Billions of dollars in Western foreign aid to Afghanistan, including from Canada, has been lost to widespread waste, lax oversight and endemic corruption, a U.S. watchdog agency says.
The U.S. Special Inspector-General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said in a report to Congress that aid money has gone to build medical clinics without electricity or water, schools without children and buildings that literally melted away in the rain. Also, corrupt local officials who were in charge of paying workers with some of the funds created what the audits called “ghost workers,” civilian bureaucrats, police and soldiers who did not exist, then kept or diverted money recorded as being paid to them.
“There is a lot of corruption, [but] most of what we have identified are just head-smacking stupid programs and really poorly managed and no accountability. Nobody is really held accountable for wasting the money,” Special Inspector-General John Sopko said in an interview with The Globe and Mail.
Unlike the United States, Canada does not independently audit the money it puts into Western trust funds for international aid. But Mr. Sopko said he is certain the problems he identified for U.S. taxpayers are the same for Canadian taxpayers.
Nearly 2,400 U.S. soldiers have been killed fighting the Taliban, and 158 Canadians died before Canada pulled its combat troops out of Afghanistan in July, 2011. The Afghan government is still fighting intense battles across most of the country and millions of Afghans have been displaced.