Afghanistan

More aid share going through Afghan government

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KABUL, May 1 (Reuters) - International donors are increasingly routing Afghan aid through the government, but requiring too much to be spent that way may drive some donors away, the U.N.'s Special Representative to Kabul said on Tuesday.

Under pressure over the mounting insurgency and what many Afghans see as a failure to rebuild the country, President Hamid Karzai has urged donors to give his government more control over the billions of dollars pledged for reconstruction after decades of war.

About 30 percent of aid currently goes through the government, and U.N. Special Representative Tom Koenigs said the increasing ability of Afghan institutions to handle rebuilding work meant more could be given that way.

"It has been increased in the past year and it will increase," Koenigs told reporters after an annual aid coordination meeting between government and donors.

But he added: "To say nothing except through the budget, then you might lose some money."

Issues for donors included constitutional bans in some countries on giving aid directly to other governments and a need to continue efforts that were particularly effective, he said.

A foreign military reconstruction team had built 50 schools around the eastern city of Gardez for $1.2 million using local materials and labour, while some other schools had cost $1.2 million each, Koenigs said.

The varying priorities of the more than 60 Afghan and foreign agencies helping rebuild Afghanistan are apparent in the capital, Kabul.

While aid money is funding the replanting of Kabul's highest hill, the road up to the project, used by hundreds of people every day to access their homes, is a heavily potholed dirt track wide enough in parts for only one car.

At the meeting of the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board, aid donors agreed to fund an increase in police numbers by about a third -- taking the maximum number of officers to 82,000.

But Koenigs was unclear how many extra police would be employed, saying there were varying estimates about official police numbers and the reality of boots on the ground.

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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