This latest GHA report sheds light on Afghanistan’s rapid transformation into the world’s leading recipient of aid and is the culmination of research and analysis drawing on data from a wide range of sources including the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA), governments involved in the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), aid data from the OECD DAC, the World Bank and UN agencies.
Some of the data used in the report is publicly available, but much of it is not. Accessing data for this report has been challenging and some of the figures included in the report are therefore partial and heavily qualified. If it is difficult enough for researchers to get hold of the full range of information about international resource flows to Afghanistan, tax payers in donor governments and perhaps most importantly, Afghan citizens and the GIRoA also face major challenges.
Encouragingly, in our conversations with the GIRoA, they were keen to point out that donor reporting and transparency have improved significantly throughout 2010. This follows a concerted campaign by the Ministry of Finance to advocate that donors at least report to the government what they are spending, to facilitate planning and rational allocation of funds, even if donors choose not to channel those funds through the government directly.
By far the most opaque area remains the aid-like resource flows that are not eligible as Official Development Assistance (ODA) under the OECD DAC criteria (more detail on this can be found in the report)– in this case mostly resources for building the security sector. We believe that aid ought to be understood in its full context, of which non-ODA resource flows are an important element. We estimate in the report that while aid has totalled US$26.7 billion between 2002 and 2009, non-ODA aid flows are at least US$16.1 billion, based on partial figures from a limited number of donor governments.
We hope that the report provides a broad contextual picture of resource flows, which also includes aid, private and domestic resource flows, and looks at the substantial costs of international military involvement which, for 2009, is estimated to be at least ten times greater than the aid investment.