FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 29, 2011 Contact: Melissa Price (571) 366-1596 press@ird-dc.


IRD Responds to Washington Post Story Entitled: “U.S. Military Dismayed by Delays in 3 Key Development Projects” Published April 29, 2011
ARLINGTON, VA — Dr. Arthur Keys, President and CEO of IRD stated today: "I was concerned when reading a Washington Post article by its Afghanistan reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran which inaccurately portrayed the situation on the ground in Afghanistan with civilian stabilization programs implemented by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and including our organization, International Relief & Development (IRD). While the story accurately portrayed USAID and the U.S. military's strong support for IRD efforts in Afghanistan, other aspects related to IRD's alleged mismanagement of certain aspects of the program were based on anonymous sources that are unsupported by documentary evidence." In addition, Jeffrey Grieco, IRD's Chief of Communications and Government Affairs stated: "What is even more surprising is that less than one year ago, Mr. Chandrasekaran had embedded with USAID/Afghanistan and IRD within our Kandahar and Helmand Province stabilization program (entitled AVIPA Plus). This ground level tour led to a very positive article by Mr. Chandrasekaran on May 31, 2010, complimenting the program." The IRD AVIPA Plus program is focused on improving stability so American troops can hand off security responsibility to the Afghan Government and head home. IRD AVIPA Plus and similar U.S. civilian stabilization programs are a critical part of that programming. IRD AVIPA Plus works to help stabilize Helmand and Kandahar provinces and has helped to improve stability and conditions on the ground there in support of U.S. national security programming. Importantly, U.S. and Afghanistan officials also consider this program a significant success, especially as measured against the programs stabilization objectives. This is not a development program but a stabilization program which, if successful, will make longer term development in Afghanistan feasible. In his State Department press conference last April, Administrator Shah reiterated his support for AVIPA Plus: "The opportunity to travel to Arghandab, which is just outside of Kandahar, really reinforced many things we're saying. I saw a strong civilian and military cooperation, especially at that outpost - a combined effort of providing agricultural vouchers to local farmers working to improve the irrigation system in that area, helping to improve some of the road infrastructure. Those things have really made a difference. So in an area that covered about 35,000 people east of the river there, you now see a lush agricultural environment. We visited pomegranate orchards and other environments where people are excited to be participating in a vibrant local agricultural economy. And from a security perspective, I think everyone acknowledged that from September onward, when this program really accelerated, they all feel more secure and our own military reports an improvement in the security situation in that context. So that's - it's a good example of how, when we work together, things can work. And it does leave people hopeful for a brighter future." In addition, the late U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke stated before Congress in 2010 his views of the AVIPA Plus program: ---more--International Relief & Development
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"We were spending more money on poppy eradication than agriculture. We made agriculture our top non-security priority. […] We have cash-for-work programs, we have the AVIPA Plus program, we work on alternate crops – saffron, pistachios, pomegranates […] it's an agricultural country. When we create agricultural jobs, we deny a recruiting tool to the Taliban. […] And we believe that this is really paying off. Raj (Shah, USAID Administrator) and I agree that this is our most successful program on the civilian side." In closing, due to the hard work and sacrifice of our largely Afghan national staff on the IRD AVIPA Plus program we have achieved unprecedented benchmarks of success on this civilian-led stabilization initiative including: 1. In Kandahar and Helmand provinces alone, where tremendous instability had existed, IRD AVIPA Plus implemented more than 1,043 cash for work projects, which have employed more than 152,000 laborers since 2009 and injected more than $37 million in wages into the local economy, equivalent to the creation of 30,600 full time jobs. 2. Over 1.1 million agricultural voucher packages generating over $328,000,000 in crop value were distributed to farmers throughout Afghanistan since 2008 and contributed to the largest wheat production in recent Afghan history. 3. Over 500 small grants worth $21.5 million were disbursed to over 60,000 beneficiaries helping to improve agricultural productivity. 4. 380,040 hectares of arable land were improved by AVIPA irrigation and farm improvement projects. 5. Over 2,200 projects were implemented in close collaboration with the Afghan Government and local communities. For a more specific response to the Washington Post story and its inaccuracies, please read IRD's Questions and Answers on the April 29 Washington Post Article. IRD is a non-profit humanitarian and development organization dedicated to improving the lives and livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable people. IRD specializes in conflict and post-conflict environments and works in more than 40 countries. With the help of local groups and donors, IRD builds sustainable, community-based programs that address relief, stabilization and development needs in the areas of health, agriculture, infrastructure, emergency response, and governance. For more information on IRD, visit ###

International Relief & Development
1621 North Kent Street Fourth Floor Arlington, VA 22209 P 703.248.0161 F 703.248.0194