Friday, June 22, 2018

The Bottom Line in Afghanistan: From Bad to Worse

May 1, 2018 Press Release from the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction

Today, SIGAR released its thirty-ninth Quarterly Report to Congress.

Key points:

-- USFOR-A reported that the actual assigned strength of the ANDSF as of January 2018 was 296,409, which includes 165,622 ANA and 130,787 ANP personnel. These figures represent a sharp decline in strength from the same period last year: the ANA saw a 4,818-person decrease, and the ANP a 23,210-per¬son decrease, for a total of 35,999 fewer personnel in January 2018 compared to January 2017.

-- As of January 31, 2018, 14.5% of the country’s total districts were under insurgent control or influence—the highest level recorded since SIGAR began receiving district control data—and 56.3% of districts were under Afghan government control or influence.

-- Since SIGAR began receiving population-control data in August 2016, Afghan government control has decreased by roughly four percentage points, and the overall trend for the insurgency is rising control over the population (from 9% in August 2016 to 12% in January 2018).

-- Despite a 63% increase in Afghan land under opium-poppy cultivation and an 88% increase in raw opium production in 2017, USAID informed SIGAR this quarter that it will not plan, design, or implement any new programs to address opium-poppy cultivation.

-- From December 15, 2017, to February 15, 2018, the UN recorded an average of 55.9 security incidents per day—nearly four incidents per day higher than the same period two years ago.

-- The total of 1,186 munitions dropped in the first quarter of 2018 is the highest number recorded for this period since reporting began in 2013, and is over two and a half times the amount dropped in the first quarter of 2017.

-- UNAMA’s records indicate that air operations in 2017 caused 631 civilian casualties including 295 deaths—the highest number of civilian casualties from air strikes recorded in a single year. In contrast, RS provided a much lower figure for civilian casualties caused by Coalition air strikes, only 51 such casualties in 2017 and 11 between January 1 and March 2, 2018.

-- The UN stated that up to 90% of drug production currently falls within Taliban-controlled areas, however, SIGAR analysis found that strictly in terms of poppy cultivation, there are districts under Afghan government control or influence with significant levels of cultivation. In certain provinces, the districts with the largest area of opium-poppy cultivation for 2017 are under government influence or control.

-- With one of the highest population growth rates in the world and nearly half of its people under 15 years old, Afghanistan will need to add 400,000 jobs annually just to keep pace with new entrants to its labor market—a situation described by an International Labor Office consultant report as a “socio-economic time bomb.”

-- USFOR-A provided only cursory ANDSF performance assessments in an unclassified format this quarter. SIGAR is unable to determine the basis for these unclassified assessments with the data provided.

-- In its most recent Corruption Perceptions Index, Transparency International gave Afghanistan a score of 15 on a 0-100 scale (0 being “highly corrupt” and 100 being “very clean”).

-- From 2008 through March 20, 2018, over 3,520 interdiction operations resulted in the seizure of 463,342 kg of opium. But the sum of these seizures over nearly a decade would account for less than 0.05% of the opium produced in Afghanistan in 2017 alone.

-- USAID’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) reported Afghanistan was experiencing substantial rainfall deficits likely to have adverse effects on crops, particularly wheat. USAID added that “dire consequences” were likely for other crops.

-- DOJ reported a “growing risk that the debts (from Kabul Bank theft) will not be repaid.” DOJ added that the Afghan Attorney General told US Embassy officials he did not intend to pursue further charges – a direct contradiction of Kabul Compact Benchmarks.

-- As of March 31, seven new polio cases were reported in Afghanistan in 2018; half as many as reported in Afghanistan in all of 2017 (14), according to UNAMA.

-- Progress toward increasing equitable access to education, particularly for girls, only “moderately satisfactory,” according to the World Bank-administered EQUIP II.

Full Quarterly Report:

Quarterly Report by Section:

Report Photos:

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