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Citation Information

Type Working Paper
Title Here’s the best thing the United States has done in Afghanistan.
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2013
URL http://www.popline.org/node/579249
The 2010 Afghanistan Mortality Survey showed that, from 2004 to 2010, life expectancy had risen from just 42 years -- the second-lowest rate in the world -- to 62 years, driven by a sharp decline in child mortality. Doubts immediately crept in about the findings, particularly the child mortality decline, but a new survey in 2011 confirmed that child mortality was indeed declining rapidly, and the United Nations Children’s Fund’s September 2013 global report calculates an overall decline for Afghanistan of more than 25 percent from 2000 to 2012. Afghanistan’s progress against mortality reflects the success of providing health aid that differed radically from the bulk of American aid to Afghanistan during the war. The USAID program that contributed to the decline was a multilateral effort coordinated by Afghanistan’s own Ministry of Public Health. Results were verified by random sampling, and some funding was linked to measures of performance. This internal policy experiment, however, was destined to provoke resistance. More surprising is the source of resistance to an aid program that attempted to stop simply throwing money at a problem and focus on building sustainable systems: auditors.

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