Date: Tue May 12 2009 - 23:39:49 EDT
Ugly truth about foreign aid in Afghanistan
Global Research, May 12, 2009
Press TV - 2009-05-10
Exorbitant sums of international aid to Afghanistan are being lavished by
Western aid agencies on their own officials in the conflict-stricken
"In the United States, Britain, and other countries, people work and
taxpayers pay money that goes to help Afghanistan to build roads, dams, and
electricity lines," Ramazan Bashardost, an Afghan parliament member and
former planning minister, said.
Bashardost added, "But when the money comes to Afghanistan, it's spent on
those people who have cars costing USD 60,000 and who live in houses with a
USD 15,000 monthly rent. This money goes to these expenses -- 90 percent
logistics and administration."
The high expenditure on paying, protecting and accommodating Western aid
officials in palatial style helps to explain why Afghanistan ranks 174th
out of 178th on a UN ranking of countries' wealth.
Districts across Afghan capital city, Kabul, have been taken over or
rebuilt to accommodate Westerners working for aid agencies or embassies.
"I have just rented out this building for USD 30,000 a month to an aid
organization. It was so expensive because it has 24 rooms with en-suite
bathrooms as well as armored doors and bullet-proof windows," Torialai
Bahadery, the director of Property Consulting Afghanistan said.
The cupidity of aid agencies and the foreign contractors that every bedroom
should have an en-suite bathroom comes despite the fact that 77 percent of
Afghans lack access to clean water.
At a time when extreme poverty is turning young Afghans to fight for the
Taliban, foreign consultants in Kabul can command salaries of USD 250,000
to USD 500,000 a year.
The high degree of wastage of aid money in Afghanistan has even troubled
the Afghan government.
"I was in Badakhshan province in northern Afghanistan, which has a
population of 830,000, most of whom depend on farming," said Matt Waldman,
the head of policy and advocacy for Oxfam in Kabul.
"The entire budget of the local department of agriculture, irrigation and
livestock, which is extremely important for farmers in Badakhshan, is just
USD 40,000. This would be the pay of an expatriate consultant in Kabul for
a few months."
The ugly truth about foreign aid in Afghanistan surfaces at the time when
the country has seen rising levels of violence in recent months. Taliban
insurgents have carried out a string of deadly attacks and now control
large parts of the countryside where Afghan and international forces do not
have enough manpower to maintain a permanent presence.