|Kabul: 9:33 AM      |
Welcome to Kabul:Reconstructions. You can follow the information below, which has been gathered from a
number of sources by a number of participants (click on the names at left for bios), to reconstruct your
own picture of events in Kabul since this site was launched on March 8th, 2003 and, in a sense, since the
reconstruction of Afghanistan began somewhere in the winter of 2001-02.
Some of this information has been provided in response to specific questions submitted by visitors like you. Please note that this section of the project is now maintained as an archive and has not been updated since 2005. Click here to ASK A QUESTION.
Arian Mouj Sharifi
"melancholy" Afghan donor conference in Dubai during IMF/World Bank summit (Economist)
The Economist September 27, 2003 Where opium is half of GDP THE gathering of donors to Afghanistan in Dubai last week was a melancholy affair. A few successes were tentatively noted. The Afghan government is extending its reach, said the American delegation--yet gory evidence in the south of the country points to the contrary. Afghan officials said invisible mechanisms had been set up, particularly for the disbursement of money to ministries, which would yield tangible results in the near future. That was about it. The IMF tempered good news of economic growth--a whopping 30% last year, and maybe 20% this year--with a warning on drugs. Its bean-counters believe that the export of opium and its derivatives, which yielded about $2.5 billion last year, now accounts for half of Afghanistan's GDP. Production is fast recovering to its 1999 record level. Without a major intervention, it said, the country will slide into being a "narco-state where all legitimate institutions become penetrated by the power and wealth of drug traffickers." Just so, agreed the Afghan finance minister, Ashraf Ghani. Several ministries are already approaching "narco-mafia" status, he volunteered. The World Bank was scarcely more upbeat. Life expectancy in Afghanistan still hovers around 40, it noted. There was at least determined talk, and money to back it up. The head of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, gave a pep talk. His organisation will spend $300m in Afghanistan next year on reconstruction and micro-financing. The bulk of the money will come from America, European Union members, Japan and Canada. The American contingent left in good spirits. By their own account, they managed to get other donors to match Washington's boosted funding for Afghanistan next year. Half of the $1.2 billion America plans to dole out will go on building up the national police and army. The rest will be spent on reconstruction and improving ministries. Americans and others may also make use of an existing scheme which funnels money in the form of block grants to villages where, at least, funds get stolen at the micro level. Mr Ghani sang a depressingly familiar tune: spend now or pay later. All donations have been gratefully received, went his chorus, but how about some more. He reckons his country needs $30 billion over the next five years to make a go of it. He will be lucky to get half that. A good chunk of the money promised over 15 months--$1.8 billion out of $2.1 billion--actually materialised. Yet, that amounts to an annual $67 per Afghan, which pales in comparison with what was spent on each Timorese and Bosnian following their civil wars. Afghans wonder why they get so much less. Hovering on the fringe was Russia, which claims to be owed money by Afghanistan. Russian diplomats say Kabul is in hock to them for close to $10 billion--by what calculation is unclear. They say Russia would be ready to settle, in deference to hard times, for 20 cents on the dollar. No chance, splutter other diplomats. But Russia does not really expect to be paid. The issue is one of leverage. By forgiving Soviet-era debt, it hopes to win favourable agreements on mining, oil exploration and the import of machinery.
Posted By: mariam   September 30th 2003, 2003 12:00 AM
Kabul: Partial Reconstructions is an installation
and public dialogue project that explores the multiple meanings and resonances of
the idea of reconstruction -- as both process and metaphor -- in the context of present-day Kabul.
www.kabul-reconstructions.net is an online discussion forum, information resource, and medium for the communication of questions and answers about the reconstruction between people inside and outside the city of Kabul itself.