul city, and improving housing conditions in 19 districts in Kabul city through the financial support of the World Bank.

Land policy

95. Access to land is important for human equity and landlessness is a main factor of poverty in Afghanistan. As indicated earlier, the problems related to land include land disputes, improper land allocation, land grabbing, adjudication, lack of a clear land tenure and registration system, informal market transactions, and inefficient inequitable use of land for social and productive purposes. Poor households are generally the first to lose from the lack of a clear land management system. On one hand, there are a large percentage of landless farmers (47 per cent in rural areas) and on the other hand, around 90 per cent of Afghanistan’s territory is out of private ownership and called “Sultani land”. In urban areas, land prices are increasing dramatically while powerful individuals are seizing land in an improper way, such as the case in Shirpur village in the area of Wazir Akbar Khan in Kabul where poor residents were evicted and their houses were destructed by the police force. To investigate the case, the President issued Presidential Order no. 3861 in 2003, establishing an Independent Investigative Commission. Later the Kabul Chief of Police was dismissed but others still remain in power and victims of forced eviction received neither compensations nor alternative accommodations.

96. In Afghanistan, land management started only recent years. The Government of Afghanistan makes efforts to prepare a comprehensive land law in spite of extremely difficult situations related to the confiscated lands by previous governments, regimes, and/or illegally seized by powerful individuals. According to the Supreme Court, the following cases related to land disputes were adjudicated and completed at primary and appeal (district level) courts in 1384 (20052006), 1385 (20062007), and 1386 (20072008) up to the third quarter of this Afghan year.

Table 9
Number/type of completed cases related to land disputes in recent years

Type of dispute cases
1384 (20052006)
1385 (20062007)
1386 (up to third quarter) (20072008)
1 408
Property business related
1 105
2 050
1 235
2 919
Yards and gardens border related

Source: Supreme Court.

97. In making decisions, courts applies constitutional provisions, Civil Code, Presidential Decree No. 7 regarding the Amendment of Certain Articles of the Land Expropriation Law of 2005, Law on Confiscation of land of 2002, Presidential Decree on the Ban on Distributing State Lands Contrary to City Master Plan of 2002, and other applicable laws enacted by previous regimes. Article 40 of the Constitution stipulates that property shall be safe from violation. No one shall be forbidden from owning property and acquiring it, unless limited by the provisions of law. No one’s property shall be confiscated without the order by the law and decision of an authoritative court. Acquisition of private property shall be legally permitted only for the sake of public interests, and in exchange for prior and just compensation. Search and disclosure of private property shall be carried out in accordance with provisions of law. In reality, however, cases like Shirpur are one of many other examples.

98. From 2002, Special Land Property Court was established to resolve a large number of property dispute cases. The special court has been abrogated and the work is now succeeded to civil courts as of January 2007. Current efforts related to land are focusing on the writing and approval of a National Land Policy which will guide amending the existing land legislation. The existing Land Law, which was not compatible with the land policy and the needs of the current situation. Amendments to the existing Land Law are under consideration at the Ministry of Justice. The new policy and amendments aim to better regulate landrelated issues and address landrelated disputes by:

(a) Clarifying the system of land use and ownership (private, leasehold, communal, ownership, etc.);

(b) Defining rules for land allocation and acquisition;

(c) Protecting property rights and citizen’s rights;

(d) Clarifying land use and land management;

(e) Clarifying the land classification, notably government and private land;

(f) Collecting precise date on property for use in economic and development planning;

(g) Extending the leasehold period for farmers, and potential agricultural enterprises.

99. Furthermore, the new legislation on land aims at incorporating various source of laws enacted by different regimes and customary practices into a comprehensive source of law. It is worth mentioning that communitybased dispute resolutions are still common in Afghanistan in which disputes over inheritance are brought to Shura/Jirgas, not to the courts, for example. In such cases, customary practice sometimes prevails over the State law. Although existing Civil Code articles provides for inheritance: Twothird of inherited properties are allocated to the sons, and onethird to the daughters, shura does not enforce the State law but often enforce community customs to solve disputes.

Article 12

100. The Government considers health as fundamental human rights for the Afghan people. Article 52 of the Constitution states, “the State shall provide free preventative healthcare and treatment of diseases as well as medical facilities to all citizens. Establishment and expansion of private medical services as well as health centres shall be encouraged and protected by the State in accordance with the provisions of the law. The State shall adopt necessary measures to foster healthy physical education and development of the national as well as local sports.”

101. Following the fall of the Taliban regime, the Government has faced tremendous difficulties and number of obstacles to resume its functions in health sector due to unstable security situation as well as lack of financial resources, skilledworkers, and statistics on health care status in the country. In general, disparities exist in various magnitudes in relation to geography, socioeconomy, and gender across all dimensions of health care, including preventive and curative ones. Owing to foreign donors, health services in Afghanistan, especially the primary health care service has made significant progress since 2002.

General data related to health care

102. The table below provides information on some key indicators related to the health situation in Afghanistan between 2000 and 2006. The definition of geographic locations “rural” and “urban” are based on the Afghan Household Survey conducted in 2006 by the Johns Hopkins University and Indian Institute of Health Management Research. All six major cities, including Kabul, Herat, Jalalabad, Kunduz, Mazaar, and Kandahar (only the capitals) were considered “urban” while the rest of the country was defined as “rural”.

Table 10
Information on some key indicators

Total population
Settled population
Nomadic population
Number of women at reproductive age (1549 years)
Number of children under age five
Male life expectancy at birth
Female life expectancy at birth
Crude birth rate (per 1,000 population)
Crude death rate (per 1,000 population)
Total fertility rate (%)
Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births)
Under five mortality rate (per 1,000 live births)
Maternal mortality ratio (per 1,000 births)
Contraceptive prevalence rate among married women (%)

Skilled antenatal care rate at least 1 visit, excluding receiving tetanus toxoid (%)

Skilled birth attendance rate at last delivery (%)

Exclusive breastfeeding rate under 4 months; within 24 hours after birth) (%)
DPT3 coverage (1223 months) (%)

Measles immunization coverage (1223 months) (%)

Full immunization coverage (1223 months) (%)

Vitamin A receipt in last 6 months (659 months) (%)
Number of cases of polio (laboratory confirmed)

Table 10 (continued)

Tetanus toxoid coverage rate (%) of pregnant women receiving at least 2 doses)
HIV prevalence among 1524 yearold pregnant women (%)
Estimated number of cases of tuberculosis
69 849d
Tuberculosis case detection rate (%)
Tuberculosis treatment success rate (%)
Hospital beds per 10,000 population
Households with access to drinking water from pump or protected spring (%)
Households with access to sanitary latrines (%)

Source: Health and Nutrition Sector Strategy 20082013/ND: No data/Reliable data is not available.

a Central Statistics Office.

b Multi Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS).

c Afghanistan Health Survey/John Hopkins University (HS/JHU).

d WHO.

e WHO World Health Statistics 2007.

f National Hospital Survey.

g United States Census BureauInterAmerican Development Bank.

h Population Reference Bureau.

i Maternal Mortality Rate.

j MICS Reanalysis.


l Expanded Programme Immunization (EPI).


103. The following specific information can be referred to the reports that the Government of Afghanistan has already submitted to the WHO:

• Mortality: World Health Statistics 2007

• Morbidity: World Health Statistics 2007

• Health service coverage: World Health Statistics 2007

• Risk factor: World Health Statistics 2007

• Health systems: World Health Statistics 2007 Demographic and socioeconomic indicators: World Health Statistics 2007

104. The country’s healthcare facilities are divided into (a) primary healthcare facilities at community level, (b) district hospitals, (c) provincial hospitals, (d) regional hospitals, (e) specialized hospitals. The table shows the number of health facilities by province and the number of population per health facility.

Table 11
Number of health facilities by province

Name of Province
Number of population
Number of health facilities
Number of population per health facility
805 500
15 198
420 400
16 816
762 500
19 063
1 073 000
12 774
379 200
8 819
391 000
13 033
428 800
15 314
840 400
22 714
1 040 100
15 524
585 900
16 740
782 100
20 582
1 544 800
24 521
452 000
18 080
3 071 600
27 182
990 100
24 753
374 500
10 700
487 400
17 407
381 900
14 688
833 300
18 518
378 100
14 004
332 400
8 523
1 261 900
14 846

Table 11 (continued)

Name of Province
Number of population
Number of health facilities
Number of population per health facility
138 500
11 542
125 700
7 856
369 100
11 906
467 500
17 981
130 400
6 210
560 800
13 042
327 700
12 604
472 700
10 993
827 500
15 613
297 200
42 457
506 300
12 982
257 600
19 815

22 097 900
1 423
16 540

Source: MoPH (Health Management Information System 2007).

105. In 2004, the health facility assessment was conducted nationwide. The figure below shows that the public health clinics that provide primary healthcare services are more utilized by poor while hospitals in district and/or provincial levels are more utilized by nonpoor people. The definitions of “poor” and “nonpoor” are based on the household wealth status measured by the method developed and validated by Filmer and Pritchett. Equity of utilization and satisfaction is measured through concentration indices, using the method developed by Kakwani.

Figure 1
Source of care for people sick in the last month by income quintile


[*] In accordance with the information transmitted to States parties regarding the processing of their reports, the present document was not edited before being sent to the United Nations translation services.

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