America’s Burn Rate In Afghanistan

America has invested in a massive public works program…it just happens to be in Afghanistan:

In the rush to rebuild Afghanistan, the U.S. government has charged ahead with ever-expanding development programs despite questions about their impact, cost and value to America’s multi-billion-dollar campaign to shore up the pro-Western Afghan president and prevent Taliban insurgents from seizing control.

Some U.S. officials and contractors acknowledge privately that they’re spending more on high-profile, flawed projects because of the pressure to show results quickly that could help bolster the government of President Hamid Karzai.

The officials and contractors would speak to McClatchy only if their names weren’t used because they feared losing their jobs or government business.

They described how U.S. officials in Afghanistan for years have imposed so-called “burn rates,” in which the Afghan government or contractors are expected to spend a certain amount of money each year.

Though U.S. officials identified the construction problems years ago, the USAID continued to fund the buildings aggressively without making sure they met international safety codes.

Now American officials are evaluating nearly 1,000 U.S.-funded buildings in Afghanistan to determine whether they were constructed without taking earthquake dangers into account.

Of the first 206 buildings in high-risk areas that were inspected, USAID officials concluded that 129 — most of them schools or clinics — are at serious risk of collapsing in an earthquake.

Making matters worse, American officials said they didn’t have any money set aside to address the problems.

“Can you imagine what would happen if there was an earthquake and one of these schools collapsed?” one U.S. official asked.

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