From the American People
Frequently Asked Questions
On this page: General | Education | Health | Roads
What progress has USAID made in Afghanistan?
Since 2002, the American people have provided the Afghan people with more than $7.9 billion dollars in development assistance. This money has produced real results, which are highlighted in each program section of our website: Agriculture, Democracy & Governance, Economic Growth, Education, Health, Infrastructure, and Stabilization.
Afghanistan has made great strides since 2002 with an elected president and a freely elected and independent minded legislature. Millions of children, including girls, are back in school and the institutions of government have been rebuilt after being completely destroyed by war. There has been a 22% drop in infant mortality, which means that 40,000 fewer infants are dying now than in the Taliban era.
With 7.9 billion dollars obligated on development programs since 2002, USAID provides the largest bilateral civilian assistance program to Afghanistan. Our work continues to be a vital support to Afghanistan in its efforts to ensure economic growth led by the private sector, establish a democratic and capable state governed by the rule of law, and provide basic services for its people.
In the past several years, USAID alone has built more than 680 schools, more than 670 clinics, and reconstructed more than 3,000 km of roads. If you combine these efforts with those of our Coalition partners, the figures jump much higher. But there is a need for thousands of more schools, clinics, and kilometers of road. We are working hard, but it will take time.
There is a huge amount to be done. It will take decades to complete the process, and that international community will continue to work hard in cooperation with the Government of Afghanistan to meet the needs of its people.
This chart shows USAID/Afghanistan's obligations for FY 2002-2007, FY 2008, and FY 2009.
How much funding has Congress allocated to Afghanistan?
The chart on the right shows USAID/Afghanistan obligations from FY2002 - FY2007, FY 2008, and FY 2009 (click to download PDF charts). Subsequent Congressional Budget Justifications can be viewed on the USAID website.
USAID programs have been audited by our Inspector General and the GAO multiple times. While implementation improvements have been recommended, there have been no instances where funds have been misappropriated. USAID supports the “aid effectiveness” principles contained in Annex 2 of the Afghanistan Compact, and is working with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and other donors to put into practice the principles and recommendations of the Paris Declaration on the subject.
Has the increased violence affected USAID projects?
Violence can result in work interruptions and increased costs. The USAID/Afghanistan mission has suffered over 130 casualties since 2003. The U.S. Government, however, remains committed to our support of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s reconstruction efforts. As expected, the Taliban have engaged in scattered attacks against civilian leaders, reconstruction workers, and NGOs in an attempt to show that they are gaining momentum. But NATO/ISAF forces, operating with newly trained and equipped units of the Afghan National Army, have been forcefully countering Taliban efforts.
(read more about our Education programs)
How many schools has USAID built in Afghanistan?
As of October 2008, USAID has built or refurbished 680 schools across Afghanistan in conjunction with the Ministry of Education.
How many children are enrolled in school?
School enrollment is at its highest in Afghanistan’s history. Currently, there are approximately six million students in school, with an estimated 35% being girls. The number of girls currently enrolled in school exceeds the total school enrollment under the Taliban – there were 900,000 students enrolled in school under the Taliban and now there are over two million girls in school. However, according to the Ministry of Education, approximately five million school-aged children remain out of school.
How much has USAID spent on education programs to date?
Between 2002 and 2007, USAID invested $342 million in education projects in Afghanistan, and spent an estimated $66 million in 2008. The U.S. invested this money to expand access to basic education by training teachers, constructing and rehabilitating schools, distributing supplies, and offering accelerated learning programs to out-of-school youth, particularly girls, who were denied an education under the Taliban. USAID is also supporting higher education and non-formal literacy and productive skills education for both youth and adults, as well as supporting capacity development for Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education.
What are the goals of the literacy program announced by former First Lady Laura Bush in Paris?
In June 2008, former First Lady Laura Bush announced a program that combines basic education (literacy and math skills) with business skills and financial assistance to help Afghanistan’s poor to expand their economic opportunities, particularly in rural areas. USAID has promised $40 million to the five-year project, with an additional $22.3 million offered from the Afghan Ministry of Education, UN-HABITAT, and partners. A memorandum of understanding was signed by representatives of the Ministry of Education, USAID, and UN-HABITAT on October 15, 2008.
The program will build the capacity of Afghanistan’s National Literacy Center (formerly the Women’s Teacher Training Institute) to implement new teaching methods and materials designed to assist adult learners nationwide. In addition to teaching basic literacy and math, this project will provide training in business and vocational skills, helping people to find employment and lift themselves out of poverty.
USAID currently projects that over the program’s five-year span, it will reach 312,000 people, 60% of whom will be women. The program will be active in 3,120 communities in 20 provinces.
What is the current status of USAID’s engagement with the American University of Afghanistan (AUAf)?
USAID was a founding donor for AUAf, and continues to work with the university to provide Afghan students with high-quality educational opportunities. By the end of 2008, nearly 350 students had enrolled. USAID has provided support to the university in two ways:
(read more about our Health programs)
How much has USAID spent to date on health care programs?
Between 2002 and 2007, USAID invested $422 million into improving health care services in Afghanistan, and spent an estimated $66 million in 2008.
What is USAID doing to improve health services in Afghanistan?
Afghanistan has one of the highest mortality rates in the world – one in four children dies before the age of five and life expectancy is only 45 years for women and 47 for men. While these statistics are tragic, there has been progress. Through a variety of health programs, more than 8.5 million people annually in 13 provinces served by USAID have better access to quality health care. Additionally, thanks to efforts by USAID, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), and the international community, child mortality has dropped by 26% since 2002. (Reported by the Ministry of Public Health of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan).
USAID has prioritized provision of basic health care for rural communities with a primary focus on women and children. USAID has been working very closely with the MoPH to provide essential services to the Afghan people through programs that:
How does USAID coordinate its health programs with other donors?
The international community has made a commitment to eliminate duplication of efforts and work together for cost-effective aid in Afghanistan. In addition to USAID, there are two major international donors supporting the Ministry of Public Health in Afghanistan – the European Commission (EC) and the World Bank. Both the EC and the World Bank support the Afghan Ministry of Public Health in delivery of the Basic Package of Health Services (BPHS). To ensure efficient aid delivery, USAID coordinates health programs with other major donors through regularly scheduled coordination meetings, including the Consultative Group on Health and Nutrition, the Technical Advisory Group, and Quarterly Donors’ Coordination Meetings.
Does Afghanistan have an HIV/AIDS problem?
USAID recognizes the potential for HIV/AIDS to threaten the prosperity, stability, and development of Afghanistan. At present, there are few signs of a significant HIV/AIDS crisis in Afghanistan, although there is a growing epidemic concentrated among high-risk groups. Those most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS include intravenous drug users, men who engage in risky sexual behavior, commercial sex workers, and truckers. To help at-risk individuals, USAID has initiated a number of social and economic programs to lift these groups out of poverty and provide them with quality health care, education, and job opportunities.
(read more about our Infrastructure programs)
How many roads has USAID built in Afghanistan?
Between 2001 and 2007, USAID completed the construction of 1,700 km of paved roads and 1,100 km of gravel roads.
What types of roads does USAID build in Afghanistan?
USAID builds three kinds of roads in Afghanistan: primary roads, secondary roads and tertiary roads:
How does USAID decide what type of road to build?
When making decisions about roads, USAID follows the guidelines established in the 2006 Road Sector Master Plan. This document, created by the Government of Afghanistan with assistance from the Asian Development Bank, establishes standards and specifications for roads and has been adopted by all major donors in the country.
In addition, USAID’s primary goal in road construction in Afghanistan is to meet the needs of local communities. To achieve this, USAID also consults with representatives from provincial development councils to make joint decisions about the roads, including length and type. Together, they determine the best and most cost-effective strategy for creating roads to increase commerce, security and political stability.
What is the cost of building a road?
USAID-financed road costs vary considerably depending on road type, terrain, security costs and other factors. However, a rough average for USAID asphalt roads is $548,000 per kilometer, while gravel roads cost an average $180,000 per kilometer. USAID’s most expensive road, the 4-lane Kabul Airport road, was $1.6 million per kilometer due to road width, capacity for constant and heavy traffic and thick asphalting. In addition, the urban road required contractors to import materials and provide substantial security to stabilize the construction environment. Conversely, USAID’s least expensive road, the Shega District Road in Nangarhar province, cost USAID only $47,000 per kilometer, due to the simplicity of the terrain, availability of materials, secure environment and minimal asphalting.
As noted above, construction costs can vary significantly. Building in rough terrain and through unstable landforms substantially increases the price of construction, while security costs depend on the volatility of a work area. Additionally, different road types require different levels of resources. Roads designed to facilitate transport of heavy goods and higher traffic volumes receive thicker asphalting and engineering support, while district roads linking local communities need only a stabilized, gravel surface.
Due to the fact that costs can vary greatly depending on terrain, security and road type, any comparison of costs is best done on a unit rate basis, not per kilometer. For instance, how much is being paid for a ton of asphalt, or a cubic meter of embankment, or cubic meter of reinforced concrete. Our unit costs are comparable with those incurred by other donors, including the military.
Why does USAID use foreign contractors when U.S. military project costs appear lower?
Although U.S. military project costs may appear to be lower than USAID’s, our analysis shows that they are, in fact, comparable when built to similar standards and all costs (including security) are considered on a unit rate basis. In a country like Afghanistan, where construction often takes place in rural, unsecured areas, these are significant factors which can increase the cost of a project substantially.
Project size is also a major variable in project costs. For example, smaller projects in support of operational strategies and initiatives designed to produce quick results often focus on provincial/rural roads that are less traveled, or traveled with lighter weight vehicles requiring less structural build-up.
Why does USAID use foreign contractors when they can do the same thing for less with Afghan contractors?
While preoccupied in decades of war, Afghan laborers lost valuable skills in the fighting and were unable to keep up-to-date on advances in construction techniques. USAID seeks to rebuild this capacity by hiring professional contractors who will pass on their modern expertise to the Afghan employees who make up at least 80% of their project staff. This ensures the quality of the roads while simultaneously imparting modern skills to the people of Afghanistan, empowering them to maintain the roads and building their capacity to independently initiate future projects.
Already, the capacity of Afghan contractors has increased rapidly. Today, over half of USAID’s current contracts are being implemented by Afghan contractors, and the percentage is expected to increase.
How long does it take to build a road?
Depending on the road’s type, size and terrain, construction can take between 18 and 24 months. A large portion of this time is invested in laying a solid foundation for construction, including terrain studies, design, procurement and mobilization. In general, large foreign contractors have the capacity to complete between 3 to 5 kms per month, while local contractors average between .05 and 2 kms per month.
What is the typical lifespan of a road?
The life cycle of a road depends on a number of factors, including traffic volumes, climate and maintenance. If a USAID road is properly maintained, the asphalt roads will last 10 years before requiring an overlay, while gravel roads need to be re-graveled every 5 years.
Who maintains the roads built by USAID?
The government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is striving to establish a road maintenance system and sustainable financing. In the interim, it requested all donors to maintain the roads they have rehabilitated for a three year period. USAID agreed to maintain 1600kms of Regional and National Highways it has constructed/rehabilitated. USAID has committed $33 million to maintain the roads (including emergency repairs) for a period of three years, beginning January 08.
How does USAID measure the social and economic impact of a road?
USAID tries to measure the social and economic impact of a road in terms of reduced vehicle costs, including lower transport costs (e.g. for agricultural production to/from markets), travel times and passenger fares. For example, a new connector road constructed in the northern city of Faizabad resulted in a 67% decrease in travel times and a 40% reduction in travel costs. Other considerations are an increase in the number of businesses, increased volume of traffic and additional freight moving along the road.
Successful roads will also result in a stronger society, giving communities increased access to health, education, markets and government services.
19 Jun 2013
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