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Aid to Afghanistan

July 8, 2012

Afghanistan had hoped to get more financial aid from the Tokyo donor conference. But politicians and activists called for funding to be controlled not by Kabul but by aid organizations and donors to press for reforms.


For weeks, Afghan media had their focus set on Sunday's donor conference in Tokyo. Many Afghans knew that the conference would have a significant impact on the future of their country for years after the withdrawal of Western troops. Many hopes were pinned on the international community giving a clear signal for long-term cooperation with the Afghan people, 23-year old student Rostam Yaqubi told DW.

"Our country still needs help from abroad. I hope that we will continue getting this help, so we can continue with rebuilding our country."

Major donors pledged $16 billion (12 billon euros) in development over the next four years, as they seek to prevent AFghanistan from sliding back into chaos when foreign troops leave. But, they have demanded reforms to fight corruption.

Aid and investment

When in January 2002 the first Afghanistan conference took place just after the fall of the Taliban regime, the country had been almost completely destroyed by 20 years of war and civil war. Back then, the international community decided to give around 5.4 billion dollars for civil reconstruction efforts. More billions came in the years to follow. Kabul hopes that the Tokyo conference will once again lead to similar success.

Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai wants more control over the internatinal aidImage: DW / Faskhutdinov

"We also hope that private investors will find their way to Kabul," said Afghan Finance Minister Omar Zakhelwal. In particular, he wants to boost the country's economy. But it's exactly this that the Taliban try to prevent with an increasing number of attacks.

"Our enemies fear the economic development in the country. In light of this, they want to create an atmosphere of fear."

They will though, he added, not succeed in this. Zakhelwal is certain that the international community will not give up on Afghanistan after the 2014 withdrawal. In fact, before the conference many countries had already said they would continue their aid to Kabul for the years to come.

Managing the aid money

Afghan President Hamid Karzai had clear plans for the Tokyo conference: What he wants is that the government in Kabul will in future be able to decide about the use of at least 50 percent of the foreign aid coming into the country. So far, the authorities can only spend some 20 percent themselves. The rest remains in control of foreign aid organizations. In light of the wide-spread corruption in the country, the donor countries so far have not been willing to give the money to the Afghan government alone.

"The Afghan government has in the last ten years again and again promised that it will crack donw on corruption but nothring has really happened," said Abdulgayum Sajadi, member of the country's parliament.

Afghan woman with baby
Afghanistan has suffered 20 years of war and conflictImage: dapd

"The world will only support us if we really tackle the big problem of corruption."

Sajadi hopes that any aid money for his country will be tied to the development of the rule of law and democracy in the country.

Womens' rights

Woman activist and member of parliament Fauzia Kofi hopes that the Tokyo conference will strenthen women's rights in the country. Together with womens' rights groups she has sent a catalogue of demands to Tokyo.

"We're asking for the international community to use 30 percent of the aid money for direct support of the women of Afghanistan. Our country's women need help to fulfill their important role in the country."

Fauzia Kofi hopes to run against current President Hamid Karzai in the 2014 election. She hopes for the aid money to be given out only in close cooperation with the donor countries and only with links to concrete projects. International trust in the Karzai government is not too high – any future cooperation with Kabul will have to be thoroughly assessed by the donor countries.

Author: Shamel, Ratbil / ai
Editor: Carl Holm