Since its inception, Integrity Watch Afghanistan has been promoting transparency in the government-run infrastructure projects. With establishment of Reconstruction Assessment Program (ReCAP) in August 2015, IWA aims to address the problems in areas where corruption, fraud and waste of public assets are pervasive such as the planning, procurement, disclosure and maintenance of infrastructure projects. ReCAP is working towards this goal by collaborating with a United States oversight agency, Special Inspector General for Reconstruction of Afghanistan (SIGAR), through conducting independent assessments of the Afghan public facilities that are funded by United States government. In addition, ReCAP is managing the establishment of functional Construction Sector Transparency (CoST) initiative in Afghanistan which would facilitate disclosure of construction project information into the public domain, interpreting the disclosed information, and delivering key messages to the public.
ReCAP therefore, in construction sector, hopes that the Afghan state is responsive, accountable, and transparent to all of its citizens. The program also envisions that the donor community is working in close coordination with Afghan government and Civil Society to ensure the quality of infrastructure projects and citizens and communities have access to well-constructed and sustainable infrastructure.
In support of this vision, the ReCAP program works with governmental oversight entities, donor community, Afghan government and civil society organizations to identify, prosecute and avoid corruption, fraud, waste and negligence in building and maintenance of public construction projects. ReCAP performs independent comprehensive engineering evaluations, observatory inspections and specific surveys to highlight the state of public construction projects. In addition, ReCAP conducts policy-relevant research to provide government decision makers solutions on how to insitutionalize transparency and integrity in the infrastructures sector. Moreover, ReCAP program works closely with civil society organizations to build up a coalition among CSO actors who are active in transparency of construction sector and advocate for change.
The building and renovation of Afghanistan’s infrastructures began in 2001 and since then construction has evolved into the second largest sector of the economy, generating significant amounts of money and jobs. However, like many other areas, this sector is greatly affected by a lack of expertise, coordination, innovation and transparency. The first major contributor to this circumstances is the procurement challenge which the Afghan government is faced with. The donor community performs its own procurement for its construction projects and usually allows no oversight of the Afghan government during the project planning and awarding stages. According to the donor community, Afghan government does not have effective policies, mechanisms and competent capacity to plan, design, implement and maintain infrastructure projects. The result is lack of coordination between donors and Afghan government that eventually leads to the waste of fund and weak utilization of the resources.
Second major problem in construction sector is the lack of oversight and non-adherence to the contract requirements. Due to the security challenges, mostly quality assurance process is not regularly or properly performed. The donor community has to depend on third party monitoring which leaves them with information that is limited, selected and is prone to falsification.
The third challenge is the lack of proper planning for operation and maintenance both by the donors as well as Afghan government. Most projects are either unaffordable or not a priority for Afghan government, yet the donor community funds and implement them. The Afghan government on the other hand is not giving sufficient budget and personnel for operating and maintaining the newly built or renovated public facilities.