Does Afghanistan need international aid?
text: Oleg Sidorov , exclusively for Gazeta.kz
The international community personified by the West in general and the USA in particular, is constantly reminding about its own achievements in Central Asia.
For example, the achievements reached by the antiterrorist coalition in the establishment of constitutional order and commencement of democratic society construction in Afghanistan - the country that until recently was associated with terrorist bases and world's leading heroin production.
How much do these statements comply with the current Afghanistan's reality?
At the moment this country even despite the presence of Western and US troops remains the most vulnerable country in the context of the regional security.
Moreover, political processes taking place in this state are directly or indirectly influencing the situation in Central Asia. It is due not only to the common border between Afghanistan and other Central Asian states, but also to the ethnic composition of the Afghan population. The biggest ethnic groups are the following: Pashtuns - 38% of the entire country's population, Tajiks - 25%, Uzbeks - 6%, Khazars - 19%.
The situation and the interior political climate in Afghanistan depend directly on the international community, on the steps to be undertaken by the coalition and international organisations.
But the facts show that it is not an intention of the West and the USA in particular to really help Afghanistan, issuing completely declarative resolutions on Afghanistan at different international meetings.
And the undertaken concrete measures on improvement of the socio-political situation and economic climate of Afghanistan did not go further than clamorous statements by world's political leaders.
Thus, the financial aid to Afghanistan was 7-8 times less, than it was declared by the international community, it amounted to 4.2 billion USD. 27 billion USD are needed to raise the economy of Afghanistan, which is much more than the donor countries can offer.
Last year the international aid was promised to Afghanistan in the amounts of 9 billion USD and the US aid - in the amount of 1.2 billion USD. But the promises contradicted the reality.
It should be noted that in 2004 there was an analogous picture, when the international investments amounted to only 1 billion USD, of which 470 million were made by… Turkey.
And although the international community more than once declared that Taliban and other terrorist organisations and movements stopped their activities - the facts show difference.
And as a consequence the guerrilla activities of commanders and militants of "Taliban" and "Al Qaida" today is a destabilising factor influencing the development of Afghanistan.
It is interesting to note the activities of the so-called "third sector" in Afghanistan.
As a result of conferences held in Bonn and Beijing the world community promised to Afghanistan aid in the amount of 12.5 billion USD. 80% of that aid had to be flow into the Afghan economy through NGO of these countries.
Afghanistan received 20% of this amount in total. This fact, as well as the fact of financing the Afghan NGO instead of the government, served as a reason for a slow development of the Afghan economy impeding the process of socio-political stabilisation of the Afghan society.
Moreover, it should be noted that there have been many examples when the NGO were spending money not on purpose.
2,300 NGO worked in Afghanistan until recently.
1,600 NGO were recently closed because 80% of the grants received by the NGO were spent not for the stated purposes.
As a result no social programme was implemented in Afghanistan concerning problems of the local population, no factory was built, which would be able to bring profits to the Afghan economy. Provinces could not even organise irrigation of the arable land.
In this case the role of international organisations, which are active on the territory of Afghanistan should be noted. As a result, official authorities more than once stated their disagreement with the economic policy of international NGO operating on the territory of Afghanistan.
It became visible before the beginning of the international conference that took place last January in London when Kabul raised the issue of revision of the scheme of financial aid allocated for the recovery of Afghanistan.
This reaction on the part of Afghanistan can be explained very simply - international organisations, responsible for the country's recovery, spend around 80% of their budget for salaries, rent, transport, securities, and royalties to foreign specialists.
At the same time for the funds allocated by the international community Afghanistan can by itself build much more facilities than many international organisations.
Ashraf Gani Ahmadzai, head of Kabul University, quotes one example of the rational use of the international financial aid by foreign organisations. The USAID spent 190 million USD for Kabul-Kandahar road construction, when Afghan authorities could build it for 35 million USD.
Another example is the construction of a secondary school when the Afghan authorities could spend 40 thousand USD, but the international community, attracting international NGO, allocates an amount that is six times bigger, i.e. 250 thousand USD. The biggest part of this amount is spent for salaries, accommodation, catering, security of foreign specialists. Thus the international community plans to build up other 500 schools in Afghanistan…
However, despite the 30-year war, Afghanistan in four years was capable of restoring 50% of the state budget at the expense of its incomes. Of course, many can ask a question - where does an agricultural country find moneyfor such breakthrough in the economy, but I think that the response to this question is at the surface, it is enough to make a trip around Mazar-i-Sharif suburbs, Shibirgan, or Faizabad and see what peasants grow.
It becomes obvious that the promised aid of the international community to Afghanistan is actually pursuing not the aid in itself, but the aid based on support of its structures represented by international organisations and financing of their own employees and specialists, whose work could as well be performed by local qualified personnel.
Therefore a reasonable question arises - why should Afghanistan need this aid and who really profits from it?
Photo from http://middleeast.org.ua
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