Afghanistan: Back to the Future

Non-governmental organisations, by definition and inclination, strive to be apolitical. For them, day-to-day life with the Taliban has been replaced by the realities of the Afghan Interim Administration, which is running the country until an alternative is found acceptable to Afghans and their benefactors - the donor nations providing the billions of dollars for reconstruction aid to put the country back on its feet. Except that they aren’t. Running the country, that is, and this presents huge and eerily familiar problems for aid and development teams.

The World Today Updated 23 October 2020 Published 1 April 2002 4 minute READ

Chris Cork

has worked with a number of non-governmental organisations

The Afghan Interim Administration (AIA) writ does not extend far beyond Kabul, and the country has settled back into the ethnic, political and sectarian divisions that immediately preceded the Taliban. The map looks uncomfortably like that before the Taliban consolidated their rule in 1996.

A national army and police force are years from being achieved; the judiciary and civil courts – never mind a universal code of law – are likewise distant; and armed factions rather than civil government predominate. Into this heady and volatile brew comes that most combustible of ingredients: money.


Money does not spend itself – an individual or organisation has to do the spending. Much of that about to be spent in Afghanistan will be on major infrastructure projects such as road and bridge construction, hospitals and schools, water and sanitation programmes – vast schemes that will go to international tender as commercial activities.

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