News / Asia

Some US Aid to Afghanistan Leads to Negative Results

Afghan women stretch for food donations from the World Food Programme (WFP) in Kabul, (File)
Afghan women stretch for food donations from the World Food Programme (WFP) in Kabul, (File)

Just weeks before United States President Barack Obama announced plans to draw down  U.S. troops  in Afghanistan, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee issued a report saying the close to $19 billion in U.S. aid to Afghanistan has been met with success, but the money could have unintended negative consequences.  One Los Angeles based aid organization says it is operating in a way that avoids some of the negative results of helping  Afghan people. 

Money raised for humanitarian aid

Software and Internet entrepreneur Jim Hake is helping the U.S. military in Afghanistan by buying notebooks, pencils and many other things. "Soldiers and Marines tell us what they need to help the local people.  They tell us about sewing machines that are needed for Afghan women, school supplies for local children, tools for men,” stated Hake.

Hake founded Spirit of America, a Los Angeles-based organization that receives private donations through the Internet and uses all of that money to buy supplies for the Afghans.  The organization buys most of the needed items in Afghanistan to help the local economy.   Hake says the goal is to help the U.S. military built strong relationships with the local people in Afghanistan.

“We can all think of situations where we met someone who helped us. You have a very different impression of that person once you have that personal connection that personal interaction,” he said.

“The aid projects are very well intended.  But unfortunately many of them also had unintended consequences,” Andrew Wilder stated. Wilder, of the U.S. Institute of Peace has been studying the effects of aid in Afghanistan.  “We found that a lot of development assistance can be effective in achieving development objectives but it’s not effective at achieving the stabilization and security objectives,” he said.

Aid risks, unintended consequences

A recent report by the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, found that stabilization projects may have short-term results, such as developing relationships with the community and providing useful intelligence, but too much aid can destabilize the local economies and even create a recession as the U.S. decreases its presence there.

“We’ve created a war and aid bubble economy and now as we’re transitioning out, there’s a real risk that that’s going to pop,” noted Wilder.

The World Bank estimates 97 percent of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product comes from spending related to the presence of the international military and of aid organizations working to help the local population.

Lack of checks and balances

The money from most international donors, including the U.S. does not go through the Afghan government.  The report warns that it weakens the government’s ability to control resources and can fuel corruption.  The report says another side effect is that there are thousands of individual projects in Afghanistan with no plans for being sustainable.

But Jim Hake says not every project needs to be long term.

“Sustainability is an important concept but it can sometimes be misapplied.  Misapplied in that sustainability is not always important.  Initial stability - it’s a process to get a country like Afghanistan, or even a village, to the point where it is self sustaining and peaceful,“ he said.

Hake says once stability is achieved, Afghan security forces can take over and the aid project is no longer necessary.

As to corruption, Hake says his organization works on smaller scale projects so he knows exactly where the money goes.

“We don’t have layers of subcontractors when we source goods in Afghanistan we’re doing it directly with our personnel and the source of those goods,” he explained.

But challenges remain for the foreign aid currently flowing into Afghanistan.

Andrew Wilder advocates a slow decrease of funding over time to avoid a sudden drop in aid.  He says the money that goes to Afghanistan should be channeled through the Afghan government to give it more control over its resources.

"It is important for donors to support these national programs, and have checks and balances and mechanisms to ensure accountability. But they have much better likelihood of surviving longer term and being sustained than programs that were conceived outside of government budget,“ he said.

The recent U.S. Senate report says it is important to have continued oversight of aid to the Afghan government and funding should continue only if the government makes progress in fighting corruption and stabilizing its financial system.

You May Like

Video Egyptian Journalists Call for Freedom of Press

Despite release of al-Jazeera journalists and others, Egyptian Journalist Syndicate says some remain imprisoned More

Turkey Survey Indicates Traditional Distrusts, Shift to the West

Comprehensive public opinion survey also found a large majority of those interviewed distrust all countries other than country’s neighbor, Azerbaijan More

Pakistan Court Upholds Death Sentence in Blasphemy Killing

Highest court upholds sentence of Mumtaz Qadri convicted of 2011 killing a provincial governor for criticizing country’s controversial blasphemy law More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making a Minti
October 07, 2015 4:17 AM
While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Music Brings Generations Together

When musicians over the age of 50 headline a rock concert, you expect to see baby boomer fans in the audience. Boomer rock stars have boomer fans. Millennial rock stars have millennial fans. But this isn’t always the case. Take the Lockn’ Music festival which took place in mid-September in rural Arrington, Virginia. Here, Jacquelyn de Phillips discovered two generations of people who are considered quite different in the outside world, spending 4 days together in music-loving harmony.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs