Ugly truth about foreign aid in
Press TV / May 10, 2009
Exorbitant sums of international aid to Afghanistan
are being lavished by Western aid agencies on their
own officials in the conflict-stricken country.
"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.