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Local involvement makes Afghanistan hydroectric project an aid success story

Page history last edited by Rosemary 12 years ago

A small hydroelectric project in eastern Afghanistan is supplying electricity to nearby houses and creating jobs, and appears to be an example of aid money well spent.

The project, financed by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to the tune of US$274,000, has seen the installation of a hydroelectric turbine in Sherzad District, Nangarhar Province, which produces 175 kilowatts of electricity per hour.

The electricity produced is sufficient to supply 1,400 nearby houses and is expected to help jumpstart three factories which will produce tomato paste and dry fruit, creating much needed local jobs.

“The opening of the factories will have significant impacts on economic growth here as it will help industrialize local agricultural commodities, create job opportunities and discourage poppy cultivation,” Noor Alaam, a local USAID employee, told IRIN.

Local people said the project was successful because it was designed and implemented in close consultation with the district council.

Not all donor-funded and implemented projects in the country are successful and transparent. Aid agencies such as Oxfam, the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR) and others, say despite some progress, international aid to Afghanistan has been “insufficient and in many cases wasteful or ineffective”.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), which has a mandate to help coordinate international aid, “wants all donors to ensure better transparency in aid disbursement and increasingly spend money through the government budget, and we also need the Afghan government to continue building capacity for improved aid management and disbursement,” UNAMA spokesman Aleem Siddique told IRIN on 11 June in Kabul.

The Ministry of Finance acknowledged the problem of weak capacity to manage the aid inflows in the past, but said the country was now capable of managing and disbursing large sums of aid. “In the past our domestic revenues were US$100-200 million annually, but now they have reached over US$800 million, which proves the growth of our fiscal and management capacity,” Ministry spokesman Aziz Shams told IRIN.

Of the $32 billion which international donors have spent on rebuilding and development projects in Afghanistan since 2002, only $6 billion has been channelled through the government, Shams told IRIN, adding: “We cannot account for the $26 billion which donors have spent through their own mechanisms in the past seven years.”

This story, entitled AFGHANISTAN: Aid success story in NangarharProvince and datelined Kabul June 18, 2009, was written and distributed by IRIN News, the humanitarian news agency.


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