A roadside bomb tore through a truck carrying workers to a Canadian-funded development project in Kandahar on Tuesday, killing 10 Afghan laborers and injuring another 28.
The Taliban have said in the past that such foreign aid projects were, in their minds, considered legitimate military targets and any civilians working on them would be killed.
The workers were earning about $4 a day – a decent wage in a country with an unemployment rate that ranges from 35% (according to the CIA World Factbook) to 70% (according to Afghanistan’s National Worker’s Union); not to mention a country where a large portion of the population gets by on $1 a day.
This incident comes just days after more than 100 insurgents from the Haqqani network, a Taliban affiliate, killed 35 and wounded 24 at a construction company outpost in southeastern Paktia province. The Independent reported that nearly every one of the base’s 85 guards, engineers and laborers were killed, kidnapped or wounded.
The Taliban are obviously trying to prevent reconstruction and get the Afghan population to turn against the NATO alliance. As they launch their spring offensive, the Taliban appear to be accomplishing this mission. A recent study by the International Council on Security and Development (ICOS) indicated that nearly 90% of Afghan men in key southern districts were now opposed to the foreign occupation.
Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported in March that Taliban militants cut off the ears of four Afghans working for a government-funded development project in Kandahar.
When they aren’t attacking construction companies the Taliban are often “taxing” them. Some say it’s impossible to work in certain areas without paying bribes to local commanders.
But insurgent violence isn’t the only reason development investment is going to waste. As reported at the end of last year, NATO has misspent billions on wasteful projects that have fed a corrupt patronage system, with many of the dollars funding the Taliban movement both unknowingly and with intent to achieve profit at any cost.
$52 billion has been spent in US aid since 2001 yet not a dent has been made on the devastating poverty that plagues Afghanistan.
Development projects are poorly structured and ineffectively managed, with success measured by the amount spent rather than by productivity levels.
Large companies with ties to Washington driven by an overriding profit motive have created an unwieldy network of subcontractors who skim off funds and leave little left to actually complete projects and leave little left for the people that need it the most.