Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Resource: Afghanistan: Enhancing aid effectiveness

The Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR) made a press release on 22 April that is wide-ranging and hard-hitting critique of aid effectiveness and the responsibility of donors in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan: Enhancing aid effectiveness focuses on the performance of donors in fulfilling their commitments under the Afghan Compact in three key areas: use of aid; transparency; and aid efficiency and use of Afghan resources.

As concerns Use of Aid, the comments question the agendas and means for the delivery of assistance:
'Evidence indicates that the delivery of aid is being increasingly distorted by donors' domestic political agendas. A disproportionately high level of aid is being directed towards opium intensive or insecure areas of Afghanistan, particularly the south and south-east, in order to achieve counter-narcotics or counter-insurgency objectives. For example, USAID, by far the largest donor, allocates more than half of its aid to four highly insecure provinces in southern Afghanistan. This approach overlooks massive development needs in areas which are comparatively stable and creates perverse incentives – for provinces to create insecurity to attract resources. It also overlooks the potential for conditions in these areas to deteriorate.

The delivery of aid is being heavily influenced by domestic political demands for rapid results. Provincial Reconstruction Teams, for instance, have in many cases undertaken quick impact projects or short term assistance at the expense of projects which aim at more sustainable capacity building. In other cases, under domestic political pressure donors have pressed recipients to spend large sums rapidly, with little consideration for the utility, suitability or sustainability of the projects undertaken.'

The notion of creating 'perverse incentives'- that provinces will create insecurity in order to attract assistance is probably not as far-fetched as it might sound.

The last recommendations is on Aid and humanitarian response, where ACBAR again attempts to overturn certain myths:
't is important for donors to acknowledge that much of Afghanistan is in the process of protracted relief and recovery, and not purely the development phase widely assumed. A two-track approach is needed. Humanitarian actors are increasingly unable to provide adequate protection and assistance to displaced people and other populations at risk in the south and east of Afghanistan due to the significant deterioration in the security situation. Humanitarian space and humanitarian access continues to be seriously limited. Humanitarian response has also been compromised over time by reduced humanitarian coordination mechanisms.'