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World

U.S. wasted billions of dollars on cars, buildings in Afghanistan: Report

  • A report by a U.S government watchdog has revealed that the United States wasted billions of dollars in reconstruction aid in Afghanistan on buildings and vehicles, that were either abandoned or destroyed.
  • Out of the $7.8 billion spent on buildings and vehicles since 2008, only $343.2 million worth were "maintained in good condition", according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).
Updated 01 Mar 2021

According to a report by a U.S government watchdog, it was revealed that the United States wasted billions of dollars in reconstruction aid in Afghanistan on buildings and vehicles, that were either abandoned or destroyed.

Out of the $7.8 billion spent on buildings and vehicles since 2008, only $343.2 million worth were "maintained in good condition", according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

The report stated that just $1.2 billion of the $7.8 billion went to pay for buildings and vehicles that were used as intended, and according to John F. Sopko, Special Inspector General, "The fact that so many capital assets wound up not used, deteriorated or abandoned should have been a major cause of concern for the agencies financing these projects".

U.S. agencies responsible for construction didn’t even ask the Afghans if they wanted or needed the buildings they ordered built, or if they had the technical ability to keep them running, Sopko stated in his report.

The waste occurred in violation of “multiple laws stating that U.S. agencies should not construct or procure capital assets until they can show that the benefiting country has the financial and technical resources and capability to use and maintain those assets effectively,” he said.

Torek Farhadi, a former adviser to the Afghan government, said a “donor-knows-best” mentality often prevailed and it routinely meant little to no consultation with the Afghan government on projects.

He said a lack of coordination among the many international donors aided the wastefulness. For example, he said schools were on occasion built alongside other newly constructed schools financed by other donors. The construction went ahead because once the decision was made — contract awarded and money allocated — the school was built regardless of the need, said Farhadi.

The injection of billions of dollars, largely unmonitored, fueled runaway corruption among both Afghans and international contractors. But experts say that despite the waste, the need for assistance is real, given the Afghan governments heavy dependence on international money.