KUNDUZ CITY/KABUL/TALOQAN (PAN): A dozen bridges, facilitating the transportation of goods to Dasht-i-Archi district of the Kunduz province, were inaugurated. Ajmal Paiman, spokesman for the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitations and Development (MRRD), told Pajhwok Afghan News the bridges linked a number of small villages with the district headquarters. He revealed the project - costing around 14 million afghanis provided from the MRRD budget - was implemented under the National Solidarity Programme (NSP). At least 10 per cent of the cost was met by residents. Also on Sunday, work began on a health centre being constructed over one acre of land in the same town. With 10 per cent of the input coming from the local community, the spokesman explained, the health facility was being executed under the NSP. Engineer Ahmad Niaro, director of the Rural Rehabilitation and Development Department in the northern province, recalled 220 bridges were built and 300 wells dug up last year in Dasht-i-Archi at the cost of more than 55 million afghanis. According to MRRD officials, over 19,900 uplift projects have been completed in 17,200 villages across the country at the cost of $244 million since 2003. More than 14 million people are beneficiaries of the development schemes. In the capital Kabul, a neonatal centre as well as a female waiting hall were inaugurated at Istiqlal Hospital. Premature and low-weight neonates with respiratory complications would be treated at the centre, doctors said. Muhammad Ali Ishan, administrative head of the hospital, told an inaugural ceremony the centre was set up with financial assistance of $20,000 from Italy. He estimated most of the 10 per cent babies born prematurely in Kabul died for lack of facilities. Ishan added a waiting hall had also been established for females at the hospital, which previously did not have a proper place for visitors and attendants. At least 12 supportive walls would be constructed over the next eight months along Kukcha River in the northern Takhar province. The spurs measuring seven kilometres will protect approximately 3,500 acres of farmland and 200 dwellings from seasonal flooding. GTZ has provided seven million afghanis for the protective wall project, a longstanding demand of the locals. Daniel Pea Son, GTZ head for Kunduz, said his agency would implement several other uplift plans in the province during the current year.
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