Accounting for 90 per cent of global output, illicit opium cultivation in Afghanistan is a major obstacle for the reconstruction and development of a country that has suffered over 30 years of conflict. In 2011, UNODC estimated opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan at 131,000 hectares. There was a 7% increase from 2010,  whereas the cultivated area was stable between 2009 and 2010.

Of Afghanistan's 34 provinces, 17 grew poppy in 2011, compared to 14 in 2010. Ninety-five per cent of the Afghanistan cultivation took place in nine provinces in the Southern and Western regions - the most insecure provinces on the country.

UNODC contributes to the reconstruction and development of the country through its evidence-based policy that guides the delivery of effective counter-narcotic, criminal justice and alternative livelihoods activities. UNODC has partnered with the Government of Afghanistan, in particular its Ministry of Counter-Narcotics, as well as other United Nations entities and stakeholders, to deliver alternative livelihoods assistance at both the regional and provincial levels. Significant progress in decreasing communities' dependence on the opium economy is visible in some areas of Afghanistan, particularly in the northern and western regions.

In Afghanistan, UNODC is involved in the following:

Building a counter-narcotic strategy:

The detrimental impact of opium poppy cultivation and opium trafficking in Afghanistan has stimulated efforts by both the Government and the international community to find solutions by enacting a combination of strategies, including by identifying alternative livelihoods for small-scale opium poppy farmers. UNODC contributes to these efforts through a team of alternative livelihoods experts based in Kabul, Badakhshan and Herat. These experts support the Ministry of Counter-Narcotics' provincial offices in a variety of tasks focusing on programme coordination and knowledge management. This support will be extended to the other Government ministries in succeeding years, with a view to assist the Ministry of Counter-Narcotics in implementing its mandate of counter-narcotics mainstreaming.

Afghanistan Opium Poppy Free Road Map

UNODC, in close collaboration with the Government of Afghanistan and other key stakeholders, continues to support the strategy contained in Afghanistan - Opium Poppy Free Road Map and Provincial Profiles. The road map contained in that document is aimed at increasing the number of opium-free provinces, consolidating progress made over the years and preventing a return to opium poppy cultivation. The approach promotes operational coordination at the field level, augmenting synergy and the impact of existing interventions in a cost-effective manner.


Alternative development projects in Afghanistan