A Canadian foreign-aid insider explains our $1.5-billion Afghan sinkhole

By Jonathan Kay
Oct 13, 2012 2:33 PM ET

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images

This morning, the front page of the National Post featured Tom Blackwell’s story about previously unreleased documents that assess Canada’s ambitious aid effort in Afghanistan. “Audits of the Canadian International Development Agency’s huge involvement in Kandahar and elsewhere in Afghanistan depict a well-meaning drive for results the government could boast about — a push that faced ‘intractable’ security problems, political pressures and the ‘vaguely envisaged’ challenge of building a new nation,” Blackwell writes.

“All the projects have failed. None of them have been successful,” notes Nipa Banerjee, who headed CIDA’s Afghanistan operations from 2003 to 2006. “I think we went into Kandahar to increase our international profile … rather than thinking about the interests of the people of Kandahar. It was too much politicized and militarized and securitized, and as a result we ended up with failure.”

It’s a sad story of wasted taxpayer money, and unfulfilled promises. Yet it is hardly unique. If anything, in fact, the whole Afghan aid fiasco is a fitting symbol of the existential problem that has burdened CIDA (which is now overseen by the Minister of International Cooperation) since its creation in the late 1960s.

continue reading: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/10/13/jonathan-kay-a-canadian-foreign-aid-insider-explains-our-1-5-billion-afghan-sinkhole/


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