World Bank Welcomes Recommendations in latest SIGAR Report
by Wadsam | April 26, 2018 12:53 am
The World Bank welcomes recommendations in the latest report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) on the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF). It presents the Afghan Government, ARTF donors and the World Bank with useful insights and an opportunity to strengthen the focus on the fund’s results and accountability.
Most of the findings, however, are somewhat anecdotal, and do not fully take into account measures taken to improve the reporting on how funds are used. The World Bank takes the quality of project results framework seriously, while also approaching them with pragmatism based on professional judgment, and several other tools relevant to the circumstances of each projects throughout their implementation life cycle.
Independent assessments conclude that in Afghanistan’s volatile context, the ARTF is a vehicle of choice for pooled on-budget funding given its low transaction and management costs, transparency and accountability. It provides a well-functioning arena for policy debate and consensus creation between the international community and government of Afghanistan while delivering important results to millions of Afghans across the country.
“We are proud of the tangible results Afghanistan has achieved with the support of ARTF for Afghans in the past 15 years and continues to deliver, which include improving and expanding access to healthcare and education, developing rural infrastructure, and improving farmers’ crops and incomes.”
About the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF)
- The ARTF was established in 2002 to provide a coordinated financing mechanism for the Government of Afghanistan’s budget and priority national investment projects. The World Bank is the administrator of the ARTF.
- Since its inception, 34 donors have contributed more than $10.3 billion to the ARTF, making it the largest single source of financing for Afghanistan’s development. This means the ARTF is providing about $900 million a year for the non-security needs of Afghanistan, helping reduce poverty and deliver services, such as education and health, to its citizens.
- The ARTF is the donors’ vehicle of choice for pooled funding given its low transaction and management costs, transparency and accountability.
Results supported by ARTF
- ARTF’s grant financing is supporting important results within key sectors including education, health, agriculture, rural development, infrastructure, and governance. Below are examples from several areas.
- Education is now one of Afghanistan’s success stories. In 2001, no girls attended schools and boys’ enrollment was just about 1 million. School enrollment has increased to 8.7 million for general education in 2016, with girls accounting for 39 percent of school students.
- Since 2003, the health of Afghans has steadily improved, with health services delivered even in highly insecure provinces. The number of children dying before their 5th birthday dropped by more than a third between 2003-2015, from 137 to 91 deaths per 1,000 live births. Rates of childhood stunting have declined by 2 percent a year, faster than a global median of 1.3 percent a year in comparable countries.
- More than 28 million Afghans benefitted from the National Solidarity Program. More than 13 million rural poor have gained access to drinking water and sanitation; 53,000 km of rural roads were built and rehabilitated; over 6,400 classrooms, 89 health clinics, 9 hospitals and 5,800 community centers were constructed or rehabilitated, and over 54.6 million labor days were generated.
External Review and Validation of the ARTF
- External review and validation is an important part of the accountability framework of the ARTF. The ARTF has controls in place to: 1) monitor the entire civilian operating budget to ensure funds are used in accordance with government rules and the legal agreement between the World Bank and the government, and 2) carry out asset verification, quality assurance, and data mapping of national infrastructure projects (by using smart phones, citizen monitoring, satellite imagery and innovative technology).
- In addition to these controls, four independent evaluations of the ARTF have been carried out since the establishment of the fund in 2002 with the latest evaluation conducted in 2017. The review concluded that in a challenging and rapidly changing context, ARTF remains a critical arena for joint analysis, discussion and decision; a mechanism for directive, prioritized collective action; a cost-efficient tool for channeling financial and technical support to the Government’s priorities; and an enduring commitment and partnership with Afghanistan’s future that allows and invites critical assessments of choices ahead.
ARTF and the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR)
- The U.S. Congress created the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) to provide independent and objective oversight of Afghanistan reconstruction projects and activities. SIGAR conducts audits and investigations to: 1) promote efficiency and effectiveness of reconstruction programs and 2) detect and prevent waste, fraud, and abuse.
- SIGAR’s first audit report on ARTF was published in 2011. The follow on second report was released on April 25, 2018.
- The recommendations offered by SIGAR lay out an opportunity for the Government of Afghanistan, ARTF donors, and the World Bank to strengthen the focus on results and accountability. The World Bank agrees with much of the SIGAR report and is actively working with the Afghan government and stakeholders to continually strengthen the program.
- ARTF: http://www.artf.af/
- four independent evaluations of the ARTF: http://www.artf.af/external-reviews/artf-independent-evaluations
- Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR): https://www.sigar.mil/
- SIGAR’s first audit report: https://www.sigar.mil/pdf/audits/2011-07-22audit-11-14.pdf
- follow on second report: https://www.sigar.mil/pdf/audits/SIGAR-18-42-AR.pdf
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