SIGAR's new report shows neglect in counternarcotics efforts

    A member of the Afghan police force burns a pile of seized heroin. A SIGAR audit has revealed that some development efforts in the country have actually contributed to record levels of opium production. Photo by: U.S. Marine Corps / CC BY-NC

    Despite obligating $7.8 billion for counternarcotics efforts since 2002, the United States has only been able to provide “tangential” support to the Counternarcotics Police of Afghanistan, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction highlighted in its latest quarterly report released today.

    “U.S. assistance to the provincial units of the Counternarcotics Police of Afghanistan cannot be tracked and that the United States cannot determine whether its investment in these provincial units has helped them become a capable, self-reliant and sustainable force,” John Sopko, SIGAR’s special inspector general, noted in the report.

    The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime estimated that 209,000 hectares were used to grow opium poppy in 2013, Afghanistan’s highest production of opium since 2007. And with resources redirected to election security, eradication of poppy farms dropped 63 percent this year to just 2,692 hectares.

    In addition, the SIGAR audit pointed out that some development efforts — namely irrigation projects in the provinces — have actually contributed to record levels of opium production, as poppy farmers are now able to irrigate more effectively.

    SIGAR also found a lack of transparency in disbursement of funds to the Afghan National Security Force in the provinces, which remain underdeveloped despite more than $65 billion investment since 2002. SIGAR used to rely on reports from the International Security Assistance Force to determine successes and failures of U.S. investment in the Afghan security sector.

    On the other hand, the report praised the U.S. Agency for International Development for implementing approximately 80 percent of previous audit recommendations, a departure from criticism last year that USAID mishandled funds.

    With about $104 billion already appropriated since 2002, roughly $14.5 billion remains for Afghanistan’s reconstruction. A SIGAR official informed Devex that a “high-risk list” will hopefully be released in the next month, which among other things would note key development priorities.

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    About the author

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      Molly Anders

      Molly Anders is a former U.K. correspondent for Devex. Based in London, she reports on development finance trends with a focus on British and European institutions. She is especially interested in evidence-based development and women’s economic empowerment, as well as innovative financing for the protection of migrants and refugees. Molly is a former Fulbright Scholar and studied Arabic in Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco.

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