US Aid Tracking in Afghanistan Goes Digital

    In one of the world’s most dangerous places, tracking aid has gone digital.

    Even in a conflict zone like Afghanistan’s Helmand province, now the center of NATO’s anti-terror operations, project oversight has become possible with the use of GPS cameras. U.S. charity Mercy Corps, which implements projects of the U.S. Agency for International Development, has been using this technology to check on aid projects in areas where sending expatriate staff was too risky.

    Under this remote oversight scheme, Mercy Corps send Afghan staff with GPS cameras are sent to project sites to document progress and track personnel. The data is then uploaded to Google Earth for project officers to see online.

    Mercy Corps’ John Stephens told that the system “extends the reach of our program managers” and allows the organization to “expand the service to communities where it’s too insecure to work, or too remote.”

    Earlier this month, USAID drew criticism for lack of oversight in Afghanistan after contractors told the U.S. Senate that aid officials skipped site visits and usually checked on the progress of projects through email.

    About the author

    • Tarra Quismundo

      Tarra Quismundo joined Devex Manila as a staff writer in October 2009 after more than six years of working as a reporter for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, a nationwide daily, for which she covered major breaking news in politics, military, police and international affairs. Tarra's Devex News coverage focuses on key Asian donors and top aid officials around the globe.