October 09, 2014
Corruption watchdog Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA) has released a report detailing the troubles with transparency and accountability that have bedeviled international aid and development programs in Afghanistan over the past 13 years. Afghanistan has been one of the world's biggest recipients of international aid over the last decade, but political and business corruption have become pervasive and helped stunt the country's potential for growth.
Out of 1,000 construction projects in at least 30 districts nationwide, the IWA report claims that in 60 percent of them the work was not fully completed and financial resources were embezzled. Drawing from the recently released aid transparency index, the IWA argues that donor countries have routinely failed to do what they need to do to help ensure their funds are not misappropriated.
"Because of the nonexistent statistics and information about the projects, the expenses of some of the projects are not known and this issue exists for many of the projects," IWA head Syed Ekram Afzali said.
Lack of public awareness about aid spending; insufficient coordination between donors and aid recipients; failure to properly monitor implementation of projects; inadequate statistics about spending; and the negligence of governments are among the chief causes IWA cites for the abundance of incomplete and corrupted development projects in Afghanistan.
"In some cases, the projects remained only on paper and the money allocated was embezzled; for instance, a plan was made on paper, but the building was not constructed or a road was left damaged," Afzali said. Meanwhile, Ministry of Finance (MoF) spokesman Abdul Qadir Jailani has assured that the government would be prepared to account for the 21 percent of aid funding that has been spent through the national budget.
The index of aid transparency, compiled by Publish What You Fund, indicates that the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has pursued the highest standards of transparency and accountability in its funding. On the other hand, China, Greece, Cyprus, Lithuania and Malta were among those who most lacked standards.