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USAID gave Pakistani group millions to create jobs, got none

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Watchdog,Watchdog Blog,Michal Conger,Jobs,Pakistan

A Pakistani organization that was awarded $89.4 million in 2011 to create jobs for farmers has given grants to 110 agriculture projects, but has so far failed to create a single job and is managing its project so poorly it could be shut down before the end of the summer.

The U.S. Agency for International Development awarded a sole-source contract to Agribusiness Support Fund, a Pakistani non-governmental organization, even though the NGO has little experience managing major projects and earned a "high risk" assessment from USAID during the grant process.

ASF's goal is to create jobs and boost the local economy by helping farmers grow crops, raise animals and sell their goods. But because of bad management and poor aid, the project hasn't done either, according to an audit by the USAID inspector general.

"The audit team found that it has not had much success in achieving the two goals," the report said.

One project, a group of pickle producers, didn't have access to the market and couldn't sell their pickles even with ASF's help. After ASF staff took them to several local stores to peddle their produce, the farmers ended up selling their pickles to friends and families.

Two groups of goat farmers were given only female goats.

"Without a male goat, it would be impossible to breed goats as the activity intended," the IG noted.

None of the five projects the IG audited, awarded a total of $36,206, are sustainable, casting doubt on the viability of ASF's other 105 grants, according to the IG. And because USAID has limited oversight of projects costing less than $5,000, more than 80 percent of these failing ASF grants don't need agency approval.

ASF didn't begin awarding grants until the second year of its project. It spent the first developing handbooks and work plans to comply with USAID policy. But even after a year spent developing a management plan, the NGO is unable to manage its project, according to the IG.

USAID will decide by July 8, 2013 whether it will terminate the grant project or simply make it small enough for ASF to manage.

Go here to read the full report.

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