Donors Accused of Failing Afghans
By Alastair Leithead, BBC News, Kabul
Some $10bn (£5bn) in aid promised to Afghanistan has still to be delivered, aid organisation Oxfam has said.
It also finds that two-thirds of aid is not spent through the government and 40% goes back to donor countries in consultant fees and expatriate pay.
Oxfam says the prospects for peace in Afghanistan are being undermined because what has been donated is not being used effectively.
Oxfam carried out the report on behalf of 94 aid agencies in Afghanistan.
“Western countries are failing to deliver” is the clear message of the Oxfam report for the umbrella group Agency Co-ordinating Body for Afghan Relief (Acbar).
It shows a disparity between what has been promised and what has been delivered.
And the way in which the money is used is also criticised.
Different countries have different ways of spending.
Some countries channel donations through the government to help their civil service manage and decide on the funding of development programmes but two-thirds of the international aid misses out the government altogether.
America is the biggest donor by far.
But a USAid official confirmed that since 2001 it had only spent two-thirds of the money it pledged – a shortfall of $8.5bn – blaming poor security for an inability to get projects under way.
And the official said only 6% of the overall budget was spent through the Afghan government “to ensure US taxpayers’ money could be accounted for” – implying a lack of trust in the government system.
Acbar’s director said too much was being spent on short-term projects as a lever to win people over as part of the military counter-insurgency strategy, at the expense of longer-term development.
The Oxfam report points out that while the US military spends $100m a day, the average amount of aid spent by all donors combined has been just $7m a day since 2001.
The findings echo the feelings of Afghan people who had high expectations when the Taleban were removed from power.
They are now disappointed by a lack of tangible progress despite the billions of dollars they are told have been heading into the country.