July 28, 2016 – Nearly 950,000 Afghans displaced by the war against Taliban terrorists saw their replacement homes get demolished, despite receiving more than $67 million of U.S. funding, a government watchdog reported Thursday.
American taxpayers fund efforts to provide necessities like food, water, health care and shelter to Afghans displaced by the war, but local resistance and bureaucratic sludge have blocked those efforts, according to a Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction report.
The U.S. Agency for International Development, for example, funded 16 partners with more than $67 million for humanitarian assistance for displaced Afghans, who totaled 948,000 as of June 2015.
“Most of this assistance is used to provide [displaced persons] with logistics support and relief supplies, such as emergency shelter, hygiene kits and winter clothing, while the rest is spent on” management and access to health care food, water, sanitation and hygiene, the report said.
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Yet local Afghanistan governments resisted the efforts to provide new homes for displaced citizens. Local officials, for example, have rejected displaced persons’ “right to stay in their provinces and were more inclined to regard [them] as economic migrants who do not have the same rights, such as the right to food, water, adequate shelter, and health care, as other Afghans,” the report stated
Also, “some provincial governments generally insisted that settlements established to house [displaced citizens] were only temporary and demolished them,” the report said.
Meanwhile, an Afghan agency “has been slow to distribute land to applicants,” including displaced citizens, according to the report. Land had only been distributed to about 11 percent of the applicants as of October 2013.
Additionally, U.S.-funded private and charity groups, as well as international organizations, weren’t required to coordinate their assistance to displaced people. Consequently such groups couldn’t organize their efforts to provide services such as education and nutrition with each other, the United Nations or the Afghan government.
“Their primary reason for not requiring the [groups] they fund to coordinate their [displaced citizens] assistance efforts is to ensure that those organizations can focus on their humanitarian work rather than attending coordination meetings,” the report said.
In 2008, the Pentagon bought 20 refurbished cargo planes for the Afghan Air Force, but as one top US officer put it, “just about everything you can think of was wrong.” No spare parts, for example. The planes were also “a death trap,” according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. So $486 million was spent on worthless planes that no one could fly. We did recoup some of the investment. Sixteen of the planes were sold as scrap for the grand sum of $32,000. That’s 6 cents a pound.
Nothing happened to anybody in charge of that spectacular screw up. No general even had to make an embarrassing appearance on Capitol Hill. Congress made not a peep.
Chairs at a school built, but never occupied, were stripped for firewood.
“Pie in the sky” projects, as one USAID worker called them, were routinely launched without any thought to the financial and technological ability of the Afghans to maintain them. It turned out that the Afghans couldn’t afford most of them, so even the best programs could end up becoming waste.
None of the programs were required to prove they had even limited success. Officials tracked dollars spent, not impact. For instance, no one evaluated whether Afghan security forces actually learned to read and write after going through a $200 million literacy program.
Those who signed off on the failed projects appeared to suffer no consequences.
To set the scene, in 2010, as the US was drastically increasing its investment in Afghanistan, a quarter of America’s homeowners — more than 11 million — were underwater on their mortgages, and the country hovered near a 10 percent unemployment rate. Congress was routinely gutting federal programs.
The $14.7 million spent on a storage facility the military never used? That could have paid for about 9,800 rape kits to be tested — enough to clear the backlog for the entire state of Tennessee.
The $456,000 police-training facility that was so poorly constructed it literally melted in the rain? That could have funded more than 180,000 dinners for low-income kids, enough for an entire summer.
The $335 million spent on a power plant that the Afghans don’t use? That could have paid for permanent housing for 37,000 homeless Americans and $250,000 grants to 20 small-business owners to help them commercialize new technologies.
Eight inflatable boats were bought by the Pentagon in 2010 for $3 million, reports CBS News’ Chip Reid. They were to be used by the Afghan National Police to patrol a key river separating Afghanistan from Uzbekistan.
Today, however, they sit unused in a navy warehouse in Virginia.
U.S. special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction sent to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. In it, Special Inspector General John Sopko detailed how a contract worth $34 million was used to build a facility U.S. troops will never use.
Despite such trade-offs, there’s been little collective outrage from either the public or Congress about the massive waste in Afghanistan.