Even though the U.S. has spent more than $8 billion on efforts to thwart the opium cultivation and trade in Afghanistan, the problem is “worse than ever,” according to the latest report to Congress by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).
Afghanistan remains the world’s leading producer of opium, “with production hitting an all-time high last year,” wrote John F. Sopko, the author of the Oct. 30 report. Sopko is SIGAR’s special inspector general.
The ongoing results are a country with a populace mired in addiction-related misery, and a stream of money to fund the efforts of insurgents.
“No counterdrug program undertaken … by the United States, its coalition partners, or the Afghan government resulted in lasting reductions in poppy cultivation or opium production,” the report stated.
Sopko also said that both the U.S. military nor the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have stated they have no counter-narcotics mission in Afghanistan, or plans to implement one – a stance that that will become the subject of a review at the request of the Senate. U.S. agencies are leaving the anti-narcotics mission to the Afghan government.
The report also included results of two SIGAR audits. One concluded that despite USAID’s three-year, $89.7-million effort to promote gender equality in Afghanistan, the agency has yet to assess the initiative’s results. The other examined the results of several infrastructure-related projects, which resulted in “$414.6 million in questioned costs.”
The report also cited other illegal activities that resulted in 132 criminal convictions and $1.5 billion in savings and recoveries to the U.S. government.