Donors Need New Long-Term Development Strategy in Afghanistan - International Crisis Group

How can the international community improve its humanitarian and development aid engagement in Afghanistan, especially as it prepares to hand over security and economic control to the Asian country’s central government by 2014? The U.S.-based think tank International Crisis Group offers suggestions to the United States and its allies as well as to the Afghan central government in Kabul, even as it warns that Afghanistan is not likely to be self-sustainable in three years.

In a report published Aug. 4, the International Crisis Group urged donors to channel more aid and hand over more authority to the Afghan government. But these steps should be taken in the context of capacity building and local ownership, the report warned.

“Donors cannot delay devising a new, long-term development and humanitarian partnership with Afghanistan that goes beyond a narrow arrangement with the Karzai administration,” the think tank explained.

Below are the International Crisis Group’s recommendations for the United States, the European Union and their allies:

  • Separate nonmilitary aid from counterinsurgency efforts.

  • Engage provincial governments in the development process, including when identifying needs, determining priorities and monitoring project implementation. The international community’s engagement with the Afghan state should include government actors outside Kabul.

  • Improve the delivery of aid by focusing on budget support through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Fund and urging the central Afghan government to sufficiently fund provincial development plans. Reliance on foreign private contractors, particularly in noninfrastructure programs, should also be reduced.

  • Reduce the military’s involvement in development, humanitarian and reconstruction aid and improve coordination between civilian and military actors in cases where the latter’s involvement is necessary.

  • Coordinate closely with the Afghan government in improving aid transparency.

  • Properly vet personnel of security and development contractors to minimize aid diversion and misuse. Kabul’s government should also be urged to investigate fraud allegations in commercial firms such as the Kabul Bank.

  • Boost the Afghan state’s fiscal and administrative autonomy.

  • Put rule of law at the heart of counterinsurgency efforts by focusing on improving professional and increasing the retention rates of the Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army, supporting judicial reform and halting support for militias.

  • Hold the Afghan government accountable to international conventions it signed, including on the protection of women and minorities’ rights.

Meanwhile, the think tank is urging the central Afghan government to:

  • Enhance aid transparency.

  • Support development and capacity building at the provincial and local community levels.

  • Work toward reducing aid dependency and generating own revenue through large-scale infrastructure investments, particularly in the energy and agriculture sectors.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.