Afghanistan: Ambassador Wood inaugurates new Badakhshan road, veterinary center

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Faizabad, Badakhshan Province - Sunday, October 26, 2008 - Ambassador William Wood, joined by Badakhshan Governor Monshi Majid and provincial and district officials, inaugurated a new 12-km road connecting Faizabad, the provincial capital, to the district center of Argo, during a trip to the province on Oct. 26.

"Opening a road has a special meaning. A road is a connection. A road is development, a road is health, a road is education, because it allows people to move," Ambassador Wood said during the ceremony. "So I am especially pleased to inaugurate this new road, which will cut the time to travel from Faizabad to Argo from two hours to 30 minutes."

Later in the day, Ambassador Wood and the Governor inaugurated a new Provincial Veterinary Center in Faizabad. The facility will be a resource not only for Badakhshan's more than 500,000 sheep, goats and cattle, but also for the more than one million additional livestock from neighboring provinces that graze in the province's rich pastureland each year. The center boasts a lab to process blood samples, examination rooms, quarantine space for investigating disease, and a cold storage center for storing vaccines.

During his day-long visit, the Ambassador noted that since 2002, the U.S. has donated more than $75 million in assistance to Badakhshan, including $40 million in 2007. This aid has come in the form of planting commercial orchards for almonds and apricots in four districts; building 18 veterinary field units; assisting the start-up of 100 new small- and medium-sized businesses with $2 million in microloans; building 12 new police headquarters buildings; donating one million textbooks to school children; building or refurbishing 51 health facilities; and building or refurbishing 13 roads, as well as beginning construction on the Keshem to Faizabad Road, which is slated for completion in Dec. 2009.

Ambassador Wood explained that so much aid has gone to Badakhshan for three reason. First, he said, Badakhshan has received additional aid because of the "heroic" efforts of the government and people to eliminate poppy cultivation in their province. Second, Badakhshan boasts better security than many areas of the country, so development can move forward. And finally, the Ambassador noted the "special personality" of the people, who are "such good friends and good partners," he said. "The U.S. is happy to work with the people of Faizabad, and Badakhshan, in every area."