How US aid lifts Afghans

Development agency points to social gains.

Musadeq Sadeq/AP
An Afghan teacher writes a question on a board in a high school on the outskirts of Kabul on July 5. Since 2002, aid funding has increased the number of teachers in Afghanistan from 25,000 to 175,000.

The United States recently designated Afghanistan a “major non-NATO ally,” a move that will make it easier for the Afghan government to acquire defense equipment from the US and that could ultimately boost the nation’s emergence as a democracy.

How has Afghanistan fared in terms of converting other forms of American assistance to measurable social advancement?

The US Agency for International Development met July 7-9 in Tokyo with some 70 partners on Afghanistan’s transition. The group looked ahead, and also back at the gains of the past 10 years. Some USAID claims, particularly on health, have been challenged in the past. And observers maintain that whether these gains are sustainable remains unknown.

Some progress cited by the organization at the Tokyo summit: 


•Since 2006, the US has funded $316 million in education initiatives, increasing the number of teachers from 20,000 in 2002 to over 175,000 today, 30 percent of whom are women.

•In 2002, an estimated 900,000 boys were in school and virtually no girls. Now there are 8 million students enrolled in school, with nearly 40 percent girls.


•Since 2006, the US has invested nearly $643 million in health-care initiatives, training some 22,000 health-care workers.

•Access to basic health services (ability to reach a facility within one hour by foot) has risen from 9 percent in 2001 to more than 60 percent today. 

Economic infrastructure:

•Since 2006, the US has funded $1.6 billion in infrastructure projects and $386 million in agriculture development.

•In 2002, only 6 percent of Afghans had access to reliable electricity. Today 18 percent do, and more than 2 million people in Kabul now benefit from electric power 24 hours a day.

Democracy and governance:

•Since 2006, the US has funded $1.8 billion in rule of law and counternarcotics programs.

•The Justice Sector Support Program has trained more than 14,000 Afghan investigators, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges since its launch in 2004.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to