NATO pullout could hit Afghan development, says World Bank
Afghanistan might have trouble keeping hard-earned development gains due to looming security challenges when NATO military forces withdraw in 2014, according to a World Bank audit.
The review said the Bank's programs in the war-torn country had achieved "impressive results" in areas like public health, telecommunications and community development, reports The Dawn.
However, it warned that "with the expected reduction of the international presence in 2014, sustainability of development gains remains a major risk because of capacity constraints and inadequate human resources planning on the civilian side".
The document pointed to the lack of government structure at the regional and local levels, calling it "a risk to the sustainability of national programs".
The Bank said that over the past decade, Afghanistan has achieved strong gains in health care, extending basic services to all provinces and cutting the infant mortality rate.
Education has also expanded significantly- primary school enrollment rose to 7.2 million students in 2011 from one million in 2001.
But development activities have been hampered by "contradictory advice and competing donor programs," and the inability given the security problems to run a full development program on the ground, it added.
"The Afghanistan country program operates under extraordinarily difficult circumstances, wherein security conditions pose a continuing challenge to Afghanistan's development and external-partner support," it said.
It cited the unavailability of staff to be deployed inside the country, and frequent turnover of those who are.
But the review praised the Afghan government as a "committed partner with the vision to rebuild the Afghan state and modernize Afghan society".
"The government has shown its determination to build a modern state out of the ruins and ravages of more than two decades of war," it added.