US Watchdog Urges Improvement of US Strategy in Afghanistan

The General Accounting Office (GAO) recently issued a report stating that while US humanitarian and short-term assistance benefited Afghanistan in fiscal years 2002 and 2003, longer-term reconstruction projects achieved limited results due to late funding and lack of a comprehensive reconstruction strategy. The report, entitled “Afghanistan Reconstruction: Deteriorating Security and Limited Resources Have Impeded Progress; Improvements in US Strategy Needed,” asserts that in fiscal years 2002-2003 “the post-conflict environment in Afghanistan threatened progress toward US policy goals, and poor security, increasing opium cultivation, and inadequate resources impeded US reconstruction efforts.” In addition, the report states that the “United States used warlord-commanded militias in its continuing counterinsurgency effort against the Taliban” despite warnings from the US Department of State and a leading human rights organization that “the criminality of the warlord’s private armies destabilize[s] the country and impede[s] reconstruction.”

The GAO is urging USAID to revise its operation strategy for its assistance programs in Afghanistan and the Department of State to report to Congress semiannually on all obligations and expenditures for assistance to Afghanistan “in order to determine the extent to which US assistance dollars are being used to achieve measurable results on the ground.” Another problem the GAO found that hindered US reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan during FY2002-2003 included “the small staff size, inadequate working conditions, and the timing of funding for reconstruction activities.”

According to the report, Afghanistan has approximately one health facility per 27,000 people, and nearly 40 percent of the existing clinics providing basis care employ no female health workers. The GAO also noted that several girls’ schools have been set on fire to protest the education of women. The Feminist Majority is leading the call for increased reconstruction funding and for more resources to support the work of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Independent Human Rights Commission.

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GAO report 6/2/04; Feminist Majority

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