Protecting The Children Of Zabul
A bustling bazaar that straddles a key national highway in southern Afghanistan is made safer for the community that lives around it
19 MAY 2013 | ZABUL, AFGHANISTAN
For years, the bustling Shar-e Safa bazaar, which straddles Afghanistan’s primary national highway in the Tarnak wa Jaldak district of Zabul province, was locally regarded as a deathtrap. It was important for local commerce but “our children were getting killed,” says Hikmat Hamoud, a policeman in Shar-e Safa village. “There was nothing separating the highway from the shops,” he explains, “sometimes, the children would run out into the road, or the trucks would drive too fast and too close to the bazaar.”
Local Afghan officials sought help and with USAID support, pedestrian safety and market access improved. More than 250 workers were hired from within the community to pave 3,500 square meters of pedestrian pathways and place 170 concrete bollards to serve as barriers between the highway and bazaar. They also repaired four culverts and dug drainage ditches between the bollards and the highway, thereby providing further protection for shoppers.
“Since the project, there have been no accidents,” says Hikmat, adding that “there is less dust and the bazaar is much cleaner.” Residents say the bazaar is even busier now that it is a safer place to shop.