Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, February 18th, 2019

Programs Worth $2.3 Billion Ineffective in Afghanistan

Afghan people show a certain level of optimism and hope when they hear about large sum of money being promised and even transferred to Afghanistan for support and assistance; however, they fail to see real changes in the lives of the poor and deprived people. As a matter of fact, the large amounts of money that make the headlines and give hopes to the people are not spent in the best way. They do not reach to the deserving people and are mostly swallowed by corruption, which is prevalent in the society just like poverty and terrorism. This is a matter of concern and true, dedicated and honest efforts should be made in this regard if there is a will that any sort of assistance for Afghanistan should reach to the suffering masses. 
In a recent audit report, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) revealed that more than two dozen programs that cost more than $2.3 billion were unsuccessful overall as implemented in Afghanistan. The audit was launched in 2012 to monitor and evaluate ongoing stabilization programs and was focused on the US Agency for International Development's (USAID) Measuring Impacts of Stabilization Initiatives (MISTI) project.
The company contracted to implement MISTI, told SIGAR “it could not properly locate where USAID conducted stabilization activities because of the inaccurate geospatial data it received, and as a result, could not begin conducting verification work.”
The audit quotes USAID officials as telling SIGAR that they do not have any agency or mission-level policies to govern or guide the collection, maintenance, use, or sharing of geospatial data.
Unless the problem is addressed, USAID will continue to operate with inaccurate, problematic geospatial data, not knowing where its program activities are being conducted, the audit warned. It also highlighted that this will continue to limit the agency’s ability to provide effective oversight and to mitigate potential fraud, waste, and abuse in connection with its programs in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan has, as a matter of fact, failed to deliver maximum at the time when the development has been required the most and, in the process, has also lost some golden opportunities.
Corruption has been lethal enough to annihilate the efforts or the plans to reconstruct the country and the different systems that may set it on the way to development. It should be noted that billions of dollars poured in the country for both military support and development projects. But if we analyze the socio-political and socio-economic scenario in the country the development does not seem as great as it should have been. Most of these aids were devoured by corruption instead of being spent for the intended purposes. Either the money that was to be spent through government or the NGO sector, both the ways corruption had the largest share.
An annual study of Transparency International for 2015 also revealed that Afghanistan is ranked the second most corrupt countries among 176 in the world. This is really tragic and shows that no considerable work has been done against corruption though it has been highlighted as a major problem throughout the last decade. And, it has had negative influences as well; particularly in the top governmental institutions. Corruption not only dominated the elections but also haunted the Kabul Bank and brought bad name to the nation and at the same time financial loss; however, it has been left to dominate with vigor and strength. It has, in fact, victimized our society more than terrorism and insecurity and today if Afghanistan is not able to stand on its own, it is also because of the corruption.
The Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC) earlier blamed leaders of the National Unity Government (NUG) for failing to deliver on their promises to fight corruption in the country. With the change in government, there were some hopes that the situation would get better as National Unity Government (NUG), in its early days promised to handle corruption with iron fists; however, that does not seem to be happening even after so many days have passed. Afghanistan still stands among the most corrupt countries in the world.
There seems to be no doubt in the fact that one of the basic reasons of the persistent rise in corruption in Afghanistan is the lack of commitment and honest efforts to control and eradicate this menace. Neither the previous government, nor the current government has shown real efforts to face it seriously. Therefore, the serpent has survived and has become reckless and out of control.
It is a real challenge now for the Afghan government to stand against it. However, a solid and dedicated effort against it can make a difference. It is not altogether impossible to defeat it. Definitely, strict measures are required, temperaments would be tested, institutions would be questioned, the powerful would have to be threatened, and more responsible attitude would be expected from all the people; in short, the whole mechanism would be shaken if there are real and honest efforts. And, it should be noted that there is no alternative for Afghanistan. The way it is going on leads to chaos and instability. If it has to change its route it must decide now and act accordingly.