Donors Pledge $15 Billion for Afghan Rebuilding

Karzai presented a $50 billion five-year development plan to the donors. He pledged to fight corruption, saying how the aid is spent is just as important as the aid itself.

The Afghan leader also urged donors to better coordinate aid efforts. “The current development process that is marred by confusion and parallel structures undermines institution building,” he said, quoted Reuters.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged donors to coordinate and increase their efforts in Afghanistan, and insisted on better governance by the Afghans, reported the Associated Press.

“Every act of corruption is a deliberate act by someone in a position of authority,” he said.

Karzai said increasing the number of farmers and making them less dependent on the drug trade is crucial to his country’s development, according to the AP. Afghanistan is the world’s biggest producer of opium.

Conference host French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged a new international strategy for aid that would include handing more responsibility for managing the aid to Afghans.

Despite receiving $15 billion in aid since the 2001 ouster of the Taliban regime, most Afghans still live in mud-brick homes without proper sanitation, and 80 percent have no electricity, according to the AP.

The Taliban continue to recruit in desperately poor areas, and their insurgency is gaining steam, according to reports from the region.

More than 65 countries and a dozen international organizations attended Thursday’s donor conference in Paris.

Among the contributions, the United States promised $10.2 billion over two years, Britain pledged $1.2 billion, Germany $648 million, Japan $550 million, Australia $234 million, France $165 million and Belgium $46 million, according to Reuters. The Asian Development Bank pledged $1.3 billion over five years, and the World Bank offered $1.1 billion over five years.