Bizarre Range of Aid Projects in Afghanistan

skateistan_logoWith millions to spend on aid projects on Afghanistan, the US has managed to provide funding for some rather strange projects. The New York Times reports on the range of grant recipients that have managed to succeed and fail.

One group, Young Women for Change, run by an Afghan woman attending college in the United States and two friends here, said it received American Embassy financing to put on a fashion show in February, which it described as a “female empowerment project.” The audience was largely foreigners and journalists.

“I think we should spend American money in more practical and lasting ways,” said Daoud Sultanzoy, a commentator for Tolo TV, an Afghan station that itself has received millions. “People come here with an idea and want to do it in this country, but they open us to critics and even attacks by the conservatives in this country, and there are many of them.”

Some bizarre-sounding aid groups have done very well. Skateistan, an Australian aid group that teaches skateboarding to Afghan children, would not seem to make much sense in a country where even the potholes have potholes. But it built a skate park and provided schooling and lunches for street children here, attracting support from several European governments.

Even the more straightforward projects have their problems. The article also mentions a USAID women empowerment project in Kandahar that would provide bikes for women. Problem is, says the article, that riding around in a bike while dressed in a full-body burqa is a bit challenging.

HT Glenna Gordon


About Author

Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy is a New Hampshire-based reporter for Humanosphere. Before joining Humanosphere, Tom founded and edited the aid blog A View From the Cave. His work has appeared in Foreign Policy, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, GlobalPost and Christian Science Monitor. He tweets at @viewfromthecave. Contact him at tmurphy[at]