The World Bank administers the ARTF with integrity and an emphasis on ensuring value for money in ARTF financing.
In an environment as complex as Afghanistan, the World Bank Group has robust systems to ensure that ARTF funds are spent as intended to deliver development results. It works closely with government partners to monitor and support the implementation of programs. All World Bank projects include grievance redress mechanisms that empower citizens to raise concerns. The ARTF partnership finances additional fiduciary measures that provide controls tailored specifically to Afghanistan’s context. These measures complement the alignment and coordination benefits of the ARTF with robust transparency and accountability mechanisms.
Enhanced Fiduciary Control Framework
As the ARTF Administrator, the World Bank applies a multi-layered fiduciary control framework to ARTF projects that aims to establish strong controls, generate continuous learning, and build capacity. The approach combines the World Bank’s regular risk management and fiduciary control framework with ARTF-specific enhancements, including third-party monitoring covering both fiduciary controls and project monitoring and a portfolio-wide emphasis on fiduciary and safeguards measures supported by the Anti-Corruption Results Monitoring Action Program (ACReMAP) window.
Even the strongest fiduciary controls cannot prevent fraud and corruption entirely. An independent unit within the World Bank Group, the Integrity Vice Presidency, investigates and pursues sanctions related to allegations of fraud and corruption in World Bank Group financed projects, including projects financed by WB-administered trust funds such as the ARTF. The World Bank Group provides multiple channels, both attributable and anonymous, for reporting concerns about corruption.
Learn more about how to report a concern about corruption.
Third Party Monitoring
ACReMAP finances the World Bank’s largest third-party monitoring program, providing extensive support to supplement project supervision in Afghanistan, where security conditions constrain the ability of World Bank staff to travel to program sites around the country.
Since January 2020, all third-party monitoring services have been provided by a Third-Party Monitoring Agent (TPMA) consortium, which provides financial monitoring, physical monitoring, and a range of reporting and analysis services under a single contract financed through the ARTF ACReMAP window.
- Statement of Expenditure reviews to verify project spending is consistent with World Bank requirements, and Internal Controls Assessments to reduce project risks;
- Comparing sub-project financial and physical progress to identify potential excess payments, estimating the financial cost of fixing identified deviations, and undertaking site-specific transaction reviews of recruitment and sub-project procurement; and
- Recurrent Cost Window monitoring, including testing of expenditure and physical verification of Government employees.
TPMA physical monitoring reports are made publicly available on the ARTF website. Physical monitoring provides site visits in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan, including hard-to-reach areas, to:
- Verify civil service employees and beneficiary payments;
- Verify the distribution of goods, equipment and other project inputs;
- Provide a range of engineering assessments, from large-scale construction such as highways, bridges and schools to community check dams, borewells and irrigation canals;
- Assess compliance with World Bank environmental and social safeguards requirements; and
- Interview community members and project beneficiaries.
Prior to January 2020, third-party monitoring services were divided between a series of Monitoring Agent (MA) contracts and Supervisory Agent (SA) contracts. MA services, in place since the ARTF was established in 2002, focused on financial monitoring, which in the early years of the fund focused primarily on RCW financial monitoring in particular. A second SA contract was added in 2011, initially to provide engineering assessments of ARTF-financed infrastructure sites. Over time, SA services were gradually expanded to encompass community level processes and other “soft” development activities. Under the FY1397-FY1399 (2018-2020) PFFP, the WB focused on increasing the integration between the two strands of third-party monitoring service, eventually culminating in the integrated contract that is currently in place.
ARTF Audit Letters
Afghanistan’s Supreme Audit Office conducts annual external audits of every project funded/administered by the World Bank (IDA and ARTF-financed). ARTF-financed submits to the World Bank annual audit reports for the projects funded/administered by the World Bank (IDA and ARTF).
The Supreme Audit Office has adopted the International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions as its authoritative standards. Annual project audits express an opinion as to whether project financial statements were prepared in line with these standards and whether grant proceeds were used for purposes intended. Under agreed terms of reference, the audits also consider compliance with legal agreements, procurement and disbursement guidelines.
Annual audit reports should be submitted to the World Bank within 6 months after the end of the Afghan fiscal year (from 1391 onwards the end of the new fiscal year is December 20, meaning audit reports are due June 20 of the following calendar year). After the World Bank reviews the audit reports for quality assurance and discusses key findings with line ministries, a summary of the audit findings is presented to ARTF donors in an annual audit letter.
ARTF External Evaluations
Four independent evaluations of the ARTF have been carried out since the inception of the ARTF with the latest evaluation conducted in 2017.
Given the importance of the ARTF as a source of funding for the Government’s Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF) and National Priority Programs (NPPs), the review conducted in 2017, “Taking Charge: Government Ownership in a Complex Context”, aimed to assess how well the ARTF is a fit-for-purpose mechanism that can adapt to Government needs, purpose and priorities as presented in the ANPDF.
The main conclusion is that in a challenging and rapidly changing context, the ARTF remains a critical arena for joint analysis, discussion and decision; a mechanism for directive, prioritized collective action; a cost-efficient tool for channeling financial and technical support to the Government’s priorities; and an enduring commitment and partnership with Afghanistan’s future that allows and invites critical assessments of choices ahead. The review put forward a number of recommendations, some of which are already being implemented by the ARTF Administrator and partners.