USAID shifts 35 percent of Afghan aid to government

Afghan Finance Minister Omer Zakhilwal (seated, center) signs a joint statement with USAID Mission Director Earl Gast and Afghan Education Minister Ghulam Farooq to expand opportunies for direct financial support from USAID on June 2011. USAID signed an agreement with the Ministry of Finance of Afghanistan to increase the aid it courses through the Afghan government to 35 percent.Photo by: US Embassy Kabul Afghanistan / CC BY-ND

There is no telling if the alleged corruption concerning international aid in Afghanistan will decrease in the latest agreement between the government and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

On Wednesday (Feb. 1), USAID signed an agreement with the Ministry of Finance of Afghanistan to increase the aid it courses through the Afghan government to 35 percent. The agreement comes amid growing concerns and objections on nongovernmental organizations’ use of aid. Afghan officials said aid through NGOs paves the way for “outspread” corruption in Afghanistan.

Afghan Finance Minister Omer Zakhilwal said the agreement reached with USAID will see the agency spending $1 billion of its funds through the government. This means NGOs, which usually get 80 percent of the funds, will see a decrease in foreign aid.

The amount is close to what the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said is needed — more than $1.5 billion — to implement a new approach to encourage Afghan refugees to return to their country. Many Afghan refugees are reluctant to return because they fear the country’s security forces will be unable to take firm control once foreign troops leave in 2014, Reuters reports.

“A lot of investment has been made in Afghanistan but that investment has not been concentrated in creating conditions for people to feel they can go back, for that return to be sustainable,” commissioner Antonio Guterres told Reuters.

The Afghan government’s perceived lack of capacity, meanwhile, has made other donor countries hesitate in coursing much of their funds through the government, Khaama Press says.

USAID funds to Afghanistan have come under the spotlight lately. A controversial op-ed for Politico noted 70 cents of every U.S. aid dollar spent in Afghanistan go to NGO overhead.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.