Showing posts with label aid. Show all posts
Showing posts with label aid. Show all posts

Sunday, January 3, 2016

U.S. Aid Worker Killed in Afghanistan

Photo from "Lisa Akbari
Foundation" Facebook
A U.S. aid worker was killed in Kabul by an Afghan man. Lisa Akbari, an Afghan-American (age 35), was shot while leaving the gym in her apartment complex and returning to her room. She worked for the DoD as a member of the Human Terrain System from 2009 to 2013, and then for several humanitarian aid organizations in Afghanistan. Her father is from Afghanistan and her mother from Iran. Lisa grew up in California. The attacker was captured shortly after the incident. A non-profit organization called the "Lisa Akbari Foundation" has been established to raise money for Afghan women and children.

Some news stories of the incident are below:

"American women killed in Kabul wanted to help Afghans, sister says", CNN, Dec 22, 2015.
"Mullah Accused of Killing Afghan-American Woman in Kabul",, Dec 22, 2015.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Remote Management of Afghan Aid Projects

Humanitarian aid organizations are looking hard at the viability of continuing aid projects in Afghanistan over the long term with the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan. As of fall 2014 most ISAF forces are either in Kabul or operating at the regional or Afghan Army Corps level; leaving no one at the provincial and district level. The level of security (now the responsibility of the Afghan security forces) has diminished throughout Afghanistan. Without the presence of international troops many aid organizations have ceased on-site management of aid projects; relying instead on remote management of projects. Unfortunately, the quality of aid goes down significantly with remote management due to inadequate monitoring, poor workmanship, and corruption. You can learn more about the challenges and risks that NGOs will face in 2015 (after the ISAF mission is complete) in Transition and Non-Government Organizations in Afghanistan: An Assessment and Prospects, by the Afghanistan Public Policy Research Organization, published in January 2014 at this link.

Aid to Afghanistan More than to Europe after WWII

A US government report has revealed that the cost of reconstruction for Afghanistan has gone beyond the cost of the reconstruction of Europe after World War II. Corruption and waste were cited as the primary reasons for this huge cost. The report says that most of the aid projects were undermined by "poor planning, shoddy construction, mechanical failures and inadequate oversight". One sector of the Afghan population that has benefited is the ruling elite. The Karzai clan has become immensely rich with properties in Dubai and elsewhere in the world. Read more in "Afghanistan has cost more to rebuild than Europe after Second World War", The Telegraph, July 31, 2014 at this link.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Book - "The Pomegranate Peace"

A new book has been published called "The Pomegranate Peace" by Rashmee Roshan Lall. The novel is about the failure of the United States reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan - how we threw money away on big and small projects with a lack of expertise and oversight. This story centers around a woman sent by the State Department to run a project that will increase the export of pomegranates to develop the economy, eradicate poppy cultivation, improve the lives of Afghans, and pull support away from the Taliban. The author spent some time in Kabul and relates the life of an American working the war effort on the development front. A recent book review has more "Book Review: The Pomegranate Peace", Fire Dog, January 24, 2014. The book is available at - The Pomegranate Peace.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Schoolhouse Construction in Afghanistan - Lacking Oversight

Schoolhouse in MeS - photo SIGAR Jan 14
A schoolhouse being built in Afghanistan has turned into a glaring example of how an aid project can go wrong in Afghanistan. The school has turned into a money pit - the project lasting five years and a number of contractors. The school still is yet completed with USAID in search of yet another contractor to finish the job and correct the deficiencies. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) recently published a report on this project. Unfortunately, the example in this report is not the exception but probably the rule. USAID has had some big problems in oversight of its projects. Corruption in Afghanistan is rampart and we have not seen the return we should have on the many billions of dollars pumped into Afghanistan - whether military aid or reconstruction dollars. Read a recent news article on the school in Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan entitled "5 years and 3 contractors later, Afghanistan school still deemed unsafe", Fox News, January 22, 2014. Read the SIGAR report.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Congress Cuts Development Aid for Afghanistan by 50%

Congress has cut development aid to Afghanistan by 50%. In the massive spending bill signed into law the lawmakers provided $1.2 billion for fiscal 2014 for civilian assistance. Congress is less than happy with the performance of the Department of State and USAID in the management of funds. In addition, the gross corruption of the Afghan government and the erratic and irritating behavior of President Karzai has many feeling like it is time to pull the plug on financial assistance. Read more in "U.S. eyes options for Afghanistan after Congress cuts aid", Reuters, January 21, 2014.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Aid to Afghanistan Likely to Diminish with Withdrawal of U.S. Troops

The future of aid to Afghanistan is uncertain as U.S. troops continue their withdrawal. Without the protection that U.S. bases and troops provide to those administering (and checking on) aid projects the likelihood of aid money going to its intended purpose is slight. Corruption with the aid projects from Afghan government officials is horrible already. With the diminished ability of aid project managers to inspect progress of aid projects this Afghan corruption will only increase. It may be time to curtail some of these aid projects due to a lack of future oversight. Read more in "As Troops Leave, and Uncertain Future for U.S. Aid in Afghanistan", The New York Times, February 14, 2013.

Friday, March 23, 2012

UK to Pay Closer Attention to Aid Dollars for Afghanistan

The United Kingdom is striving to pay closer attention to where the aid dollars to Afghanistan end up. Corruption is a huge problem in Afghanistan and corrupt Afghan officials divert a lot of aid money to their bank accounts in Dubai. Afghanistan is one of the UK's top foreign policy priorities and see a lot of money coming its way from the UK; but many in the UK question where that money ends up. Britain's Department for International Development (DFID) is being urged to send more personnel with financial and contracting experience in order to ensure the money goes to the intended purpose. The Independent Commission for Aid Impact, a UK government entity, says that the UKs aid program is not performing well and needs significant improvements. Read more in "UK must tighten grip on Afghan aid programme - watchdog", Reuters, March 22, 2012.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Blog Post on PRTs and Our Goals in Afghanistan

A blogger - who also works for an NGO in Helmand Province - provides his perspective on whether we should have Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in Afghanistan.  He also goes at length discussing what our aims and objectives are.  See the blog post here at "Ride for the Brand", Free Range International (Outside the Wire, Inside the Loop), February 11, 2011.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Oxfam Says Aid Funding Should Not Be Used to Attain Short-Term Military Goals

Oxfam, an international aid agency, has issued a report saying that aid used to further military objectives has a dangerous effect on aid workers.  It accuses donor nations of spending money foolishly on expensive and unsustainable projects. 
"Billions of dollars in aid have been spent on projects that are expensive, unsustainable and sometimes even dangerous, because donor governments are increasingly using the money to support their short-term military and security goals, international aid agency Oxfam said on Thursday.

The neutrality and safety of aid workers is compromised if local people see humanitarian and development funding as a tool of the military, the charity says in a report. It notes that 225 aid workers were killed, kidnapped or injured in attacks during 2010, up from 85 in 2002, partly reflecting a rise in politically motivated violence." 
Read the news report in "Aid Increasingly Wasted on Security Aims: Oxfam", AlertNet, February 10, 2011.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Discouraging View of How Military Operations Hinder Development from Occuring in Afghanistan

There is lots going wrong in Afghanistan - one of which is the inability to get development to occur at a faster rate.  As a part of the counterinsurgency strategy - providing services (electricity, schools, roads, irrigation, medical clinics, etc.) through new development projects is supposed to tie the local populace in the rural areas to the district and provincial governments - thereby generating support for the central government (you know, the one run by Karzai and his corrupt cronies).  There are many reasons cited for development not progressing as fast as it should.  Security is the main reason - it is hard to build roads if the roads are mined with IEDs and the workers threatened, kidnapped, or killed.  These development projects sometimes have to provide for their own security so private security firms are contracted for - using a good portion of the development funds.  Corruption is another problem.  The Afghan governmental system is rife with corrupt officials from Karzai down to the lowest level.  One particular journalist, Mark Curtis, writing for the British newspaper - The Guardian - lays the blame on the military and military operations.  Read his view in "Afghanistan is being stifled by military operations"The Guardian, February 19, 2011.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Money as a Weapons System - Marjah, Afghanistan

A writer for McClatchy Newspapers reports that things are going well in Marjah, Afghanistan.  Of note is his description of how the economy is picking up - primarily jump-started by money being doled out by the Marines.  "Money as a Weapons System" would seem to be a favorite tactic of the Marines in Marjah and . . . for the time being (according to the report) it would seem to be working.  See "Tailor shops displace opium bazaar in Afghan town", McClatchy Newspapers, February 17, 2011.

For information about using money as a way of winning the war see "Commander's Guide to Money as a Weapons System Handbook", Handbook 09-27, April 2009 (posted on the United States Army Combined Arms Center here).  Some observers are not that convinced that the concept is a good one - see commentary by Andrew Wilder, a research director at Feinstein International Center at Tufts University, in "A weapons system based on wishful thinking",, September 16, 2009.  (the article is dated but . . . ).

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Karzia Critical of US Dispensed Aid in Afghanistan

President Karzai of Afghanistan has publicly stated that military and other international organizations that dispense aid in Afghanistan are undermining his government.  The US and ISAF have a number of programs in place that provide aid at the local level and help to establish local governance and village security.  The programs are administered by a variety of means - usually through USAID, the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT), CERP funding projects, or other programs.  The funding stream is passed from the US government down to the local level bypassing the corrupt Afghan central government that would take its usual 30 to 50 % off the top to buy villas in Dubai, fancy automobiles, and plush houses in Kabul for its high-level officials and family members.  Read more in "Karzai critical of aid bypassing Afghan government", The Washington Post, February 6, 2011.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Private Aid Group has Bold Plan for Afghanistan

A group of private citizens have developed a bold plan for revitalizing Afghan villages.  The group consists of some highly influential members of the private sector and they are critical of current aid efforts by the U.S.  Read more in "Force behind Charlie Wilson's War has new plan for Afghans", Houston Chronicle, December 26, 2010.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Aid Groups Say Situation in Afghanistan is Worse

Non-government organizations (NGOs) who dispense aid and services throughout Afghanistan state that the security situation on the ground in Afghanistan is getting worse.  Read more in "Afghanistan security worsening, say aid groups and analysts on the ground", The Age, December 30, 2010.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

SIGAR States Billions of Aid Dollars Wasted or Stolen in Afghanistan

The special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, Arnold Fields, has stated that the U.S. has wasted or seen stolen by corrupt Afghan officials billions of dollars of aid money meant for training the Afghan security forces or for development and aid purposes.  Read more in "Waste in US Afghan aid seen at billions of dollars", Reuters, December 20, 2010.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Afghan Aid Groups May Depart Due to Security Firm Decision by Karzai

President Karzai has determined that foreign private security firms must depart Afghanistan.  Unfortunately this will affect the amount of aid that is administered in Afghanistan as the international aid groups are hesitant to depend upon Afghan security forces.  Read more in "Afghan Aid Groups Plan to Leave Over Karzai Decree", The Wall Street Journal, October 21, 2010.

Is Aid for Afghanistan Really Working? Learn about the PRT in Lashkar Gah

A columnist explores the actions and activities of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Lashkar Gah - Helmand's provincial capital.  He determines that some things are working yet wonders how much it can help with a government that is corrupt and inept.  Read more in "Afghanistan: can aid make a difference?", The Guardian UK, November 19, 2010.