The Afghan government is planning a new program to replace the already-implemented bread distribution program to families in need during the COVID-19 crisis. But questions are being raised about the alleged embezzlement of funds allocated for the project.
According to Kabul Municipality, the initial bread distribution program started on April 29 and continued for 40 days.
Data by the Ministry of Finance shows the bread distribution process cost Afs2.8 billion (over $36 million) of which Afs1.15 billion (over $14.8 million) was spent in Kabul.
Kabul Municipality's data indicates that 311,320 families were covered in Kabul for 40 days in the first phase, receiving 15 million pieces of bread.
The new program, titled "national dining table," will be supported by the World Bank and will begin within the next twenty days, according to officials.
The Office of the First Vice President, which is responsible for organizing the program, provided information stating that the program will be much larger than previous programs.
The new program will cover 90% of Afghanistan's population -- more than 29 million people, according to officials.
"The Afghan government is working with the World Bank and other relevant agencies in this area,” said Rezwan Muradi, Head of Press and Communications for the first vice president's office.
Muradi said the cost of the program and the amount and type of food to be distributed have not yet been determined. But President Ashraf Ghani announced a few days ago that $300 million will be allocated to the program.
“So far, no final decision has been made on what this should look like and who will handle the program,” said Daud Sultanzoy, Kabul mayor.
Researchers say they believe that such programs are costly with irregularities and problems in the transportation sector and other sectors.
“Economic research in the world show that cash distribution programs to the needy can be much easier, more convenient and more transparent compared to the food distribution programs,” said Nazir Kabiri, head of Al-Biruni research institute in Kabul.