Thursday, December 3, 2009

$40 bn in American aid makes Afghanistan the second least developed country

THE US has spent over $40 billion in rebuilding Afghanistan since 2002. The huge sum in development aid has not much to show in Afghanistan. Even by America’s own account, the oversight and control on the $40-billion spending spree in Afghanistan has been “sloppy.”

The United Nation’s Human Development Report in 2009 has listed Afghanistan the second least developed country out of the 182 nations in the world. Afghanistan is sandwiched between Sierra Leone and Niger at the bottom of the development index. 

Afghans constitute 13% of the global refugees and 16% of the global asylum seekers. According to the development statistics, there is a 40% probability that an Afghan citizen will not see his or her 40th birthday. Four in 10 Afghan children under the age of 5 are malnourished and underweight. Only 12% women are literate and a small proportion of school-aged children are in fact enrolled in educational institutions.

It is indeed surprising that the $40 billion in American spending in Afghanistan has accomplished almost nothing. Retired Major General Arnold Fields, the US Chief Inspector for Afghanistan reconstruction, has argued for more “accountability, particularly as the Obama administration intends to funnel more funds through Afghan institutions.” He calls the $40 billion spending oversight sloppy.

While transparency International lists Afghanistan among one of the most corrupt countries, it should also look into how billions in aid money is used routinely to bribe Afghans and other destitutes.

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