A Third of Afghans at Risk of Hunger Shows Need for Urgent Aid Reforms

For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

Ashley Jackson: +93 (0)700 278 657,  AJackson@oxfam.org.uk, or
Sean Kenny:  +44 7766 443 506, skenny@oxfam.org.uk

A Third of Afghans at Risk of Hunger Shows Need for Urgent Aid Reforms

WASHINGTON - Too few ordinary Afghans are benefiting from
international aid efforts in their country, with a third of the
population at risk of hunger, international aid agency Oxfam warned
today.

The agency said although billions of pounds have been given to
Afghanistan as aid, it has been woefully insufficient to deal with
legacy of three decades of conflict and chaos.

The US spends $100m a day on security but the overall aid budget for all donors combined is less than $7m a day.

Aid can make a huge difference in Afghanistan but it has to be
well-spent. The election of a new government in Kabul must be
accompanied by major reforms in governance and aid effectiveness, Oxfam
said today. So far much of the money given by foreign governments is
ineffective, uncoordinated or wasteful, and doesn’t reach ordinary
Afghans.

Grace Ommer, Oxfam GB’s country director for Afghanistan, said: “The
problems in Afghanistan are huge but they aren’t intractable. Much has
improved since 2001. More children are in school, health facilities are
better and the infrastructure is slowly improving. But Afghanistan
should and could be doing much better than it is.”

Poverty levels remain some of the worst in the world, with 40% of
Afghans living below the poverty line. One woman dies every 30 minutes
due to pregnancy or childbirth.

After nearly eight years of Western presence in Afghanistan, Oxfam
said many areas are facing severe food shortages with nearly 7.3m
people at risk of hunger. The situation is made worse by the conflict
which places many areas off limits to aid workers.

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy

Ommer said: “The international community has promised a lot to the
Afghan people but much aid and reconstruction have failed to live up to
those promises. Donors have double pledged funds and have been slow to
disburse aid money, a situation compounded by inefficiency, lack of
accountability and corruption. Aid that does reach Afghanistan often
doesn’t reach the people it’s meant to help, or it is spent on projects
which fulfil donor’s priorities, rather than Afghan needs.”

Despite all these problems the people of Afghanistan still need our help.

Ommer added:  “Vast amounts of aid money are funnelled through
Provincial Reconstruction Teams – military-dominated institutions that
are ill-equipped do aid work. In many parts of Afghanistan this
militarization of aid work is not promoting development or stability
and is drawing civilians further into the conflict. More of the money
should go through local institutions and communities, or to aid
agencies, who often have greater impact and efficiency.”

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Oxfam International is a confederation of 13 like-minded organizations working together and with partners and allies around the world to bring about lasting change. Oxfam works directly with communities and that seeks to influence the powerful to ensure that poor people can improve their lives and livelihoods and have a say in decisions that affect them.

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