Afghanistan is the lead producer and cultivator of opium globally. Accounting for 74 per cent of global output in 2012, 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 2013, opium poppy cultivation reached a record high of 209,000 hectares, a 36 per cent increase over 2012. Of Afghanistan's 34 provinces, the number of poppy-free provinces decreased from 17 in 2012 to 15 in 2013.

With the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan, the country will require concerted efforts on the part of the international community. UNODC will continue to provide assistance to bring counter-narcotic programmes into the mainstream of social and economic development strategies in order to reduce illicit crop cultivation.

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. Illicit crop cultivation is being addressed through strengthening of national policies and capacities to implement alternative development programmes and improve coordination between government and non-government stakeholders.


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.


Strengthening provincial capacity drug control

This project aims at strengthening the institutional and operational capability of the Afghan Ministry of Counter-Narcotics' provincial directorates. The project team works closely with the directorates in the respective provinces to better organize and, increasingly, to involve them in planning, monitoring and evaluating efforts related to drug control, in particular alternative livelihoods development assistance.

An important component of the project strategy is to develop counter-narcotics capacity at the provincial level by strengthening UNODC's presence in the provinces that are most affected by illicit crop cultivation. This is to be achieved by ensuring an effective institutional framework capable of providing technical support to meet the increasing needs of the Afghan Government and aid agencies in all sectors of drug control, in particular the integration of alternative livelihoods into development programmes.