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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    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.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora