In Afghanistan, Shift in US Aid Strategy to ‘Postpone, Modify or End’ Projects

Students from Afghanistan wear apparel by the U.S. Agency for International Development while riding their bicycles. Photo by: USAID

The U.S. Agency for International Development will “end, postpone, or modify projects” in Afghanistan that do not align with the principles of sustainability, cost-effectiveness and Afghan self-sufficiency, according to a senior official with the agency.

In a blog published Aug. 1, J. Alex Thier, the director for Afghanistan and Pakistan affairs and assistant to the administrator of USAID, said the agency has begun a review process of all its projects in Afghanistan in line with the new sustainability guidance for the Asian country that USAID issued in June.

The guidance came amid calls by the U.S. Congress, World Bank, Oxfam and other organizations for increased focus on sustainability in light of the ongoing pullout of international forces and aid.

USAID’s new portfolio will include investments “in a few high capital investments, high impact programs” that will require significant financial and policy engagement in the initial phase that are programmed to wind down “once systems, institutions or infrastructures are in place or the private sector takes over.”

According to the guidance, USAID projects in the country should be “at least 80 percent aligned” with the Afghan National Development Strategy, according to Kabul Conference commitments.

“We recognize that there are trade-offs inherent in these solutions, but we also recognize that transition absent Afghan capacity and leadership is not transition,” Thier said.

The guidance, he added, will hopefully empower Afghans “to take control of their own development future.”

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  • Che

    Che de los Reyes

    As a senior staff writer, Che focuses on international development breaking news coverage as well as interviews and features. Prior to joining Devex, Che handled communications for local and international development NGOs and government institutions in the Philippines.