Chronicle

Self-examination is the only way forward

I have attended the seminar "Make aid useful in Afghanistan". My view of the situation and how aid works in Afghanistan is not very broad. I do not really know what to expect from the conversation.

The seminar opens with Adam Pain, a visiting professor from SLU, who asks the rhetorical question: "What would Afghanistan look like if the Taliban were in power?". From there, he paints a picture of what the money brought into Afghanistan has led to - how aid has contributed to instability and corruption. It makes me think about how we often just move on without much reflection. Such questions that Adam Pain started with can take one on a bare deed - what should one even think or answer to that question? I do not know, but I know that what I take with me is the importance of self-examination, where we turn questions back and forth and land in something that moves us forward.

What does development aid contribute to and how should we improve and develop our cooperation with nations such as Afghanistan, so that those in need can be reached by it? Andreas Stefansson from the Swedish Afghanistan Committee mentions how the organization with about 6000 employees is one of the largest employers in Afghanistan - and that 99 percent of the employees are Afghans. How do we create similar opportunities and open up space for Afghans to create these opportunities themselves?

I did not know much about the situation in Afghanistan before the seminar, but after the conversation, my opinion on how aid policy should be conducted has been strengthened. Karin Kronlid, development analyst at Sida, points out that development assistance can make a difference, but it has its limits. When there are no conditions and structures that must be in place for a change to take place. I hear it and think it's time for more self-examination and reflection.

The assistance must have clear motives and goals and it cannot be based on the donors' agenda. We need to be involved in strengthening countries in their state-building, because as Adam Pain said: "We have states that guarantee our rights, but to what extent can we promote the rights of individuals when the basic needs and structures do not exist".

This is a chronicle. The author is responsible for analysis and opinions in the text.

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