“Over the past 10 years, Afghanistan has been one of the world’s main recipients of foreign aid. According to the Afghan government, a total of $57bn (£36bn) in aid has been spent in the country since the start of the US-led invasion in 2001.
Has the money been well spent? And what has it achieved? Advocates say millions of children are now getting an education, and point to a fast-growing economy. Critics counter that aid strategies have been distorted by military objectives, producing few sustainable results. They argue that Afghanistan’s economy is now deeply dependent on aid, which is likely to be scaled back significantly in the next few years.
What, if anything, will be left to show for the heavy aid investment? And what does the future hold for the Afghan economy?
To debate these issues, Madeleine Bunting is joined by: Jon Bennett, director of Oxford development consultants and author of a 2009 review of the programme in Afghanistan for the UK Department for International Development; Eleanor Nichol, senior campaigner for Global Witness, a London-based group that has been campaigning for the potential of Afghanistan’s vast mineral deposits; and, by phone from Edinburgh, Mervyn Lee, executive director for the international NGO Mercy Corps, which has been working in Afghanistan for almost 25 years.”