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Afghanistan: Development Assistance

Volume 696: debated on Thursday 15 November 2007

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Whether there will be an independent audit of official development assistance to Afghanistan; and, if not, what auditing processes are now in place. [HL47]

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) takes lead responsibility for conducting independent assessments of overall official development assistance to various countries. It last conducted an assessment of official development assistance to Afghanistan in the 2006 Survey on Monitoring the Paris Declaration, for which Afghanistan was used within the indicators.

The UK National Audit Office undertook a programme review of DfID’s aid programme to Afghanistan in August 2007. It also conducted a value-for-money assessment in September 2007 as part of its investigation into DfID expenditure in hostile environments.

The International Development Select Committee is currently conducting an investigation into DfID’s programme in Afghanistan. A report with recommendations will be available in early 2008.

DfID’s internal audit department plans to undertake an audit of DfID’s programme in Afghanistan during the first quarter of 2008. DfID’s internal audit department has visited the DfID office to audit DfID’s internal administrative systems in three of the past four years.

UK funds disbursed through multilaterals such as the Asian Development Bank, the UN and the World Bank are subject to the auditing processes of those organisations. Similarly, aid provided to NGOs will be subject to their own independent external audits.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will review the extent of their support for the national Afghan ministries, and reconsider the balance between capacity building at the centre and achieving visible and transparent results through non-governmental organisations. [HL48]

We believe that we have a good balance. DfID’s Afghanistan programme channels more than 80 per cent of its funding through Afghan government systems, as this is the best way of extending the legitimacy and authority of the Government, strengthening government capacity and co-ordinating donor funding. It is also an effective way of spending aid money. A study by the Peace Dividend Trust conducted in 2006-07 estimated the local economic impact of aid spent through government systems to be more than four times greater than aid spent through international contractors or non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

However, DfID works indirectly with NGOs across Afghanistan since NGOs are the major implementing partners for the Afghan government programmes that DfID funds with other donors. For example, the National Solidarity Programme disburses funding through 23 NGOs.

UK funds are also available for NGO work in Afghanistan through the joint DfID, MoD, and FCO Global Conflict Prevention Pool and through various DfID-wide funding pools for civil society and humanitarian work.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What financial or other support they are giving to the Independent Directorate of Local Governance in Afghanistan; and what expectations they have of its influence on the present provincial, district and village administrations. [HL49]

DfID Afghanistan is currently considering how best to support the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG). The IDLG is seeking both political and financial support from donors, and officials have met with the director, Gilani Popal, and other government Ministers on a number of occasions to discuss plans for the IDLG’s activities. President Karzai has mandated the IDLG with securing insecure provinces to the south and south-east of Kabul in the short to medium-term and with improving governance at provincial, district and community level to improve the delivery of basic services. It is too early to judge how successful this will be, as the IDLG was established only eight weeks ago and is still discussing its mandate and work plan.