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Too much aid given to Afghanistan is measured by input…

July 9, 2012

By Tim Foxley

Between Mazar and Sheberghan in 2008 (some of it was more bumpy than this…)

This story is worth reading in full as a good example of the more general points I was trying to make in the context of the Tokyo conference – too much aid given to Afghanistan is measured by input (“we have spent x billions dollars and built y kilometres of road”) rather than output (“we have built something that is of quality, is sustainable when we have gone and something that we demonstrated both before and after the project began that the Afghans wanted it, will use it and can maintain it on their own”).   Another example in the article is highlighted – the failure to bring hydro-electric power to the Kajaki region of Helmand by repairing the turbines of the Kajaki dam.  This was the subject of the biggest UK military operation since the Second World War – a major (and successful) military convoy to transport the turbine.  To be fair, I think the military were able to deliver their part (at great risk) and everyone else seemed to fail.

A flagship multimillion-pound highway linking Afghanistan’s major cities is of no use to the majority of the population and at risk of crumbling during the winter, a secret report presented to British ministers has warned.

The 2,700km “Highway 1”, largely bankrolled by American and Saudi millions, was seen as a symbol of Afghanistan’s emergence as a modern democratic nation after decades of oppressive rule and conflict. But senior figures within the Foreign Office (FCO) have questioned the priority given to the project – and the standard of the finished road.

A confidential paper under discussion in the department, seen by The Independent on Sunday, claims the road is not completely “metalled” with a durable surface, and has a layer of tarmac too thin to last an Afghan winter, leaving lengthy stretches in danger of disintegration. The document also complained that the highway was “of no value at all” to the vast majority of Afghans, who need better local roads to help them travel to towns closer to home.

But maybe it is too easy to criticise?   Highway One is known as the “Ring Road” – it is a roughly circular highway that goes around the mountain ranges of central Afghanistan and joins up all the major cities in the country – going clockwise: Mazar-e Sharif, Kabul, Kandahar and Herat.  Roads come off it – two into Pakistan and also into Iran and Central Asia.  Its a great idea if you want to develop the “New Silk Road” idea of Afghanistan as a major transport hub and link between Asia and Europe.  The points made against the project now – poor quality, not used by locals, attacked by insurgents – could perhaps have been picked up at the  time.  No Afghan road (or rail, now) will work if if goes through areas dominated by a virulent insurgency.  For the first few years after the Taliban’s removal, the security situation actually looked quite positive.

But I wonder, now that people seem to be queuing up to pick holes in it, where were they at the time – after all, the project has been ongoing for ten years?  Perhaps a large element of hindsight makes it easier to deconstruct the plan – particularly helped if you are not representing the government or NGO in office at the time the decisions were made.  It might be interesting to see what governments and aid agencies said about the project and its associated risks at the time…

2 Comments leave one →
  1. some afghan permalink
    July 15, 2012 3:11 pm

    These roads were built mainly because Nato required them to transport their heavy equipment, and for the quick dispatch of troops between cities. It is also true that it is a vital road network as all imported foods and supplies and other material that both westerners and local require, since there is hardly any industry that can produce it locally. Note that Afghanistan is the most expensive place to transport any goods to. A container from anywhere will cost $6000 minimum to transport to Kabul. This is because of Russia, former CIS lack of good transport, and Pakistani and Iranian high local transports, plus the fact that Afghan local transport along this highway 1 is controlled by local gangs that collect money from all commercial transport.
    The occupying forces that invaded Afghanistan illegally through their largely UN controlled collegues have not solved this problem, largely due to their corrupt approach to the Afghan issue, which is
    1. Opium, where the Afghans make $2-3 Billion and others banksters and criminals make $60B.
    2. Long terms military bases for the early deployment of troops weaponry against Iran and China, Even Pakistan is on their list.
    3. Long term eye on mineral resources in Afghanistan, especially rare earth and Uranium.
    4. Testing and display of power of military and training of Nato. Costs are cheaper.
    5. Illigitamate Extraction of reconstruction funds via large corporations, especially UK and US as displayed by the poor quality of construction and oversight. This is simply acheived via sub-contracting eg US Corp get the deal as contractor by paying either US Government Officials for the Job, then this is then contracted out via known firms they have worked with before at 30-40% of the contract price, eg. Lebonese firms that worked with CIA in the past and have ex-CIA associates. Then this is then contracted out to either Afghans Pakistanis, chinese or other less competent companies, for about 20-30% of the original cost.

    There you have it, with a puppet government and the siphoning out of government fund by few rouge blood sucking vultures placed in key positions and in control of western government bodies combined with a complete control of western media by Khasaria infedel breeds boils down to, a recipe for disaster, which in fact is what they have been working towards all these years. It is not the development of Afghanistan that is on their agenda, in fact is is the slow destruction of it, through:

    1. Lack of a legitamate government. With an illigitamate rigged election run by the UN.
    2. Corruption Everywhere, literally so that the next generation will only understand it as a norm, against all civility or Rule of Law.
    3. Lack of infrastructure, from roads to industry. Lack of jobs, unemployment.
    4. Creation of debt as in the rest of the world. Afghanistan has $20m of debts in 2001. Now it is B$15 in debt and counting.
    5. The sale of Afghan minerals without the consent or the participation of the people. The mineral laws was put together by the US and UK. All in the Ministry of Mines are hand picked and follow rules given to them by western advisors. Where is the afghan participation in this?

    I can go on and on.

    Does it not strike you as strange that the same people that are in government in afghanistan are the same people that where picked by the west as a care taker government. Who chose these people and why are thy still there if there is supposed to be a democracy. Well it goes like this.

    1. Disarm everyone, so that they can’t fight back, under austere aims that are totally false.
    2. Create a system of corruption that each position in government has to be bought by the individual that comes into that position. In other words all government positions are for sale. Next what will happen is that those people that paid for these positions have to collect money to pay for those positions. So it goes on.
    3. Create and arm those that help the west so that they can be put into the afghan parliament, so that the flow of opium never stops. Also anyone that dares to speak against the government are systematically killed off.

    And the excuses that they use through their Khasaria media is:

    1. Oh, we need schools for girls, … well great … we had them in the 50’s and 60’s so whats new.
    2. We need a miltary for the defence of the country. Why? to kill its people ?


  1. Ways of thinking about Afghanistan… « afghanhindsight

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