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CBS News, September 18, 2007

Billions In Aid Wasted In Afghanistan?

Public Health Expert Documents U.S. Failures In Reconstruction

JALALABAD, Afghanistan (CBS): American doctor Dave Warner is on a mission in eastern Afghanistan to show people back home how billions of taxpayer dollars sent here are being wasted.

"When I was here in December, this was full so you can see they've dug another pit over here," Warner says, pointing to a pit.

Afghans say corruption is worse now than at any time in the past nearly 30 years, including under Taliban and Soviet rule. About 60 per cent of 1,250 Afghans questioned for the survey by Integrity Watch Afghanistan thought his administration was more corrupt than any since 1970s. Around 93 per cent believed more than half the public services required a bribe.
Zee News, Mar.19, 2007

Rotting bio-waste is dumped in the hospital's backyard because as Warner and the hospital director showed CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan - the new waste incinerator donated by the U.S. government is completely useless. Even if the hospital had been trained how to run it, they can't afford the fuel.

"It's not used very often … at all," he said.

It was a gift from the American people.

"Isn't that nice?" Warner said.

Warner is a public health expert from San Diego who's taken it upon himself to do what no one else in Afghanistan seems to be doing - documenting the failures in reconstruction. He says the system can't be fixed unless those responsible first admit that it's broken.

But it's a hard sell, as Warner discovered when he tried to report his findings to officials at the Pentagon.

"I was brought aside and they told me, 'Don't tell that story.' I said 'Why not?' And they said 'Well, this is one of our success stories,'" he said.

A success story that quickly turned to disappointment for the hospital when they discovered that a septic truck donated by the U.S. with brand new tires and a new coat of paint wasn't new at all. In fact, it's at least 60 years old and starts up with a crank.

Defence officials in the US and Britain estimate that up to half of all aid in Afghanistan is failing to reach the right people. A Pentagon official said thousands of cars and trucks intended for use by the Afghan police had been sold instead.
Sunday Telegraph, January 29, 2007

The hospital's plumbing system is new, and certified as complete by the U.S. agency which funded it. But it's a disaster. Blood poured out of an open drain when Logan was there.

The open drains should have been covered - a fact Warner pointed out more than a year ago to those in charge of the project, but no one would take responsibility and finish the job. Warner says leaving it to the Afghans is unrealistic.

"They have no resources, and so every time we leave something 80 percent of the way, that more than overwhelms their capacity," he said.

It's inside the hospital that you really see how overwhelmed the hospital is. Surgical instruments are sterilized in a pressure cooker.

Babies are kept two or three to one bed. In the newborn intensive care unit, critically ill babies have to share oxygen - there's barely enough power to run two machines.

Newborns with jaundice also have to share fluorescent lights because of the limited power.

"This is what the people have," Warner said, referencing average Afghanis. "Yes, when you are talking about hearts and minds, these are the hearts."

Hearts that the United States is failing to win, Warner says, because the system is failing them.

Category: US-NATO, Corruption - Views: 7251


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