Unique Data Collection Ensures Transparency in Afghan Reconstruction
By MSI Staff | July 11, 2019
The Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) was established in 2002 as a cost-effective and transparent method of pooling funds from 34 donors for the Government of Afghanistan’s budget and national investment priorities.
At $10.38 billion US dollars, the Fund is the largest financing source for the country’s development needs, and supports critical education, health, agriculture, rural development, infrastructure, and governance projects. In addition, it is the largest monitoring project of its kind that has ever been conducted in Afghanistan.
Administered by the World Bank, the project provides a mechanism for accountability and fosters consensus and policy debate among key stakeholders. It supports projects across key sectors including education, infrastructure, health, agriculture, rural development, and governance.
In 2015, MSI, a Tetra Tech Company, was awarded a contract to conduct site visits annually distributed between five projects. Despite numerous security and geographical challenges, MSI has conducted third-party monitoring for projects totally $1.8 billion throughout the country. Engineers and enumerators have conducted more than 6,200 site visits in all 34 provinces, including infrastructure inspections of schools, roads, canals and agricultural facilities supplemented by beneficiary and community member interviews.
The assessment of project sites by qualified engineers is only one aspect of the monitoring done by MSI. MSI has also implemented participatory monitoring, with qualified and vetted citizens helping validate local results in 17 different provinces across Afghanistan. Citizen monitors are selected community members who submit photographic data for analysis by coordinators in Kabul. Using citizen monitors on this scale and for infrastructure monitoring is new in Afghanistan, and provides an innovative, low-cost way to provide real-time monitoring data.
MSI also issued low-cost sensors in the field to remotely monitor water flow through canals and distribution of water to the neighboring command areas.
The resulting data sets are used by policymakers and development practitioners, and result in increased understanding of projects’ functionality, effectiveness, and sustainability. MSI analyzes the findings, identifies deviations, and establishes probable causes and possible solutions for these deviations.
MSI has been able to use its local engineers, citizen monitors and data collectors to expand oversight of ARTF activities countrywide, including places World Bank and ministry officials cannot visit for security reasons. As implementing ministries use the data to rectify observed deviations, citizens in remote and violence-prone areas develop a belief that their government is willing and able to act on their behalf, a key ingredient to stabilizing contested areas. This is a key U.S. strategic goal in Afghanistan.