Afghanistan

Afghanistan: Infrastructure projects top priority in isolated areas

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By Homayon Khoram

Some 6000 isolated Afghan villagers will no longer be cut off thanks to a new bridge being constructed in a remote village in north eastern Afghanistan.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in cooperation with the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) has funded the construction of the new bridge.

Around 1200 families live in Zangar, a village located at the foot of high rising mountains in the Farkhar district of Takhar province. It is a mountainous and cold area where snow never melts on the peaks of the mountains.

The village is cut off by the Farkhar River and the only way for villagers to access the rest of the province is by a primitive wooden bridge that has been constructed by the villagers themselves; but that is washed away every year by seasonal floods.

"A bridge is our village's top priority. We are tired of constructing the bridge every year to see it washed away again by floods," said Maulavi Ghulam Nabi a village elder.

The bridge is being constructed under the National Area Based Development Programme (NABDP), a UNDP-MRRD project.

"We implement small scale infrastructure projects such as bridges, irrigation canals, health clinics and schools," said NABDP Programme Manager Jamie Graves.

"We have numerous projects for the north eastern region. There are around a dozen NABDP projects that will be implemented in Badakhshan next year," added Jamie Graves.

Schools, irrigation canals, wells, bridges and protection walls are among NABDP projects completed in Afghanistan's north eastern provinces of Badakhshan, Takhar, Kunduz and Baghlan.

There are a number of on-going NABDP projects in Baharak, Namak Aab, Chah Aab and Farkhar districts of Takhar province. A school is being built in Bajga village in Baghlan and will be completed in the near future.

"I would like to encourage people to express their preferences through the district development assemblies so we can identify where the needs are," concluded Jamie Graves.

The total budget for NABDP projects from February 2006 to January 2009 is US$ 164 million.