Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Michelle Penner‐Angrist




Afghanistan, war, Taliban, aid, humanitarian efforts


The US‐led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 brought to light the comprehensive destruction of the Afghan state. Twenty years of continuous war had ravaged the country, and with the Taliban’s expulsion of western aid agencies, Afghans were further deprived of their basic needs. The international community has rallied around this cause, donating nearly $40 billion in aid since 2001 to help develop Afghanistan. However, this international investment has not yielded optimal results; fundamental mistakes have limited the growth in capacity of the Afghan government and its people. Through analyzing the effectiveness of the major donor programs, a key lesson was learned: the absence of a unified development program has undermined the growth and capacity of the Afghan government. International aid programs in Afghanistan have revealed that providing a service of need trumps increasing the capacity of governance and rule of law. The status quo cannot persist—short‐term humanitarian efforts have been maxed‐out and need to shift to long‐term sustainable projects. To ensure the success of the Afghan state and remove its dependence on international aid, it is imperative to learn from past international aid mistakes and apply the proper changes to Afghanistan.