Washington, D.C. (December 17, 2010)-On the heels of the Obama administration's annual review of its security, governance and development strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, InterAction is heartened by the administration's clear commitment to the long-term development of Afghanistan and its explicit acknowledgement of the need to respond to the development needs of the Pakistani people. InterAction calls upon the Administration to emphasize effective, long-term, community-based development throughout the countries in order to achieve sustainable development for the Afghan and Pakistani people.
On Afghanistan specifically, the overview statement released by the administration yesterday correctly focuses on addressing corruption, improving governance, and promoting transparency and accountability - issues central to ensuring development efforts take root.
InterAction President and CEO Sam Worthington notes, "InterAction's members on the ground are working at the community level to advance the needs of the Afghan people. By working from the bottom-up with almost exclusively Afghan staff, members of our community are partnering with the Afghan people to improve local capacity and institutions, expand the sustainable delivery of basic services, and promote long-term development."
As the statement rightly points out, recent gains in key areas remain fragile and reversible. In order to fully cement any development progress seen over the last year, long-term durable and sustainable change will need to be seen in country-wide efforts to build governance, economic, political and social development.
Unfortunately, the review reinforces a continuation of the current strategy of channeling a disproportionate share of U.S. assistance to areas that are the focus of military operations. InterAction recommends a country-wide strategy that prioritizes geographically-balanced development efforts. Only with a sustained commitment to long-term development across Afghanistan will investments result in real improvements for the Afghan people. Furthermore, to truly advance transparent and accountable assistance efforts, U.S. development policy and strategy should ensure that spending does not exceed the capacity of local actors to absorb funding in an accountable and effective manner.
On Pakistan, the review rightly notes that the U.S. responded rapidly and robustly to the gamechanging floods. InterAction emphasizes that flood recovery is still ongoing.
The current Pakistan assistance strategy was written prior to this significant "game-changer" and therefore must be adapted to reflect significant new needs faced by some of the poorest and most vulnerable Pakistanis-ones that will affect development outcomes in Pakistan for years to come. InterAction strongly urges the administration to develop a plan on how it and other donor countries can assist the Government of Pakistan and the Pakistani people to support flood recovery and promote human, social and economic recovery as well as political stability in the wake of the devastation. And, given Pakistan's risk of natural disasters, InterAction emphasizes the importance of developing the capacity of Pakistan's government and civil society to respondto and reduce the impact of future disasters.
InterAction and its members look forward to working closely with the U.S. government and Congress to ensure that U.S. foreign assistance is generous, well-managed, effective, and ultimately serves the needs and best interests of the Afghan, Pakistani and American peoples.