Measuring and Accelerating Results in Afghanistan
reconstruction plans for Afghanistan began internally in the Bush Administration
in October 2001. A preliminary “needs assessment”
was completed at that time by the Treasury International Affairs staff. This prepared the way for our first
international donors conference held in November 2002
in Washington just after the Taliban fell from power in Kabul. This was followed by the highly successful
fundraising event in Tokyo
in January 2003 at which $4.5 billion was raised for reconstruction.
The speeches in this
section address several important operational issues related to using these
funds effectively and expeditiously over the next few years.
The first two items
were short statements that I gave to the press during a visit to Afghanistan in September 2003. The purpose of this visit was to evaluate—by
seeing and talking to people on the ground—how donors funds were being used, to
monitor final preparations for the new currency exchange (which was just about
to begin), and to assess revenue problems that arose because certain regional
governments (for example, Herat) had not been sending customs receipts to the
national government in Kabul. On my way
to Afghanistan I stopped at the Asian Development Bank
headquarters in Manila to stress the urgency of their assistance
to Afghanistan reconstruction and to urge the leadership
to give it a very high priority.
The first statement
simply expresses my confidence that the upcoming currency exchange was on track
and had every expectation of working successfully; the statement’s purpose was
to give a needed confidence boost as apprehensions were growing among traders
that glitches in the exchange were likely.
(The exchange turned out to be highly successful). The second statement
brought public attention to my assessment that we had to make greater efforts
to set timelines for measuring results and aim for better coordination of donor
efforts on the ground in Afghanistan.
Upon returning to Washington I reported my concerns about the pace of
reconstruction and gave a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations which
outlined how we thought the donor community, including the international
financial institutions, should address the timing problem. Using the example of road-building, I put
forth a notional set of timelines, including an example map, which was fleshed
out in more detail by the United States and other donors over time.
The final item in this
section is a speech delivered one year later in November 2003. It called for yet additional acceleration in
the reconstruction, in this case stressing the importance of the upcoming
Afghan presidential elections and the need to show very visible progress in
constructing schools, hospitals, and roads. This was part of a concerted effort
in the Administration to speed up disbursements. The effort also included
financial diplomatic work in the G7. In the end the election (held in October
2004) was very successful—the first democratic election in the history of Afghanistan.
New Currency, Kabul, Afghanistan,
September 22, 2002
on Reconstruction in Afghanistan, Kabul,
Afghanistan, September 24, 2002
Reconstruction Work in Afghanistan, Remarks at the Council on
Foreign Relations, Washington, D.C.,
October 9, 2002
Time to Accelerate Reconstruction in Afghanistan, America
November 10, 2003