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Balanced Economic Conditions Will Guarantee Peace In Afghanistan, 08 February 2002 By N.R.Liwal
2002-02-08 00:00:00
Note to the reader:
My this article lead to the establishment of The Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) in July of 2002, a multi-billion dollar fund for the World Bank and the Afghanistan government! I am glad that the TRUST FUND part of my article is fully adopted and no wonder that the TRUST FUND CHANNEL portion was drastically modified, that could be one of the reasons the Afghanistan government is consistently achieving 10-16 out of 100 points on the CIP since then! It is pleasing that the name I recommended AFGHAN REHABILITATION AND RECONSTRUCTION TRUST FUND was adopted with minor changes and becoming THE AFGHANISTAN RECONSTRUCTION TRUST FUND! This happened exactly six months after the dissemination of my article.

We are thankful to the International community committing more then $4 billions for rehabilitation and reconstruction of Afghanistan. Now it is crucial to adopt a strategy for allocation and spending. As it has done in past, the foreign aid can worsen the conditions if not spend properly. In following paragraphs, I tried to present a strategy from an Afghan prospective.
Afghanistan is a war-torn country with majority of its young generation. Who were supposed to be today’s skilled and even highly skilled manpower are trained and supported by foreigners as factional war militants. The training and support of these militants was in undisciplined manner but ethnic, religiously and linguistically motivated, without respect to Afghan national values, the most challenged task is to rehabilitate these irresponsible and un-accountable militants into productive members of the Afghan society.
Presently 50% of the Afghan population is migrated to neighboring countries or internally displaced, 70% malnourished and many traumatized, more then 11% are severe disabled, most illiterate where less then 5% can read and write.
During the last three decades those who were engaged in Afghanistan, be former Soviet Union, Afghan factions and the present United Stats and their allies, all insisted on achievements of military and strategically important objectives but ignored proper political settlements to the Afghan issue. Also many totally disregarded any responsibility toward reconstruction and rehabilitation of Afghanistan.
In many cases Afghans are offered assistance of billions, but received in form of foreign experts and materials not needed by Afghans; as expenses of an ideal Afghan government wanted by the supporters; or in form of expired commodities; or like bombs and food drops together. Which further added to the problems of Afghans, region and international community.
Those who were militarily failed in Afghanistan are defeated forever, but those who were successful tried their Afghan experiences somewhere else, which was complete failure, good example is the recent Taliban who tried their Afghan militant supremacy in many other countries. Afghanistan is historically and emotionally strong but not militarily, technically and economically. Experiences gained in Afghanistan be social, military or developmental are not applicable in other countries or vice versa.
Afghanistan at least needed more then double of the resources for political settlements, rehabilitation and reconstructions, which are spent on military campaign at any given time. But no one is ready to commit and provide that in real. After the successful Air strikes of the US and their allies now “the message from western governments is that Afghanistan must be patient - it will take time to drag the country from the 15th century into the 21st”.
The UN estimates that Afghanistan needs $100m within days, just to cover wage for the next six months. Others estimate that Afghanistan needs $5bn over the next two and half years to begin economic recovery, and $15bn over 10 years for long term development. The interim government, led by Mr.Hamid Karzai, has requested $45bn from international donors to put the country back on her feet. This may prove a more realistic estimate of how much the country needs.
20 years of war, three years of famine and foreign interference brought the Afghan economy to a state of collapse. In Afghanistan economic rehabilitation & peace building process should go together, balanced economic conditions would guarantee peace and security.
At present active players and funding source for rehabilitation and reconstruction of Afghanistan can be categorized into two. 1) Donors governments and United Nations.
2) International community through International NGOs. It’s recommended that donor governments and United Nations in collaboration with Afghan government form a “Trust Fund” and International NGOs in cooperation with Afghan government form a “Trust Fund Channel”.
The “Trust Fund” which can be called Afghan Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Trust Fund, also recommended by World Bank, United National Development Program and Asian Development Bank. The fund should be technically managed and administered by Trust Fund to which Afghan government should be a partner. The Trust Fund will help the Afghan government in allocating and spending the fund for physical and institutional, mainly Infrastructures reconstruction like roads, highways, education, government institutions, telecommunications and etc.
Another Area the Fund Trust should assist is the human resource development. Without human resource on every level the challenged job is the implementation of reconstruction program. We have great needs, but we also lack the ability to spend the money. In the past improper allocation of outside help in one and another form developed ethnic and regional powers, which are at present problem for Afghanistan as well as international community. They may develop in future too if distribution of fund continues without accountability.
For international community to empower the Afghan community a Micro Credit Bank will be the best option. The Trust Fund may create and support the bank with provision of Micro Credits for deprived population and community projects. The banks should also offer low interest loans to successful business and developments.
Both Trust Fund and Afghan government should have monitoring and evaluating access to the bank’s activities but should have no access to the bank assets.
International NGOs in cooperation with Afghan government and community should form “Trust Fund Channel” which will lead to empower the community and accountability. Also empower the communities to cooperate with NGOs.
The “Trust fund Channel” should establish a High-tech center in Kabul and branches on provincial level with provision of touch screen Databases having statistics, reports and information about, planned, on going and completed projects.
The community member, Afghan National NGOs and contactors will identify problems and submit request to “Trust Fund Channel Center” Trust will input them into database and should be accessible to everyone.
The Trust Fund Channel will have the international NGOs as funding partners and Afghan National NGOs and business as implementing partners. Who should compete for the implementation of projects, where community, government agencies, funding partners will have monitoring and reporting rights on the Trust Fund Channel will provide the platform for all.
In addition to the technical, data analyst and data entry officers, the Trust Fund Channel must also have a monitoring and confirmation cell, who’s task will be evaluation, monitoring and comments on disputed projects and monitoring to maintain quality of database. All the Trust Fund Channel officials should be paid generously in return for devoting a substantial term of service to this difficult and dangerous task, everything possible should be done to establish their position, prestige and security.
There is a gap between the NGOs and Afghan community. The community believes that during the last two decades International agencies and NGOs acted like parallel governments in Afghanistan. NGOs are over-estimating their services to the Afghan community and judge their services by provision of high salaries to few Afghan experts. Although their support is appreciated but was ineffective because of duplication and no sustainability, was bad in quality and worse in accountability.
In Afghanistan the big danger the governments face from NGOs is the attraction of Afghan experts, offering them highly paid Jobs, NGOs hire the best. Therefore, the government functions are carried out by less capable ones. Also in many cases NGOs have challenged the government programs and acted like ministries. Alrasheed Trust an NGO is a good example who challenging the United Nations Programs in Afghanistan. Also the support of Western NGOs to Afghan resistance groups fighting against Soviet Unions and the then communist regime should be kept in mind.
Like most other sectors the business community in Afghanistan is mostly suffered and it should benefit from rehabilitation and reconstruction activities. But in many cases NGOs are found of unfair competition with business, in unfair competition a opportunity for establishing a long timer business oriented service is lost and sooner or later the NGO will leave and the community is left without services.
We have few Afghan experts who are mostly engaged in non-formal trade, NGOs and more then 50% are in exile. The International NGOs should not try to compete with them but try to build their capacities and encourage them to return.

N.R.Liwal, an Afghan, freelance writer and Information Technology consultant, worked with Afghan resistance groups, run and worked with NGOs, severed in United Nations Agencies for Afghanistan and is currently running IT business, as consultant to many Afghan and International NGOs, UN agencies, Afghan factions, communities and governments is enjoying wider contact within the Afghan community. He can be contact via email