Afghanistan Agricultural Program: Poor Coordination, Waste & Mismanagement

Today SIGAR released an alert letter highlighting concerns with USAID’s Southern Regional Agricultural Development (S-RAD) program, a $70 million cooperative agreement awarded to International Relief and Development (IRD).  SIGAR’s review found poor coordination, waste, and mismanagement under S-RAD was allowed to occur because USAID did not exercise effective oversight.  Additionally IRD did not effectively coordinate and execute the S-RAD project activities.

Among the problems identified:

-USAID did not review and approve IRD’s work plan for the S-RAD until four months after the start of the one-year program, when $44 million had already been obligated.

-One of the USAID officials involved in facilitating the approval process of the work plan was a former IRD employee who joined USAID one month prior to the program being awarded to IRD.

-Farm Tractors: In contradiction to the work plan IRD purchased four-wheel tractors, at an additional cost of $1.2 million, and a USAID officer retroactively approved the purchase without any documented explanation.  One-third of the 95 tractors distributed in Kandahar — worth more than $560,000 — could not be located, according to an October, 2012, study.

-Solar Panels: IRD distributed 300 sets of solar panels, worth $690,000.  U.S. officials expressed objections to IRD’s solar panel distribution program, citing the potential for theft or resale.  The district governor and local Afghan officials strongly objected to the solar panel distribution program, believing it unnecessary.

-Agricultural Supplies: IRD implemented the agricultural supplies distribution program in Kandahar — at a cost of approximately $7.8 million — even though some U.S. officials expressed concerns to IRD about the high cost and questionable value of these projects.

-Irrigation Pump Assemblies: USAID approved IRD expenditures of more than $23 million to purchase, store, secure, and distribute 16,000 irrigation pumps. However, neither USAID nor IRD officials were able to explain how they determined that Helmand province needed 16,000 irrigation pumps and acknowledged that they had not conducted a capability needs assessment.

Alert Letter: http://www.sigar.mil/pdf/alerts/SIGAR%20Alert%2013-2%20S-RAD.pdf

Photos from Alert Letter: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sigarhq/sets/72157634357971850/

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