Government of Finland

08/13/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 08/13/2019 06:34

Suspicion of misuse of development cooperation funds in an education sector project funded from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund

The World Bank has carried out an in-depth review of the operation and finances of the Education Quality Improvement Program II (EQUIP II), a project of the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), carried out in 2008-2017. The ARTF is administered by the World Bank. Based on preliminary results, the review detected defects in documentation and possible mismanagement of procurement in the project.

Supported by several donors, the project's financial value was USD 418 million in 2008-2017. The project aimed to improve the quality of educational inputs and processes, and Finland supported it as part of its overall funding of the ARTF by approximately EUR 2.5 million a year in 2014-2017.

The Afghan authorities have been requested to provide supplementary documentation. Regarding mismanagement of procurement, the matter has been submitted to the World Bank's Integrity Vice Presidency (INT) for investigation. If it is determined that funds have been misused, the World Bank will initiate recovery of the funds in accordance with its standard procedure. The procurements do not include funding channelled to the project from Finland.

The World Bank and the Government of Afghanistan take the preliminary results of the review with due seriousness, and the Government of Afghanistan has initiated corrective measures. Finland's Embassy in Kabul and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Helsinki will follow the progress in the investigation closely, together with the other donors.

The education programme's main aim was to increase a balanced access to quality education especially for girls. During the project cycle, girls' enrolment to basic education rose from 1.9 million to 3.4 million, while the corresponding figures for boys were 2.1 million and 5.5 million. In addition, more than 8,000 new classrooms were built in the project.

Inquiries: Titta Maja, Director of the Unit for South Asia, tel. +358 50 358 7247.