• UK government report urges shift in aid priorities for Afghanistan

UK government report urges shift in aid priorities for Afghanistan

25 October 2012

A new UK parliamentary report recommends that the British government revise its aid priorities in Afghanistan, giving greater emphasis to humanitarian aid, providing basic services and alleviating poverty.

The International Development Committee’s report  “Afghanistan: Development progress and prospects after 2014”  called for more to be done to meet the needs of vulnerable Afghan communities as international forces prepare to leave the country.

It recommends that the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) reconsider its current policy of trying to build a “viable state” in Afghanistan and instead give higher priority to humanitarian and development projects.

According to Committee Chairman Sir Malcolm Bruce, “It is questionable whether DFID has the capacity to build a viable state, but it should be able to deliver effective development.”

HUMANITARIAN PRIORITIES

Specifically, it said higher priority should be given to humanitarian work to help around half a million internally displaced people and large numbers of malnourished children.  It also recommended tackling the underlying causes of such crises, warning that if transition does not go smoothly they will get worse.  

It added that more attention should also be paid to addressing rural poverty, particularly in areas most often hit by natural disasters.

The Committee stressed that priority should be given to the needs of women, pointing out that despite the gains made since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, Afghan women’s status remains amongst the worst in the world.

It recommended that greater emphasis should be put on improving girls’ education, and on combating violence against women by supporting women's shelters and legal services. 

It also recommended providing more adult and secondary education and stressed the importance of community based teaching and vocational training to benefit the rural poor.

The report stressed that the UK may need to take a more flexible approach to aid in the future, saying NGOs would be likely to play an increasingly important role.

 BAAG'S RESPONSE

BAAG has welcomed the report, which echoed many of the suggestions put forward by its member agencies over recent years.

"More and more Afghans are living a precarious existence," said BAAG Director Jawed Nader. "Half a million are displaced, hundreds of thousands more are forced to live in areas plagued by natural disasters.  A third live below the poverty line, 55 per cent of children under five are stunted."

“These statistics highlight the huge amount of work still to be done,” he said. “We need a fresh approach and more targeted policies, not just to alleviate suffering, but to meet Afghanistan’s long-term development needs.”

To read the full IDC report  click here