Afghanistan has been plagued by war since the Soviet Military Intervention of the 1970s during the Cold War era. The 16-year civil war has impacted the foreign policies of many countries over the years. The fight between the Taliban insurgency and international collation forces has resulted in mass displacement, poverty, discrimination, human rights violations and destitution.
Despite the precarious stalemate reached, there were still an aggregate 3,500 civilian casualties last year, with insuperable pressure on humanitarian agencies and aid workers. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, over 296,000 individuals have been internally displaced since January 2017.
Foreign aid encompasses emergency assistance, food aid, military assistance and humanitarian and development aid. Consequently, foreign aid continues to be a vital question in solving the “Afghanistan Problem”, as it has been called. Even though foreign aid to Afghanistan has been quite successful over the years, with over 2.2 million individuals reached in the last quarter of 2017 alone, it is becoming a concern for stakeholder groups, organizations and countries involved. Phantom aid is an especially significant issue in Afghanistan, as it never reaches the correct source and fails to address poverty and other associated problems.
Even though Afghanistan’s GDP has been averaging around 3.6 percent annually since 2002 and the economy is showing progress, terrorism still remains one of the most pressing issues in the country. There are many splintered terrorist groups still existing in the country. For instance, the Haqqani Terrorist Network remains one the most hostile wings of the Taliban. Terrorist groups are blocking lines of communication in Afghanistan and further destabilizing the country. Army camps and soldier are imperiled by the threat of terrorism in the country. Owing to the recent surge in violence, the Red Cross is temporarily suspending its aid operations to protect aid workers and civilians.
However, many countries are coming forward to provide foreign aid to Afghanistan. China is coming close to matching the U.S. budget of foreign aid to Afghanistan and is one of the leading donors to the country. It is working with the World Food Programme to provide emergency food aid.
India is also a vital provider of sustainable foreign aid to Afghanistan. Since 2002, India has contributed a massive $2 billion in foreign aid to the country, both in civil and military assistance. India is also very involved in reconstruction and infrastructure projects in Afghanistan. The Salma Dam has been an especially crucial development. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is aiming to cement stronger ties with India. The two countries will collaborate on solving key issues like terrorism, and working towards political and economic strategies.
Furthermore, over 116 community projects will be developed in 31 major provinces in the realms of education, healthcare, flood control, renewable energy, agriculture and sanitation. India is also providing aid to fund 300 small development projects and working to bolster its military aid to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.
However, according to findings by Aiddata, aid efforts remain poor due to the lack of transparency and corruption in the provision of aid to the country and the motives of stakeholder groups involved. Existing immobilities in infrastructure and other aspects are debilitating the progress of foreign aid to Afghanistan. Improving two-way communication in communities in Afghanistan will greatly improve the provision of aid. Foreign aid to Afghanistan must be sustainable for the long-term recovery of the people and the economy, and building the resilience and capacity of governments and businesses.
– Shivani Ekkanath