During a visit to Washington this week, Afghan President Hamid Karzai will ask for more oversight of foreign aid flowing into his country — despite lingering concerns about fraud, waste and abuse.
Much of the foreign aid pledged for Afghanistan in July were conditioned on Kabul being able to improve management of public funds. Corruption is a long-standing donor concern in the conflict-torn country.
“The way the U.S. money is spent here, there’s a lot of waste, particularly money spent through contractors and outside sources,” which get most of the aid, he told The Wall Street Journal. He said only around 10 percent of U.S. aid goes to the government’s core budget.
Just last December, Afghan police arrested two former contractors of the U.S. Agency for International Development in the country for conspiring to steal about $10,000 in U.S. aid. Both are facing fraud charges and will be prosecuted in an Afghan court.
Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan also suggested the United States has “not controlled our contractors nearly enough, as far as I’m concerned … [There’s been] a hell of a lot of waste. And there needs to be much greater emphasis on accountability of our resources.”
Afghanistan will not be asking — or even expect — new aid commitments from Washington, Afghanistan’s finance minister suggested. But Karzai will be present a “specific list of infrastructure projects” he wants to see done. The country will also need help in the areas of energy, transportation and agriculture, he added.
Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex senior reporter based in Manila. Since 2011, she has covered a wide range of development and humanitarian aid issues, from leadership and policy changes at DfID to the logistical and security impediments faced by international and local aid responders in disaster-prone and conflict-affected countries in Africa and Asia. Her interests include global health and the analysis of aid challenges and trends in sub-Saharan Africa.