Washington has appropriated nearly $73 billion for reconstruction and development in Afghanistan since 9/11, according to SIGAR’s October 2011 quarterly report, up $17 billion in each of the past two years. That’s a lot of money for our indebted nation.
for giving this aid. Maybe they do. Taxpayers, however, whether they support our efforts or not, still deserve answers to basic questions: Where has all this money gone? Has anyone verified it went where it was supposed to go? Is it cost effective to run aid programs in a war zone?
The answer is no. The money isn’t going where we think it is — and $73 billion is a ton of treasure to waste…
At USAID, for example, NGOs’ administrative costs at most programs are about 30 percent. This means, for every dollar from USAID, 70 cents goes to recipients on the ground and the NGO keeps 30 cents to cover overhead.
Thirty percent in administrative costs may sound high, but in Afghanistan, USAID has struggled to keep NGO overhead costs below 70 percent — more than double the norm. Costs can escalate when organizations operate in a war zone. But a mere 30 cents out of every dollar for Afghanistan goes to aid.
It gets worse.
Of that 30 cents, frequently only half reaches the intended recipient. The remainder is lost, stolen or misappropriated by Afghan workers and officials. Many projects don’t even attain their own internal goals, according to reports from inspectors general and the Commission on War-Time Contracting. The June 2011, Senate Foreign Relations Committee report concluded that few, if any, of these aid programs are sustainable in the long term.
Add in the cost of the USAID’s bureaucratic superstructure — including $500,000 annually for each U.S. employee in Kabul, and the supporting staffs in Washington — and sometimes less than 10 cents of every dollar actually goes to aiding Afghans.
I’m shocked, shocked I tell ya!