tv C-SPAN2 Weekend CSPAN December 10, 2011 7:00am-8:00am EST
inadequate. and we ended up putting resources on the non civilian side. on the security side that match the challenge. the question now is how do you then scaled back down while maintaining what to do with that funding. >> another intriguing slide you pointed out striking this one which is the slope of revenue. so what are the elements of the increase is that -- is afghanistan collecting taxes or experiencing greater transit trend and attacking at the same rate it was before or collecting the same rate? >> there were a couple factors. a big one here at the first deflections point is afghanistan, as part of this, gets considerable coverage. the revenue points in the west, iraq, in the east, outside
kandahar and july bad --jalal a --jalalabad from people not -- taking an undue share for themselves and that changed around a deflection that and most of the money went into afghanistan coffers. the other phenomenal story in afghanistan is the rise in, the mobile phone. the afghan government had a very fair and open process for its mobile phone licences and now 85% of the afghan is covered by mobile phones and 60% have a mobile phone which is the communications revolution. all that mobile phone use is taxed and the afghan government considered revenue from it. >> there is $2 billion a year in revenue and our previous slide we were at 15 and you mentioned
the afghan camp. sustainable afghan state is to find equilibrium some place the twin two billion and ten billion people and maybe between 3 and ten billion. how much external laid on top of 2.5 that they collect themselves with bailout by 2014? we have surrounded the question of sustainability. and to digging to the qualitative aspects the actual lives at issue and the view of started out with -- your survey of education and health, i wondered considering that we don't have access to the maps united states intelligence agencies created here showing which areas of the country under taliban influence and which are not but we know a substantial part of the map you put up reflects taliban control in
rural areas and humanitarian organizations providing inoculations and other health services, you have to negotiate with the taliban shadow state's movement. my question is if i were an afghan i would anticipate there would be some substantial areas of rural afghanistan at a minimum that will remain under taliban influence as opposed to 2014. it is not really nato policy to eradicate all vestiges of taliban influence and control. in the 1990s, what is the shadow taliban's attitude toward delivery of improvement in education and health services to afghans that you document on a national basis? what is actually going on in these critical areas? >> it is a somewhat mixed picture. one of the things that i have
found most interesting over the last couple years is where services -- let's take schools for example. the taliban started burning a lot of schools in 2007-2009 period. we learned two things. one is there is a great program called the national solidarity program which is one of the most successful programs that has been undertaken in afghanistan. and basically what it does is to give a grant to communities that are forced to create these community development cal's tools with representation on them and the community is the one that decides which project it wants and which funding and have to contribute from their own resources. it turns out the schools that were built through those processes don't get burned. not because the taliban likes
those villages better or like the education in those villages better but because people feel ownership over the things that happened in their community and they are actually the ones that tend to negotiate with the taliban. less than the implement partners are doing it than the communities are doing it and the communities who feel ownership foresee gains tend to tell the taliban you have got to leave this stuff alert and we have seen the taliban have been responsive to those community demands so it is not some a organization negotiating with the taliban it is the community people and those communities that are most vulnerable on more overwhelmed, have been less well able to do it so at the end of the date it really -- to answer your question is most about how those communities feel in the progress they have seen or failure to see progress.
certainly the most far-flung communities in afghanistan that have seen the same type of gains and therefore are less invested in that path. >> on health issues, the dramatic gains in child mortality you talk about. those are connected to women's health substantially and the taliban's attitude toward delivery of health services to women changed since the 1990s under community pressure in a similar way or have they not? >> the only evidence i have is the reality of what is reflected in the statistics. there are not an enormous amount of a tax on health care facilities even in problemss where insurgency is very active and these statistics are national statistics. a very by province but doesn't reflect only gains in safe areas. >> just to talk about the
corruption that you raised, let's see where that slide is. put us back with the sheer size of the resource flows that are coming into these highly insecure states that have known nothing but uncertainty for 40 years. of course it is not at a baseline surprising that these would skim off these temporary surges in external flows to provide security for themselves and their patrons but when you talk about improvements that the government is committed to in terms of transparency and other kinds of external measures of corruption, what is it about the structure of corruption that you think it is realistic to change in afghanistan given the huge leap distorting effect of the external resources flows that are 100% of nominal gdp.
what can actually change that the government will attack? >> there are fundamentally two drivers that work to bring down corruption. one is the threat of punishment. other institutions -- i am from pennsylvania. there was recently a major corruption case in pennsylvania with judges selling kids into a juvenile detention centers. really bad corruption exists everywhere. the question is whether you punish it or not. the second thing is about leadership. let me give you a good example. we do a lot of work with the ministry, everyone talks about you go to the revenue slide and what you don't see on here are the promised gains from afghanistan. there's enormous potential for toxic revenue over time.
not in the near term to be generated to afghanistan. afghanistan is a classic country for resources because of the governance and corruption issue. we don't work on mining per se but we are focused on working with the ministry of mines to get the undecided puffy transparency and a share and other things that will build a web essentially around the extractive industry so it doesn't become a source of corruption. and the good news is the current minister of mines in afghanistan i believe and evidence has shown from the tenders that have happened under his watch really believes in this and put his leadership on the line and made it clear to those in the ministry that corruption would not be tolerated and the bids so far like -- more minor ones have
been far more transparent than the ones that came before him. no he is threatening to reopen relatively small stuff that happened under previous minister. there is no substitute for leadership if you are going to combat corruption. the combination of those two things even as corruption continues you have seen glimmers of institutions in afghanistan that take their role seriously. a fantastic example is what happens with the independent election commission in the last election. they stood up under unbelievable pressure to air the problems in that election and when you start to have individuals in positions is a this is my job and i will stand up for even against the risk, that has the potential to create a more positive cycle
dealing with corruption. >> i meant to ask about the subject and you said going forward agriculture is going to remain the heart of the afghan economy and when you were just talking about mining sector you said it is not a near-term prospect. what is your analysis of the realistic potential taking note of your concerns about resources but the realistic potential for afghanistan to join mongolia as a twenty-first century resource based economy for industrializing neighbors like china? >> that is certainly a viable path, i am not sure they will achieve it. people talk about the enormous mineral wealth in afghanistan and i remind them there is a reason is all still in the ground. there are significant
challenges. there are infrastructure challenges which is why the process of getting the major things that are already up there, copper and iron and getting those going is capital intensive infrastructure intensive and so it is going to take a decade before those revenues are felt within the afghan economy. the good news about that is there's time to improve government. more important than the direct revenues in the afghan budget, be industries springing up around the creation of extracted themselves will be major generators of economic activity. employment. mining itself is not always the most intensive activity but building roads, railroads and businesses to support the mines and security and all those
things. that will create a lot of economic activity in afghanistan, the next decade even before those rescues reach the budget. >> one more question on the corruption subject. on this last trip i went to canada are -- kandahar and went to a massive housing complex in kandahar and there was a gated community and it stretched to the horizon. tens of millions of dollars in mansions and so forth. it had a slightly out side feel. what it signaled was in afghan perception, i think, be corruption that bothers them most, that seems the most cancer as is this kind of grand
patronage network in which ministers or important national personalities have through their families and clans and other identity networks just pushed enormous sums into favored pockets and manifested themselves in these gargantuan building projects and other examples like the kabul bank and so forth. if you approach the 2014 elections and think about the candidates that are going to emerge an enormous turning point that election will represent for the stability of afghanistan, where will technocratic candidates or other coalitions come from that are not already
located in these patronage networks, that have been grabbing on to large external flows and pocketing them for themselves? how can we imagine leadership in the next phase of the afghanistan capital that is starting to rise above this rent seeking pattern that concerns mostly afghans that i talked to whether they're from the north or the south? really crosses all the other lines that afghanistan presents. >> i think one of the most important things that needs to happen in the next stage of afghanistan's development is a much more inclusive politics. afghanistan, because of its diversity geographically, socially, ethnically is one of the worst candidates for a
winner-take-all system. there needs to be a perception among different groups that they have a future in afghanistan. i am not just talking about that they get so many seats in parliament. going back again, in afghanistan 15 years ago it was somalia. into fractional armies that were fighting. many of them see the risks of going back to that sort of thing. and the people in those regions see the risk of going back to that sort of state. the way around that is those groups need to see a way in which they are going to be part of the firmament going forward. one of the most important things that will happen on a national level is the real growth of a political party system that represents interest but not just
personalities and i think going back is the question of national government. the afghans take a critical step in the last couple years to increase and begin increasing the say people have that the local level and how budgets are spent and represented and that needs to continue because at the end of the day, what people need to see is they have representation and the spoils -- we call them spoils in war but the money that is coming leader to weather from customs revenue or whenever, is being distributed in a reasonably equitable fashion and not being stolen by illicit power grabbers. and i think the best path in that direction is some aspect of the systems that will create a more inclusive politics because
ultimately people going to fight for their own interests and if they have a mechanism to do that then i think that will all get divided more evenly. >> resisted the formation of political parties in many other democratic systems and still does. there are political parties like jibad and talk of the coalitions that sound like political party coalitions even though they may not have formal party structure. what is usaid's policy and strategy for promoting that kind of inclusive politics identified as important especially when the clock is ticking and only a couple more years before the next coalition will form to contest presidential and other elections in 2014? >> usaid and others have invested heavily on two things.
one is since 2005 in the parliament is getting the parliament literally from scratch into a body that has some capacity, has professional staff. i can imagine if it functions like professional staff and the afghan parliament very much need some basic capacity. as they have capacity, we have seen over the last couple years they are not lying down and taking presidential pronouncements about which minister should surf or who doesn't get to sit in the parliament because of problems with the election. as they started to have the capacity to see what their legitimate role is i think that grows. that also includes political parties. political parties are illegal in afghanistan and there are many political parties. the problem is the electoral system doesn't promote a political party system. there are ways around that
within -- >> not permitted to run a party. all the members of parliament are independent in some technical sense. is that right? >> they can have party affiliation but they all run as individuals. the system in many ways about the system for electing them. it is a system that causes people to vote for individuals, being able to vote for parties anyway. >> as we finish up, go back to your map, you talk about provincial structures, governance and the experience of ordinary afghans being as it has long been shaped by their diverse local environment. take as a little bit around this map. we know if you map security incidents they would be right
along this band to south and east though there has been a spread of violence to the north over the last couple years. we also know in terms of human development, sort of -- afghans at the bottom of the global table but the worst historical party at the center of the country where things are peaceful. where are the success stories and where are the troubled areas in terms of the delivery of these changes, the web venus of those aggregate changes in education and health indicators you describe? >> let me give you two stories from two recent trips. i was in western afghanistan ended if any of you have been there, upon arriving in her rock --herat if the rest of afghanistan could look this way and ten years we're doing great. it is bling. the center for trade.
it has tensions like all other places but they are managing them. they're doing some interesting things. so i went to and industrial park that usaid held to fund across the street from the airport. herat is trying to make itself into an international airport. they have consolidated business in industrial parks to do things. we have industrial parks everywhere so they share electricity and water and security the personal proximity to the airport and all these things. so herat -- i visited the marble manufacturer and between herat on this road that goes through the center of afghanistan there is a great marble line. the mask marble in the world and their direct exporting that marble to italy. >> you drive that road?
>> i did not. i was a couple kilometers down that road. i have never been to the northwest. the interesting part of that story is the marble guy was also talking about the fact that this was updated marble manufacturing, marble cutting equipment in the world. but even though he was supposed to be getting an allocation of energy they weren't getting as much as they were supposed to and as a result he was having to pay huge amounts for diesel to run generators and using a lot of the money. there are some really good sort of -- herat is an amazing resource corridor. has a lot of things going for it. at the same time some of the
same sorts of challenges of capacity and corruption affect those. i was in the east in jalalabad and i met someone i like to say is the egg man of jalalabad. the single largest producer of eggs. the august told not only by him, in afghanistan. and also he sells enormous amounts of poultry. and he told me that he could sell more cheaply frozen chickens imported from brazil and argentina, that he could raise them in afghanistan with my news waiver costs and all those other things. and so it is a good story because this guy is literally importing chickens from halfway
around the world, has the energy to stalin before they rot but the business environment was not conducive to do that homegrown which is obviously -- afghanistan needs import substitution. they need to stop importing so much particularly food but a lot of little stuff and manufacture it themselves. it is not that it is that hard to do but it is hard to get sufficient level of investment given challenges with energy and land tenure and corruption. you don't have to fix everything but some tweets along the line of doing business survey would really help afghanistan enormously in those specific areas. >> you describe extensive bonds that the afghan government commits to improving not just in corruption affects but the world bank doing business affect them.
we often focused on corruption in the west, tax dollars that are an issue as well as concerns about the durability of the afghan state. but this doing business thinning is striking when you travel in afghanistan talking to afghans. it sounds remarkably difficult to do ordinary -- almost sounds like egypt or the frustration that builds up in tunisia in the regulatory environment, the climate of uncertainty that even small businesses in the agricultural sector require is not there. my question is why. is it just about petty corruption and take people off to get approval? why is there even such a regulatory regime in the first place given historical weakness? >> they are both internal and external challenges. the internal challenge bleep original corruption is part of it but only part of it.
obviously infrastructure is problematic. i will give you an example of pomegranate in kandahar. we had a huge air shipment of kandahar, granite in dubai. flying pomegranate is not the most effective -- cost-effective way. second problem is you couldn't even do that previously. you couldn't aggregate in of produce in afghanistan because you didn't have cold storage. >> a cold storage facility next to the airport. >> exactly. and you need energy. so there are a lot of just impediments in terms of the infrastructure. but part of it is also not corruption based but kind of problematic. one of the things the world bank does is it looks at the number
of steps you need to take to get a business like this in every country and often a, worst of all in countries like afghanistan where the regulatory regime is the -- you literally often have to go through $0.60. a little bit of that is about corruption but also inefficient bureaucracy. let's go and externally because afghanistan is landlocked and did is in a tough neighborhood. it is in a tough neighborhood from a political perspective and from an economic perspective. this is probably about the least economically integrated region in the world or at least -- it is not that you need to build up afghanistan's economy through aid. you need to unblock some of the pipes as it were or to build some of the pipes in the case of bringing in things like energy
into afghanistan. the problem is a lot of these countries don't cooperate especially well with each other either in terms of trade. if you could improve the regulatory environment for trade, one of the big things we did last year which was a huge deal with assisting the afghans and pakistani to review their transit training. it still hasn't fully take effect benefit does afghanistan could make almost instantaneous trade. hamid karzai says he wants afghanistan to be the roundabout of central asia. what he means by that is you see this round line that goes around, afghanistan's strategic position has historically been because there is an impenetrable mountain range between these two continents that were pushed together many years ago and it
is tough to get around it. if you could get through it afghanistan would make a tremendous gains. there are infrastructure problems and regulatory problems that would really be helped by better cooperation. >> one last question and a little bit with the audience. just to follow up. it is a tough neighborhood and i am sure you could tell stories about all afghanistan's neighbors but pakistan obviously is the neighbor that has figured most closely in afghanistan's struggles over the last 20 or 30 years and right now relations between afghanistan and pakistan seem shaky. between pakistan and the united states even shakier. in areas you worked in, trade and economic growth and the access of afghans to social and
education services what is pakistan's roll? is it attempting to stabilize afghanistan through constructive change as much as the transit trade agreement? is it blocking that potential in the same way that we see a little bit on the military side? what is your assessment? >> there are some -- if there are some interesting trends that are going on. one of the things that we have seen. and when this was prominent in the negotiations between afghans and pakistan is at the size of the trade agreement, transit trade across pakistan to india. this year, you never want to be optimistic but this year has seen potential breakthroughs in
india, pakistan trade which would be obviously fundamental for pakistan when you are revolutionary for their economy and it would also be very, very valuable for afghanistan. from an infrastructure perspective, all of the roads and potential for rail, all of that is improving across the board. baselines were low but if we look at transit trade here in the north and now potentially in the central area, there is infrastructure going in the bridge the lead is going to allow ridge to flow. ultimately that is more of a political question but you can't do it without the infrastructure. so the question is can some of these projects like some of the energy projects proposed coming
down from central asia, whether those can actually get underway. i believe this last trip, i was there a month ago and went to kabul and islamabad, right across and it was a very economically focused tripped and i met with business people all along the way. and i believe that there is a growing constituency both in afghanistan and pakistan of people who see the long-term future as one of economic integration that is going to continue to grow forward. >> thank you very much for taking my questions. let's take some from the audience. there is a young woman with a microphone there. there is a hand up to your left.
>> i am from c h f international. the most underfunded project in afghanistan. my question would you mentioned you highlighted the an f t project, you talk about how vote schools--the nfc was part of the creation and -- very generous and later on talking about the need for inclusive governance and focused on the need to build capacity at the parliamentary and political parties and all those guys that do attempt. what do you see usaid's role in terms of building for capacity of the civil society? in addition to the economic and stuff which builds capacity but that is different from the capacity of civil society. from when you are saying it is
very important to have a strong civil society. even if you build the capacity -- that worked in afghanistan, even the regular people don't necessarily trust the people they sent to parliament to do it because they are the workers in the region. so how do you plan moving forward building the capacity of the civil society to act as a monitoring force? >> couldn't agree more strongly with the presence of the question. afghanistan absolutely requires robust civil society that is going to go through and that is a central part of strengthening of the fabric of civil society that is more resilient. by far the best part for me was meeting with civil society folks ten years ago with a large
society conference that brought them -- women's groups and others that i met with all of them when i was there. offensively society, a popular misconception, afghan civil society overall is not as strong as it could be but afghan civil society actors are at amazing group of people who long before 2001 have been struggling mightily against many of the trends that have so affected afghanistan over the last three decades. in fact it always thrills me to see that in the 90s civil societies such as it was, a lot of folks working on media at things in pakistan, people who were working for ngos organizing peace conferences in the darkest
days, many of those people became ministers and deputy ministers in the new government. they became in many ways people from afghan civil society became sort of technocratic engine of the afghan government. not enough of them ended up in the government but the important thing is those voices are there the outside and inside the government. women's groups in particular. if you have not met with afghan women groups as many of their representatives come for washington it is worth going because this image of afghan women as victims will disappear from your mind when you engage with afghan women in society after. that is not to say that women don't face enormous challenges were sometimes victimized by odious practices but it is to say women have a powerful voice
and a powerful role and if you look again at where women have come politically in the last ten years you have 25% of the parliament is women. you have three ministers in the afghan government who are women a rising number. 220% of the afghan civil servants are women. these are down from an exceedingly low base line but it is critical for us to continue to support those currents within afghan society because no society, i don't believe, without a strong civil society where we had a strong role for women. >> we use the phrase civil society in washington to the point of meaning it is a catch all that covers so many subjects and is chivalrous in a way but civil society in afghanistan
faces the same problem of sustainability and durability the rest of the economy does so some of these groups have risen and play important roles and fill capacity with external aid that is going to decline and some are indigenous and started to develop their own momentum. what is afghan civil society in a self sustaining way now? the media have one central answer to that question. women's groups might be another. there's a human rights community that has some confidence. it is a very young society. we don't have natural beds of self sustaining movement like environmental movements in china or labor unions, or large self sustaining institutions. what is it realistic to concentrate on looking at this
point? >> continuing to build on the development of afghanistan. again, going from zero to a very broad bust media environment like television stations and 150 independent radio stations, afghans are it turns out very avid consumers of media as seems to be the case everywhere. fortunately for you. and i think continuing that is critical. but deepening it so that you have citizen engagement at the local level is really the way forward because it doesn't just happen through better information. people actually have to get involved. one of the interesting discussions that i had with the afghan women's network is that they want to set up a monitoring
organization for the reintegration process and at the same time they also want to have something like a national dialogue around a piece of reconciliation making sure a broader degree of voices are heard. what they started to do is because the official afghan recognized -- reconciliation program has established provincial offices they want to make sure there is a provincial civil society group in every province that does some of the watchdog functions that are so critical. i really do think it is about bringing those things locally. i want to say because it is important when we talk about declining resources someone is used to working in afghanistan because there was little money. a lot of these are not terribly expensive. they do require people to feel they can safely engage in this
activity. i think the political emphasis on civil society is going to be as important as the funding going forward. >> a woman by the camera. behind you. straight behind you. >> thanks very much. the friend committee on national legislation. not afghanistan or development expert but what we do know is violent conflict undermines development and can throw aside the best laid plans and from the experience in afghanistan we know the military is not very good at development even when it is part of a strategy where they are not trying to do good development but it can leave bad results and undermine long-term residents for development. my question is twofold. in terms of the military's role and doing development between now and 2014, what the plans or
status of that and at the 11 really being able to take the leadership of saying this is how we will do development and how it will go forward without the military continuing to do undermining projects and on the political side in terms of how do you mitigate or have contingency plans or have a strategy that is flexible to deal with possible political realities of conflict, how does your usaid strategy relate to a peace process to ensure the development plans can continue even if that process goes a different direction? >> i think sometimes people draw
a false dichotomy between stabilization and development. when you're looking at an environment like afghanistan, activities fall along the continuing. if you are building a school where it is relatively secure and building a school in helman in where it is less secure. both have stabilizing activities like the development -- i think usaid is very proud of the work it has done together with the military in trying to work in communities that have been so affected by conflict. and the goal is not just to support the military per se. it is to support those communities in being able to come out of conflict and be able to consolidate the gains and security because i do believe there's a critical relationship between insecurity and a lack of
development. in answer to the broader question, it really goes back to this question of building resilience. i believe that afghanistan because of its history over the last 30 years. reconciliation in afghanistan is not just talking with one group or another group. it hinges upon a broader social process. and that requires having a more inclusive political process. it requires sharing of the development around the country. includes providing people with a sufficient provision of a better future that they can become
invested in either literally -- so much afghan many leave the country. you don't necessarily need to attract major foreign investors into afghanistan although that would certainly be good, you also need to get afghans investing in their country. building that level of confidence is going to create the conducive environment over the long term for peace and reconciliation in afghanistan however that plays out. >> the gentleman in the back and we will come up front. >> thank you. my name is larry:and i am going to speak on behalf of the largest u.s. private-sector investors in afghanistan. alike to start. don't mean to rain on your parade but unfortunately what you described does not seem to be the reality on the ground at
this particular investor basis. for example you talked about the trade agreement. the trade agreement turned out to be an unmitigated disaster and appears in all likelihood it will have to be renegotiated. the issue you brought up of the poultry and egg producer in jalalabad. the question i would raise is can you possibly expect afghan producers do produce product at a price that will be affordable to the afghan consumer, that they could produce without subsidies, import substitution is a great economic practice but i don't think afghanistan is ready for that. also, in the experience of this particular investor the corruption is getting worse. >> you want to identify this investor? who are you speaking on behalf of? >> the name of the company is summit associates and they are
the only milk producer, commercial dairy in afghanistan and also at one time had 70% of the frozen poultry market which is mostly u.s. frozen poultry, not brazilian. the point here is it was a successful enterprise and over the last few years, overcorruption and trade issues and bureaucratic issues, the business climate has worsened and not improved. i won't go over it. >> can you ask the question? >> rather than ask the question, i ask that we do a reality check and look at afghanistan not being favorable to possible fbi and investment and we have been backtracking over the last few years. it has gotten much worse for the private sector. i don't think in our experience
with this businessman and his investment in afghanistan, we are moving in the direction. [talking over each other] >> let's let alex react to that. >> if you heard sugarcoating it doesn't come from me. rising insecurity, and other things doing business in afghanistan, made afghanistan enormously challenging. at the same time we do have to recognize the ways in which afghan people and afghan governments have made progress. it is not all good or all bad story. my message if i have one is there have been successes and what we need to do for those of us who care about the long-term trajectory of afghanistan and reinforce those areas where we do find success and to be
realistic about how we address the striking challenges -- >> can you talk about the transit trade agreement? one point was we didn't really see that as a success story at all. what is your audit of the transit trade agreement? >> as i noted it is a mixed story. there was great progress made on the negotiating an agreement implemented with the agreement, the challenge as with all these things couples in the implementation. the implementation has not yet been fruitful. it is going to be critical -- [talking over each other] >> what is it about the implementation that has worked? >> there are a lot of mechanisms that need to be put in place. very practical things in terms
of making it better or effective, widening of the road. putting in -- continues to be a dispute with their trucks leader of the afghan trucks can go into pakistan which is much more economical and advantageous that the afghans can view that. a lot needs to be worked through and implemented. nobody the 9 know of who works on these things has given up hope but we see optical implementation that needs to be overcome. >> this gentleman right there and we will wrap it up. >> i wanted to raise -- a few years ago an issue that got a lot of attention in the international community particularly in the u.k.. even though it is a problem on the ground it dropped off the agenda quite a lot but where do you see the narcotics peace in
afghanistan in 2014? >> i think our approach to the narcotics problem is a long-term one that is borne out by the experience in places like thailand and pakistan that have the end of the day you best deal with that most effectively by creation of reasonable economic alternative. that doesn't mean finding a silver bullet that is going to be more valuable. that is -- by increasing the opportunity available to people to safely grow and sell and market their goods combined with a modicum of what enforcement that poses a penalty. so you are just trying to adjust the cost. i think that is a long-term strategy and one that as we all know, the british government or
u.s. government have a partnership and burden. it is the single largest producer of opium anywhere in the world and the economic and agricultural process is significant but unrealized and if we are able to improve security to the extent that some of that is realized through irrigation, then i think there's a great chance that we will have an impact on that. but more aggressive eradication approach that existed earlier on is no longer what our primary approach is. >> collect the last two questions. the gentleman there. you want to ask a question? okay. the two in the front that selects those questions and we will wrap up. >> what can be done using the internet to get more
transparency and more local participation and get the various people involved who know what is going on and overcome the grocery problem? >> to your right is one more question. >> a concerned citizen. i want to pick up on what you said about food security and i wondered in light of the c o p 17 meeting whether afghanistan would be subjected to climate change in ways that will affect its agricultural production and if that is being taken into account in the planning of what is going to happen. >> thanks for both of those questions. on food security, usaid, one of our lead strategies is on agriculture and intended to do two things, to address the food
security challenge in afghanistan by dramatically increasing wheat yields and increasing irrigation which is part of increasing the yield and focusing on high-value crops that afghanistan used to export so successfully like poland's and raisins and pistachios. on the food security side afghanistan has chronic food insecurity in part due to drought. i don't know the future of climate change in afghanistan but when i do know is there are things we really can do to enhance food security in afghanistan and that really is about making it so that afghanistan relies less on annual rainfall for it's really dramatic wheat production swing and is able to rely more heavily on irrigation and water storage so that it can mitigate some of
those challenges and we are very focused on that problem because every few years there is a drought in afghanistan and i think that has a broader impact. on the transparency question i thank you for asking that because one of my personal jihads since joining the government 18 months ago has been to increase the transparency of the work that we do. i think too often it is not that anybody tries to hide it but the information really needs to be out there about what we are doing for everybody to see and how much it costs and what is working and what is not working. we are doing that by trying to dramatically increase our own web presence in terms of saying what is done but also supported the afghans in building up a system where is a report what aid flows are and the critical thing is they need the information. we work very heavily with the
world bank in the process of examining fiscal sustainability so they have all the assistance data which they felt they were having a hard time getting. but there's also another side to your question that i want to address. one of the things that we did a year ago, i came into this position and quickly got a briefing from an entity that looks at where aid goes in afghanistan. and i was a very concerned about reports that came out that a flows were either being misallocated toward corruption or going into the insurgency or both. and we put a mechanism in place the recall the afghan accountability assistance for afghanistan initiative. that does a couple fundamental things.
it addresses what i consider the subcontracting problem. people complained so much assistance goes from a subcontractor to subcontractor and we lose sight of it and that lessens the amount of assistance that gets to the afghan people. we have lessened the amount allowed subcontracting and increased oversight over subcontractors. another thing is we put a betting mechanism in place so that all of our funding when it goes into non u.s. subcontractors is getting much more heavily vetted. that process has been successful in eliminating a number of providers we otherwise got funding that popped up on various databases that are problematic. another thing we have done is increasingly working with more of our funding directly through the afghan government, through mechanisms like the afghan reconstruction trust fund that
is run by the world bank because we think we have much greater visibility over those funds than we do otherwise and a lot more of the money in the afghan economy that might be otherwise. at an end of the day, i can't claim that all of the work that we do is going to be perfect, but by building essentially a number of layers of accountability that didn't exist or strengthening those layers that weren't in place even 18 months ago i think that our impact and accountability have got up which is a core responsibility we have to taxpayers. >> alex, thank you so much for joining us today and being so forthcoming in your remarks and thank you all for your patience. sorry i didn't get to everybody's questions but join