Learning Curves: Assessing ADB's Support to Afghanistan
When Afghanistan emerged from conflict in 2002, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and a broad consortium of development partners stepped in quickly to deal with pressing needs to try to avert a slide back into civil strife. ADB helped the country restore economic stability, rebuild institutions, and provide basic services.
Progress with ADB support has included a 750-kilometer network of improved roads, cutting travel times on important routes. Four functioning airports connect remote parts of the country. New power lines helped provide electricity around the clock in Kabul in 2012, as compared with about 4 hours a day in 2002. And a viable private sector has gained traction through projects supporting the Afghanistan International Bank and Roshan Telecom.
Despite these and other development gains, Afghanistan's 34 million people remain among the world's poorest: four-fifths live in rural, often remote areas, and more than one-third live on less than $1 per day. The challenges remain daunting.
This country assistance program evaluation, the first in the country, assesses ADB's program since reengagement in 2002. ADB provided assistance of $2.7 billion during 2002-2011. This comprised 32 sovereign, 7 nonsovereign, and 49 technical assistance projects. ADB is the fourth largest of Afghanistan's development partners, after the United States, Japan, and the European Union.
The overall evaluation rated the sovereign program less than successful. The transport and energy sectors were rated borderline successful and finance, public sector management, agriculture and natural resources less than successful. By contrast, it rated the nonsovereign program successful.
The evaluation recommended that the international development community maintain support. This must include far stronger action on capacity development and reforms to improve development effectiveness. The evaluation also recommended that ADB acknowledge the conflict more clearly and set the next country partnership strategy period for 3 years or less.