U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre

This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from a U4 Partner Agency. The U4 Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International in collaboration with the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre based at the Chr. Michelsen Institute.


Please provide an overview of the state of corruption in Afghanistan and the role of official development assistance.


Corruption in Afghanistan undermines the provision of basic services, enables the production and trafficking of narcotics and fuels instability. In the short term, official development assistance has prevented the collapse of the Afghan state’s core functions. However, donors’ highly fragmented, poorly executed stabilisation and democratisation measures have strengthened structures of neo-patrimonial governance and allowed parallel structures of service delivery to develop.

Moreover, an unknown but significant amount of development assistance ends up funding various armed factions. The government has adopted an anti-corruption strategy and made reforms to Afghanistan’s legal code. Nonetheless, gaps remain in the institutional framework and lack of enforcement continues to be a barrier to state-building

Main points

  • Endemic levels of corruption undermines the Afghan state-building project and corruption has become a driver of conflict in Afghanistan.
  • Generally, the engagement of donors in Afghanistan has been characterised by weak coordination and inadequate oversight mechanisms. This has created a larger space for errors in development cooperation with Afghanistan.
  • As a result of these issues, aid inflows have likely contributed to corruption, incentivised state capture and weakened state capacity.


  1. Background
  2. Extent of corruption
  3. Sectors at risk
  4. Corruption and official development assistance
  5. Anti-corruption framework


Mathias Bak


Roberto Martinez B. Kukutschka, Transparency International and Arne Strand, U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre




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