US Review on Afghan Strategy Notes Lagging Governance Gains

The U.S. Agency for International Development is in no rush to scale up its direct support to Afghan ministries, if it means accountability will suffer.

An annual review of the U.S. strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan finds that governance remains a challenge in Afghanistan, said Frank Ruggiero, the USAID acting special representative for the two countries, in a State Department press conference on Dec. 16.

Strong governance is necessary to transition leadership to Afghans in communities that the U.S. has cleared “militarily,” Ruggiero said, noting that the U.S. is working to rebuild local security and adjudication systems in the Islamic nation.

USAID is also helping to certify ministries to strengthen their capacities in implementing specific programs. The process of ministry certification involves the U.S. and other donors channeling funding through Afghan ministries for specific programs, according to USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for Afghanistan and Pakistan Alex Thier.

In 2009, USAID channeled 13 percent of its aid for Afghanistan through Afghan government sources and doubled the volume this year to 27.5 percent, Thier said.

“We continue on pace to reach some of the targets that we outlined at the Kabul conference last summer in July,” Thier said during the media briefing.  

USAID currently has funding mechanisms with six different Afghan ministries.

“This year, we’ve added programs with the ministry of education and the ministry of agriculture that didn’t previously exist, and that – undertaking that process is an intensive examination whether they have the resources to manage the funds, to do it accountably, and to implement the programs that we’ve agreed on,” Thier added.

He added: “Everything that we do is done with a very strict measure of accountability, and we have no interest in rushing that at the expense of accountability.”

The annual review of the U.S. government’s strategy on Afghanistan and Pakistan proposes a more robust dialogue with both countries to promote peace and stability in the region. The U.S. government will hold another session of the U.S.-Afghanistan-Pakistan trilateral dialogue early next year. 

About the author

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    Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.