FarhangSara - Promotion of Cultural and Artistic Expressions

The project fosters peaceful interactions within a divided Afghan society marked by decades of conflict. The unifying potential of cultural heritage and the promotion of artistic expression contribute to refocus on common ground. To ensure the protection and promotion of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, the project supports conducive cultural policies, strengthens partnerships with public institutions, private sector, civil society, media and individual artists all over the country.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Culture / development awareness
Culture & recreation
01.07.2019 - 30.06.2022
CHF 2'300'000
Background Decades of continuous conflict and violence have fragmented and divided the people of Afghanistan along ethnic, religious and social lines. In this context, the promotion of culture as shared value, tradition and heritage has a considerable potential to unite people and to support a process aiming at normalizing relationships, promoting pluralism and increasing mutual understanding. The lack of an inclusive cultural policy and inclusion of culture in relevant national policies, coupled with low capacity of cultural institutions and individuals pose challenges. In addition, coordination and exchange between state institutions, civil society and cultural organizations is limited as is public awareness related to culture. Due to these challenges, Afghan traditional arts and cultural expression still operate in a vulnerable environment.
Objectives Support, enable, enhance and strengthen the shared and diverse cultural values across Afghanistan, encouraging peaceful interaction amongst people.
Target groups

In total, 1 million Afghans will directly or indirectly benefit from the project:

  • Direct beneficiaries of the project include the Ministry of Information and Culture and its provincial departments, civil society organizations, culture and arts institutions (private and public), female and male artists, craftspeople, musicians, photographers, writers, researchers and other practitioners in urban and rural areas all over Afghanistan.
  • Indirect beneficiaries include large segments of the population, particularly women and youth.
Medium-term outcomes

Outcome 1: People from all segments of society have better access to quality artistic and cultural initiatives

Outcome 2: Government entities and civil society actors work closer together  towards protecting Afghanistan’s cultural heritage

Outcome 3: Skills on traditional crafts and creative industries are improved through the provision of vocational training and economic opportunity in selected target areas for young men and women

Outcome 4: Heritage sites and monuments are preserved, providing training and employment opportunities for local craftsmen. Public awareness and understanding of Afghanistan’s historic sites and monuments increases through better access and conservation.


Expected results:  

  • Members of the public, in particular artists, cultural and civil society organisations, apply for grants and implement projects that enable free artistic and cultural expression
  • General knowledge of issues relevant to the formulation of a cultural policy is improved
  • Access to high quality vocational training delivered by master craftsmen/women in suitably equipped facilities is improved
  • Small-scale sites and monuments in two provinces are successfully restored offering on the job training on conservation sites

Results from previous phases:   According to the external review, the project fills a large gap since culture has been neglected by the Afghan government and donors for many years. The project has been successful by providing funds to grass-root artists (32 cultural and artistic projects) and creating employment through training (1,147 trainees with a graduation rate of 87.5%) Similarly, the project has succeeded to do 316 job placements. Three cultural monuments in Kabul and Balkh have been restored, partially through FarhangSara funds. The project engaged overall with approx. 950’000 Afghans from a cross-section of ethnicities, gender groups and age bands.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
International or foreign NGO
  • Direct award to the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) through an international open tender procedure in 2016

Coordination with other projects and actors Ministry of Information and Culture, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Afghan Institute for Civil Society, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Turquoise Mountain.
Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF   2'300'000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF   288'924
Project phases Phase 99 01.07.2022 - 30.06.2024   (Planned) Phase 2 01.07.2019 - 30.06.2022   (Current phase) Phase 1 01.07.2016 - 31.12.2019   (Completed)