Falling Short

The prospects for peace in Afghanistan are being undermined because Western countries are failing to deliver on their promises of aid to the tune of $10 billion and because aid going to the country is used ineffectively, according to this report by Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR), an alliance international aid agencies that includes Oxfam.

The prospects for peace in Afghanistan are being undermined because Western countries are failing to deliver on their promises of aid to the tune of $10 billion and because aid going to the country is used ineffectively, according to this report by ACBAR, an alliance of international aid agencies—including Oxfam—working in Afghanistan.

The international community has pledged $25 billion to Afghanistan since 2001 but has only delivered $15 billion. The US is the biggest donor to Afghanistan but also has one of the biggest shortfalls—according to the Afghan government between 2002 and 2008 the US only delivered half of its $10.4 billion commitment.

The same sources show that over this period the European Community and Germany distributed less than two-thirds of their respective $1.7 and $1.2 billion commitments, and the World Bank has distributed just over half of its $1.6 billion commitment. The UK pledged $1.45 billion and distributed $1.3 billion.

An estimated 40 percent of the money spent has returned to rich donor countries such as the US through corporate profits, consultant salaries and other costs, vastly pushing up expenditure. For example, a road between the center of Kabul and the international airport cost the US over $3.7 million per mile, at least four times the average cost of building a road in Afghanistan.

Around 90 percent of all public spending in Afghanistan comes from international aid, so the massive shortfall hinders efforts to rebuild infrastructure damaged by over two decades of war and to ensure the widespread delivery of essential services such as education and health.

The report says a level of donor under-spending can be expected because of the lack of Afghan government capacity, large-scale corruption and challenging security conditions. But the size of the shortfall highlights the importance of donors making concerted efforts to address these issues.

The report also shows that a disproportionate amount of aid follows the conflict and is being used for political and military objectives rather than reducing poverty.

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