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ProPublica Examines USAID Efforts To Fund, Train Local Organizations In Pakistan

“As the United States prepares to drastically increase civilian aid in Pakistan, [USAID,] the agency in charge has asked for help training the local organizations that will spend that aid money, saying those organizations ‘do not meet the minimum standards for managing’ U.S. government funds,” ProPublica reports in a story that examines the challenges associated with channeling aid money for Pakistan away from American contractors and NGOs to Pakistani organizations.

While administration officials say doing so “would help build stronger Pakistani institutions,” some development experts have “questioned whether Pakistan’s history of corruption and lax accounting standards would increase the risk to U.S. taxpayers’ money,” the news service writes. At the heart of the issue is the recent commitment of $7.5 billion in nonmilitary aid from the U.S. to Pakistan over five years.

To help settle the issue, USAID posted a request last week for “comments and suggestions on how to train Pakistani organizations, including government ministries, contractors and nongovernmental organizations,” ProPublica reports. According to USAID, the information obtained through comments will be used “to help draft a request for applications for its ‘Assessment and Strengthening Program,’ a five-year, $25 million project intended to screen Pakistani organizations and improve the way they operate,” the news service writes.  

The article includes comments by several experts on USAID’s approach in Pakistan (Flavelle, 1/8).