Afghanistan is the country that has received the largest Swedish aid since the turn of the millennium. This money will help build civil society and strengthen the work for democracy – and the fight against corruption.
But according to the information received by DN, a large part of it may have gone to waste and corruption.
Much of Sidapengarna has passed through larger donor consortia – donor countries and agencies uniting to distribute aid to various projects. The largest of them is the World Bank ARTF, which has distributed more than 100 billion Swedish kronor in Afghanistan. Sweden contributed about $4.4 billion to this.
dn has during spring In contact with representatives of two civil organizations in Afghanistan that have received assistance through the World Bank Fund. Both describe a major problem with bribery. For help you have to pay.
– An Afghan “agent” or broker will contact you inviting you to apply for assistance and announce that if our organization agrees to deposit a significant part of the money that has been granted to us in a particular account, we will receive our approved application. Otherwise not. It all happens all the time, says an employee of an organization in Kabul.
This is how Swedish aid was distributed to Afghanistan last year
The aid of 1.05 billion Swedish kronor was distributed to 48 activities. The five biggest activities:
The employee describes how about 5, 10, or 15 percent of the assistance required by the “agent” could be and that organizations that refused to restrict their assistance.
– We have contacted other organizations to join forces and protest publicly, but everyone is afraid of getting rid of aid at that time. It is a kind of mafia activity, about which everyone is silent.
One of the organizations that received support From the World Bank Fund and the European Union and directly from CIDA is the APPRO in Kabul, which researches and works with societal strategies. There, Said Bartou is the head of the research department. He has visited Sweden several times to participate in consultations on Afghanistan and lecture to Sida and other organizations and Stockholm School of Economics.
He states that he was repeatedly approached personally by brokers who worked for corrupt CEOs within the European Union, USAID and the World Bank.
Said Barto was told that his organization could receive help if he set aside a certain percentage of the money – to the person who granted the aid. This phenomenon is called “percentage”. Each time he refused to agree to the plan, and each time the broker expressed his astonishment. The example believed to be the most shocking is a five-year, $32 million USAID-sponsored anti-corruption project.
– Although the project will work to combat corruption, the money was distributed through what everyone calls “percentages”.
– I reported the case to the European Union, but nothing happened. I was told that in the absence of compelling evidence, it was difficult to prove the perpetration of corruption, because that was my word against the accused. As for the USAID case, I contacted the anti-corruption committee of the top management. They also said they know something about percentages, but they can’t do anything without proof.
serious says: Is that this indicates the extent of corruption.
In order to be able to control whether or not someone is given assistance, the agent must collude with top international decision makers. This indicates that corruption is widespread in international aid organizations.
In an email to DN, the EU’s Ministry of Development Assistance press officials said the EU’s anti-corruption agency had investigated similar cases, followed up and, in some cases, recovered funds and reviewed how the projects were implemented.
The World Bank responds in an email that it takes all allegations of corruption seriously and investigates each case. An internationally recognized external auditor has been appointed to monitor the implementation of World Bank-supported programs in Afghanistan, the Bank states and continues:
“In an environment as complex as Afghanistan, the World Bank has robust systems in place to ensure that money is spent as intended and that programs deliver results for the population.”
Goran HolmqvistThe head of the Asia, Middle East and Humanitarian Aid Department in CIDA stated that he had not received any information about the percentages phenomenon.
The IAEA has its own independent group that investigates suspicions of corruption and is currently investigating 20 cases in Afghanistan.
– If we realize something like that, we’ll take it seriously. You have the opportunity to hear anonymously through our whistleblower function. But it is clear that evidence is needed for legal action or refunds.
American SIGAR Agency, The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, reporting to that Congress, has repeatedly raised serious issues of assistance to Afghanistan. In 2018, the World Bank fund was heavily criticized for its lack of follow-up. In last year’s report It is estimated that nearly a third of the audited projects that received US funding went to waste, fraud, and corruption.
Sida’s Goran Holmqvist read the reports and said the World Bank had taken certain measures to improve control.
Afghanistan was ranked last year As one of the 15 most corrupt countries in the world Transparency International .
According to DN sources, the underlying problem is well known within SIDA – massive corruption in the country. Described as a big dilemma where you have to do your best in an impossible situation, it includes risks.
In a 2015 report, SIDA said: That larger donor organizations mediating Sidapengar rarely report problems – instead there is ‘happy reporting’: failures are mitigated and in some cases funds continue to be paid to projects that have been halted for various reasons.
The Swedish Swedish Agency has contributed SEK 2.5 billion to more children’s access to education in Afghanistan. In 2015, it was found that the Afghan Ministry of Education had released false statistics to get more help. “Ghost schools”, which existed only on paper, are described with “ghost teachers” and “ghost students” in Afghan local media.
Goran Holmqvist confirms that there are cases of ghost schools funded by the World Bank Fund.
– But it’s not what you see between the fingers. Refunds requested from projects that turned out to be scams.
Together with Norway and Denmark And the United Kingdom, Sida joined forces and formed the Tawanmandi Donor Consortium in 2011, which will support, among other things, anti-corruption measures.
A source familiar with SIDA’s operations in Afghanistan describes that a local Afghan project manager in Tawanmandi suddenly drove around in luxury cars and that all the money “has gone.”
– The projects they presented on paper were fake. I reported this to Sida.
SIDA paid SEK 37.5 million to Tawanmandi between 2011-2013. Sida asserts that suspicions of corruption led to an investigation and that the project was stopped prematurely. Openaid is available on the Sida website, which will ensure transparency about development aid There are no described results or published documentation about the project.
This weekend in the DN discussion, Afghan scholar Adam Payne questioned why Sweden had not taken a more independent stance with its assistance to Afghanistan.
According to the government’s decision in May 3.3 billion Swedish kronor of Swedish aid will go to Afghanistan by 2024.
Regarding the Taliban’s quick takeover of power, SIDA is currently reviewing the support and cooperation it has in the country to see what efforts can continue. SIDA announced last week that it would stop all aid to the Afghan state.
– There will be efforts that are no longer possible and need to be phased out. Even those that we no longer want to implement – cooperation with the Afghan state. Then there are also new needs that need new efforts — humanitarian assistance will need to expand, and now we are doing everything we can to ensure the safety of individuals in our partners who are threatened by journalists in various ways, such as journalists and human resources activists, says Sida’s Goran Holmqvist.
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