The U.S. has so far wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars building a medical clinic outside Kabul that remains unused since it was first erected in 2011, according to an inspector general for Afghanistan.
The Walayatti Medical Clinic, constructed in Kabul province, was completed in January 2011 using $194,572 in Commander's Emergency Response Program funds. This money is allocated to U.S. commanders in Afghanistan to pay for humanitarian projects they deem essential. Afghan construction firm Bonyad Watan Limited received a 180-day contract to build an 11-room clinic, a latrine to accommodate both men and women and a one-room guard tower.
According to a report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the facility was not built to specification, many key elements are missing and it remains in oversight limbo as the Afghan government has not yet determined how to staff the clinic or fill it with the supplies it needs.
"A crucial factor in the selection and success of a CERP-funded construction project is whether the facilities built will be used as intended by the communities they were meant to serve," SIGAR says in a report released Wednesday. "By this criterion, Walayatti medical clinic cannot be considered a success."
Plans for the latrine included a wall to divide the building into two rooms with two bathroom stalls each, to allow for both women and men to use it simultaneously. The actual facility is one room with four stalls.
Floor plans included in the SIGAR report show the main clinic building's layout deviated from the original design. Entrances, rooms and dividing walls are not where they should be, according to the original plans.
The facility is also missing a well house for a water pump, and a 120-kilowatt generator to provide electricity. The guard building, which should not have been divided into rooms as it has, only contains one 24-kilowatt generator for the compound, according to the report.
"As a result, the almost $200,000 of the U.S. taxpayer funds spent to date on the Walayatti clinic appears to have been wasted, unless the facility is used as intended," the report states.
Representatives for Bonyad Watan were not available for comment in time for this report.
SIGAR also documents an incomplete paper trail between the U.S. forces that first assigned the contract to Bonyad Watan, why there was no oversight of the construction errors, and that the Afghan Ministry of Public Health formally accepted responsibility to operate and maintain the facility.
A subsequent exchange with a stability operations and plans official with the U.S. Army in that region indicated the ministry had indeed assumed responsibility for the compound, but could not proceed with opening the clinic due to local disputes.
U.S. officials met with an Afghan ministry representative on Oct. 22, wrote Army Col. James H. Reynolds in a memo to SIGAR in response to a draft version of this report. That Afghan official said the facility had been properly transferred to MOPH after completion of construction.
"MOPH attempted to staff the Walayatti Medical Clinic with personnel from the neighboring community of Bini Hissar, which caused a conflict," Reynolds wrote. "The locals from Bini Hissar protested the movement of MOPH staff from their community and the personnel transfer was canceled."
Afghan government officials had been trying to staff the clinic since it was completed in January 2012. Reynolds says they have decided to use the compound as a "library and administrative facility" until it can be turned into a fully functional clinic.
SIGAR was not able to verify independently this change in oversight.
The special inspector general has documented misuse of funds on Afghan government facilities for months as the U.S. prepares to withdraw all combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. The U.S. wasted $34 million on an 64,000-square-foot headquarters building that as of July had not been used, and indeed should never have been built, SIGAR reported.
But not all of SIGAR's investigations have uncovered waste.
A medical clinic similar to the facility in Walayatti was completed in the village of Qala-I-Muslim in April 2013. It cares for the 7,000 inhabitants of that region, and so far has been used by 4,000. Under the management of the Public Health Ministry, it has been open for 15 months, completed 1,565 outpatient consultations, treated 63 prenatal patients and delivered 63 babies.