Afghanistan Shows Progress on Economic, Governance Fronts

KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 12, 2010 — Sev­er­al achieve­ments in Sep­tem­ber demon­strate Afghanistan’s progress in eco­nom­ic and gov­er­nance devel­op­ment, accord­ing to a NATO Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Force news release.

ISAF offi­cials issued the fol­low­ing as exam­ples of progress from each region that they said reflects the long-term com­mit­ment of the Afghan gov­ern­ment and its inter­na­tion­al part­ners to cre­ate secu­ri­ty, sta­bil­i­ty and oppor­tu­ni­ty for all Afghans. They also demon­strate the con­tin­u­ing suc­cess of part­nered Afghan-coali­tion secu­ri­ty oper­a­tions to pro­tect the peo­ple from the insur­gency, they said.

In the South­west:

— About 1,000 Afghan farm­ers and vil­lage elders declared an end to drug pro­duc­tion in north­ern Mar­jah dur­ing an anti-drug sum­mit in ear­ly Sep­tem­ber. The farm­ers agreed to stop grow­ing illic­it plants like opi­um.

— Just five months ago Mar­jah did not have a for­mal­ly-trained police force. Today Mar­jah has a police sta­tion and about 300 ful­ly trained police offi­cers to patrol the area. The facil­i­ty also serves as a police recruit­ing sta­tion to hire local res­i­dents. The steady increase in secu­ri­ty and local police hires con­tributes to dis­trict gov­ern­ment sta­bil­i­ty, and is help­ing eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment.

— Marjah’s local gov­ern­ment helped open four new schools in time for the new school year. Among the four, Mar­jah High School opened its doors for the first time in more than six years, with about 150 boys and girls reg­is­ter­ing on the first day.

— A mar­ket­place that was closed for more than five years reopened in Mar­jah on Sept. 11. In the Musa Qal’ah Dis­trict of Hel­mand province the bazaar has grown from about 200 shops in March to more than 500 today, pro­vid­ing shop own­ers through­out the Hel­mand Riv­er Val­ley venues to sell goods and stim­u­late local eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment.

In the South:

— Afghan offi­cials and inter­na­tion­al part­ners are work­ing to improve the sup­ply of elec­tric­i­ty to Kan­da­har City. The first of two 10-megawatt pow­er plants is sched­uled to be oper­a­tional by Decem­ber, and is expect­ed to pro­vide pow­er to up to 15,000 homes. Provin­cial offi­cials intend to use the pow­er to expand essen­tial ser­vices and cre­ate jobs. The Kan­da­har provin­cial gov­er­nor is plan­ning a busi­ness expo lat­er this year to attract com­mer­cial ven­tures.

In the North:

— In the com­mer­cial hub of Mazar‑E Sharif, Afghan offi­cials and inter­na­tion­al part­ners are engaged in sev­er­al major infra­struc­ture projects such as road con­struc­tion, the North-East Pow­er-Sys­tem, Hos­pi­tal Mazar-e-Sharif, Balkh Uni­ver­si­ty com­plex, and water util­i­ty improve­ment pro­gram.

— The Min­istry of Trans­porta­tion and Avi­a­tion plans to reha­bil­i­tate 30 air­ports through­out the coun­try. This project includes the con­struc­tion of two new air­ports in Badakhshan and Faryab provinces. The new projects are intend­ed to boost traf­fic and bol­ster the econ­o­my in the provinces.

— A $170 mil­lion project to con­struct a 75-kilo­me­ter rail­road line between Hairatan and Mazar-e-Sharif near the Uzbek­istan bor­der is com­plete. Work­ers are sched­uled to fin­ish installing an addi­tion­al 25 kilo­me­ters of rail line for side and switch­ing yards in Novem­ber. The project, under the super­vi­sion of the Min­istry of Pub­lic Works, will have a sig­nif­i­cant eco­nom­ic impact as almost half of Afghanistan’s imports pass through Hairatan.

— The Min­istry of Mines recent­ly opened four new petro­le­um wells in the Angot area of Sar‑E Pul province. The wells are expect­ed to yield about 800 bar­rels of crude oil dai­ly. In the East:

— Work is near­ly com­plete on a new 100-bed hos­pi­tal in Khost City that will dou­ble patient capac­i­ty over the exist­ing facil­i­ty, improve the qual­i­ty of and access to health care for the province’s 1 mil­lion res­i­dents, and cre­ate jobs in the province. The hos­pi­tal will include an emer­gency room, male, female and children’s wards, mid­wife and mater­ni­ty wards, x‑ray and oncol­o­gy depart­ments. The Afghan Min­istry of Health will staff the hos­pi­tal. Offi­cials plan to open the facil­i­ty lat­er this fall.

— Afghan women in Jalal­abad are reha­bil­i­tat­ing a nurs­ing hos­tel and per­form­ing tra­di­tion­al­ly male tasks like paint­ing, plas­ter­ing and elec­tri­cal work. The pro­gram is geared toward train­ing and employ­ing war wid­ows and women with dis­abled hus­bands.

— Also in Jalal­abad, work is begin­ning on a new 1,200-student Tech­ni­cal and Pro­fes­sion­al Learn­ing Insti­tute. The Edu­ca­tion Min­istry is fund­ing the project, which will pro­vide stu­dents with tech­ni­cal and voca­tion­al train­ing, an impor­tant foun­da­tion for eco­nom­ic growth in the region.

— In Pak­ti­ka province, about 60 stu­dents are enrolled in the Sha­rana Voca­tion­al and Agri­cul­ture Center’s two-month class to learn chick­en and egg pro­duc­tion. Six­ty farm­ers also are enrolled in a train­ing pro­gram in War­dak to learn how to increase fruit orchard yields. These Afghan-led pro­grams are designed to improve agri­cul­ture prac­tices and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty in the provinces.

In the West:

— Thir­ty-five Afghan farm­ers gath­ered Sept. 14 at the Her­at Seed Cen­ter to receive sev­en tons of saf­fron bulbs and fer­til­iz­er donat­ed by the Ital­ian Provin­cial Recon­struc­tion Team. Each farmer received 440 pounds of saf­fron bulbs, which could cov­er about 3,000 square meters. Saf­fron is drought resis­tant and a high-dol­lar val­ue crop, mak­ing it a good alter­na­tive to pop­py cul­ti­va­tion. Six­ty tons of saf­fron bulbs are planned for dis­tri­b­u­tion across Afghanistan.

— In Her­at, work is almost com­plete on a $650,000 women’s social cen­ter. The facil­i­ty, planned in coor­di­na­tion with Herat’s Depart­ment of Women’s Affairs, will offer a more secure women’s train­ing facil­i­ty and meet­ing place.

— Farah province Gov. Rahool Amin vis­it­ed Pur Chaman, the province’s most-remote dis­trict, to meet with local and dis­trict offi­cials. He addressed sev­er­al hun­dred res­i­dents and unveiled six pro­posed devel­op­ment projects, includ­ing a micro-hydro plant to devel­op elec­tri­fi­ca­tion, a bee-keep­ing facil­i­ty to expand the district’s hon­ey pro­duc­tion, solar street lights, a boy’s school, expan­sion of a health clin­ic, and a secu­ri­ty wall around a girl’s school.

In the Cap­i­tal region:

— Afghan provin­cial and dis­trict lead­ers for­mal­ly opened a bridge in Farza dis­trict Sept. 25. The $170,000 project began in Feb­ru­ary at the request of Shah Nasir vil­lage res­i­dents. A small riv­er divides the vil­lage, and dur­ing spring thaws the high­er water lev­el had cut off vil­lage res­i­dents from vital ser­vices.

Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces Devel­op­ment:

— Twen­ty-nine Afghan women grad­u­at­ed Sept. 23 from the Afghan army’s offi­cer can­di­date school at the Kab­ul Mil­i­tary Train­ing Cen­ter. Today there are near­ly 300 women in the Afghan army. These new­ly com­mis­sioned sec­ond lieu­tenants com­prised the first group of women to grad­u­ate from the offi­cer train­ing pro­gram. Dur­ing the 20-week officer’s course, the can­di­dates learned basic mil­i­tary skills and were trained to become finance or logis­tics offi­cers. Recruit­ing is under­way for the next class to begin in Novem­ber.

— An Afghan army com­pa­ny of about 100 sol­diers depart­ed Afghanistan Sept. 17 for Turkey to par­tic­i­pate in Turkey’s com­man­do basic train­ing course. The month-long train­ing pro­gram is through a joint part­ner­ship between Afghan and Turk­ish defense forces. The course pro­vides Afghan secu­ri­ty forces with advanced train­ing in spe­cial oper­a­tions, urban war­fare tac­tics, marks­man­ship and oth­er com­bat tac­tics, increas­ing sol­diers’ secu­ri­ty oper­a­tions skills.

— The third group of Afghan army mil­i­tary police grad­u­at­ed Sept. 23 from the Deten­tion Oper­a­tions Train­ing Cen­ter in Par­wan. The 189 sol­diers com­plet­ed two weeks of lan­guage and eight weeks of deten­tion oper­a­tions train­ing pri­or to assum­ing guard oper­a­tions at the Par­wan deten­tion facil­i­ty. More than 700 Afghan mil­i­tary police are cur­rent­ly train­ing to aug­ment the guard force. More than 100 Afghan guards are ful­ly trained and stand­ing guard duty with their Amer­i­can coun­ter­parts.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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