Posted By: Erica
While much of the humanitarian aid in Afghanistan is channeled through non-governmental organizations, government aid agencies, or development budgets of foreign missions here, many of the US and NATO military officers may also be involved in direct humanitarian aid and development in the areas that their Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) control.
PRTs are the regional military command centers created to support the stability of the Afghan government beyond Kabul. However, some NATO countries also give their PRTs discretionary funding for more humanitarian work. At one US-operated PRT I visited, there was an on-site staff member from the United States Agency for International
Development (USAID) who had a budget for development and reconstruction projects in that region. Another US PRT I visited had no explicit civilian aid staff but there were few to no humanitarian workers operating in that region so the US military personnel there decided to fill the gap themselves — from funding road and school construction to helping local officials get out to meet their constituents to trying to formalize de facto democratic leadership structures at a village level.
In the next post, I’m going to discuss in greater detail some of the pros and cons of PRT involvement in humanitarian aid, and the implications it had for three Afghan orphans whose story I learned of recently.