Reconstruction destruction

Much of the money spent on reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan since 2002 has been wasted.

In some cases reconstruction can be almost as wasteful as the destruction it is meant to repair.

The US has spent roughly US$3 billion on restoring Afghan schools and highways, but much of the work done has been futile, reports The Fiscal Times.

Two recent reports by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) show that reconstruction efforts have led to disappointing results. Money has been lost to corruption, lack of accountability and incompetence on the part of Afghan officials.

To rebuild the Afghan education system, which suffered from neglect under the Taliban and was thrown into chaos and largely destroyed as a result of the 2001 American invasion, the US has spent US$868 million. But a review of 25 schools in the Herat province found that attendance and staffing are often far lower than what Afghan administrators report. Officials told SIGAR that the 25 schools had an average enrollment of 2,639 students, while SIGAR found the actual number to be 561. One school that reported 1,200 enrolled students had only 10. A few schools lacked basic needs such as electricity and clean water.

 The rebuilding and repair of roads has swallowed more than US$2.8 billion. Yet SIGAR found that 20% of the roads have been destroyed by battles with resurgent Taliban forces and that 80% are in varying states of disrepair or deterioration. The whole vital artery of the Kabul-Kandahar highway is “beyond repair,” notes SIGAR. According to US Agency for International Development, the rebuilding of the Afghan road system would require an estimated US$8.3 billion.