Rebuilding Afghanistan: Weekly activity update 03 - 09 Jul 2005

Civic Education and Elections

During the last two weeks in June, USAID-funded civic educators held 1,589 training sessions in the central region of Afghanistan, reaching 52,176 voters, of whom 18,726 were women. Since May 1, 2005, a total of 222,550 citizens have attended civic education sessions.

Election administration trainers held three five-day training programs for the newly appointed Provincial Electoral Commissions (PEC). This concluded the initial PEC training, resulting in 128 trained Electoral Commissions. Plans are currently underway for a two-day follow on training to deal with issues that these individuals will confront during their first month of work.

USAID representatives continue to travel throughout their regions of responsibility, developing district-level Coalition committees that will serve as future points of contact for voter registration and campaigning efforts. To date, nearly every district in the provinces of Kunar, Nuristan, Laghman, Kapisa, Parwan, Wardak, Baghlan, Kunduz, and Takhar have been reached.

Economic Restructuring and Privatization

Through its economic restructuring program, USAID is working with the Government of Afghanistan to privatize its state-owned enterprises (SOE). Valuation teams are making progress in this effort by evaluating and surveying existing SOE facilities, processes, and land. The results of the evaluation and surveys allow for greater transparency of SOEs' finances and operations as they go on the market for sale as private enterprises.

As part of the Valuation Team, accounting experts recently visited nine SOEs to collect and review their financial data. Engineering surveys have been completed on eight SOEs. Over the next two weeks, engineers will begin surveying provincial SOE facilities and land.

Four Valuation Reports have been completed and delivered this reporting period: Exports & Plants Enterprise, Afghan Advertising Enterprise, Jangalak Enterprise and Wool Weaving Enterprise, which brings the total Valuation Reports completed to 9 (or 16 % of the reports that are scheduled to be completed by the end of August). Five reports are expected to be delivered during the next reporting period.

Another important step in SOE privatization is passing legislation that will ensure ease and legitimacy of this process. USAID Economic Governance staff met this past week with the World Bank and Afghanistan's Deputy Minister of Finance to discuss progress in this legislation.

Quick Impact Program

Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) are joint civil-military units deployed throughout most of Afghanistan. An interim mechanism, their goal is to strengthen the reach and enhance the legitimacy of the central government in outlying regions through improved security and the facilitation of reconstruction and development efforts. With a few exceptions, USAID has or will deploy a Field Development Officer (FDO) to each of the 20 current PRTs. The FDO’s role is to support the PRT and to act as USAID’s representative.

The Quick Impact Program (QIP) is USAID’s funding mechanism that allows FDOs to undertake specific development projects in their provinces. FDOs select appropriate projects and activities in consultation with the military at the PRTs and with local leadership. The primary purposes of QIP projects are to extend the reach and influence of government throughout the provinces and to create a climate of improved freedom and economic activity. Projects implemented through QIP include tertiary roads, bridges, water supply, irrigation, government administrative buildings, schools, clinics, micro-power generation and gender training courses. Starting in FY03, QIP has received total funding of $137.3 million, including $75 million from the FY05 supplemental budget. As of June 2005, 116 projects have been completed, 106 are under construction, and 126 are under planning and design. It is expected that over 600 projects will be completed by the end of FY06.

Security Incidents

Number of Hostile Attacks: During this reporting period, July 5 - 11, there were five hostile attacks resulting in no deaths and three injuries. Five persons were kidnapped and immediately released.

USAID Related: During this reporting period, none of the attacks directly affected USAID related projects and/or staff.

Last Attacks: During this reporting period (July 5 - 11) there was a continued increase in election-associated acts of intimidation and violence. In Tirin Kot (Uruzgan Province) the driver for a Civic Educator was severely beaten by the Taliban. In Khas Uruzgan, the Voter Registration Site (VRS) was attacked with small arms & RPG rockets. In Nuristan Province, a candidate for the Provincial Council and his cousin were attacked by two individuals armed with axes and knives. In the Khost Central Mosque VRS an intruder was discovered attempting to plant 2 anti-personnel pressure mines, and a group of sixteen insurgents attacked the Kuchi Registration Site in Babrak Tana Village. There have been a total of 26 election related incidents since June 21, 2005.