USAID Field Report Afghanistan Dec 2002

United States Agency for International Development
Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance
Office of Transition Initiatives
Program Description

USAID/OTI's program goal is to support the process of recovery, rehabilitation and political development in post-conflict Afghanistan. Working with a number of local and international partners, USAID/OTI's program is building citizen confidence in the progress of political development, empowering citizens to address basic community needs, and building an alliance between legitimate government structures and citizens. In addition, USAID/OTI supports efforts to strengthen independent media. USAID/OTI's estimated budget for FY2002 was $30,369,476. USAID/OTI's current planned budget for FY2003 is $20,000,000.

Country Situation

The Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan (TISA) announced that the Constitutional Loya Jirga will be moved from December to October 2003 due to Ramadan in November and cold weather in December. The Constitutional Drafting Committee will present the first draft to President Karzai and King Mohammad Zaher in February or March.

December marked the one-year anniversary of the signing of the Bonn Agreement. At a ceremony in Germany to celebrate the agreement, UNAMA head, Lakhdar Brahimi, said that the agreement had been "a hopeful yet uncertain beginning," with many challenges ahead.

In late December, the Kabul Declaration of Good Neighborly Relations was signed by President Karzai and the governments of China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. This was an important move forward in consolidating the Afghan peace process as the bordering countries agreed to a policy of non-interference in Afghanistan's internal affairs.

Car jacking and armed-robbery remained problems throughout much of the country during December. Also in December, Gulbaddin Hekmatyar publicly declared that he is heightening his jihad against coalition forces and peacekeepers in Afghanistan. Sporadic attacks continue on US military compounds throughout the country.

OTI Highlights

A. Narrative Summary

USAID/OTI's goals are to promote political stability and economic recovery in Afghanistan. Projects strengthen economic recovery by providing essential goods and services that individuals and the market cannot provide on their own. These include improving essential commercial and public infrastructure, reestablishing the relationships and routines that give communities cohesiveness, contributing to sustainable stability and recovery by establishing links between the community and governmental authorities, and establishing links between the provinces and Kabul.

USAID/OTI's overall program strategy is to build government capacity through the process of planning and implementing projects that are guided by community priorities, and by creating and/or strengthening linkages among the national, provincial, and district governments. USAID/OTI is also improving the communication infrastructure and implementing a comprehensive media strategy.

USAID/OTI's main implementing partners in Afghanistan are the International Organization for Migration - Afghanistan Transition Initiative (IOM-ATI), Ronco (a U.S. contractor), and Internews. Through IOM-ATI, USAID/OTI funds projects in 31 provinces.

Highlights of USAID/OTI's Afghanistan program during the month of December:

Inaugurations in Kabul held for completion of the reconstruction of the Freedom Printing House, and the rehabilitation of the main buildings of the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, and the Ministry of Information and Culture.

As part of a larger grant to the Ministry of Communications, Codan communication devices (email, phone, and radio) were installed in Paktya and Khost Provinces. This is part of a nation-wide project that will establish regular electronic and phone linkages between all the provinces and Kabul for the first time.

Logar Province - Completion of construction of a school in the Kolangar district, benefiting 200 girls and women.

Bamiyan Province - Completion of construction of 2 primary schools in Kahmard District. The schools will serve 1,200 students (700 males / 500 females). 49 teachers will be employed. 90 skilled and unskilled laborers were employed for over 2 months.

Bamiyan Province - Completion of rehabilitation of Qarawana Dam in Saighan District. This 17-meter dam serves 1,750 families. 227 workers were hired for 15 days each during the dam's rehabilitation.

Farayab Province - Completion of rehabilitation of municipal building. This 16-room office will serve as the provincial headquarters for the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development. Twelve workers were employed for 360 person-days.

Kabul - Ministry of Education staff trained in needs assessment and project planning, two priorities identified by the minister. 46 key staff were trained during a series of 4 one-week trainings.

Kabul - Electricity has been restored to Kabul Polytechnic Institute, benefiting 2,500 students. However, wiring was not considered satisfactory by the Institute. As a result, the contractor will provide a list of work remaining and revised completion date.

Kabul - Completion of the removal of rubble from the Darulaman area of Kabul city is now complete. Approximately 425 former combatants were employed on the project which aimed to demolish public buildings and remove and recycle the rubble.

Herat - Completion of grant to support war widows through handicraft training. Efforts are currently underway with carpet vendors to encourage the employment of women who graduated from the course.

Public Affairs Support to the Mission. USAID/OTI staff continued to disseminate information to the public about new projects funded by USAID (including USAID/OTI, OFDA, and Mission projects).

B. Program Impact Reports

(1) USAID/OTI Supports Construction of key Ministry Buildings in Afghanistan. Construction of four buildings for the Ministry of Reconstruction and Rural Development (MRRD) in Bamyan, Ghor, Uruzgan and Khost provinces will begin soon. The MRRD is the lead agency for the TISA (Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan) in its efforts to coordinate development programs in rural areas, but needs to strengthen its provincial infrastructure - both in terms of physical and human resources - in order to fully achieve its mandate. Currently, the MRRD has no, or inadequate, office facilities in most provinces. Following an assessment, USAID partner IOM, along with UNICEF and UNDP will construct two-story, 16-room offices based on plans drawn up by the Ministry.

(2) Community Participation is an Important Component of USAID/OTI's Infrastructure Projects. In Herat Province, the community of Zindajan are core partners in the rehabilitation of the Zindajan Irrigation Canal. Recent years of drought, combined with the chaotic Taliban years, left the canal filled with sand. After the fall of the Taliban, 3,000 men worked to clear the canal. They are now working again, this time with USAID support, to build 8 spillways to control the water during the rainy season, and facilitate cleaning during the times of less water flow. "When we see that people from another country are trying to help us, we believe that we have to participate as well," said Mr. Haji Latif, a member of the local shura (traditional community religious leader's group), which has helped organize the community to provide all the necessary labor which is estimated to be worth at least $7,000.

(3) USAID/OTI Project Impacts on Community Empowerment. During a USAID monitoring trip to visit the construction of the Pier Nakhshir Canal in Samangan Province, the community requested a meeting with the monitoring team. The team noticed that the assembled community leaders showed more interest than usual in the project and that they participated actively in the discussion. They worked together to prioritize projects, expressing the realization that now was the time for change in their community. The district has long had problems with local commanders fighting among themselves, resulting in civilian deaths. Recently, the community met with the governor of Samangan and UN representatives and agreed to move the commanders away from the region and disarm the combatants. Most importantly, they instated a new mayor, bringing an important central government link to the region.

(4) Future Teachers of Kunduz Province. Ajmal is a 20 year old currently studying at the USAID/OTI-rehabilitated Teacher Training Institute to become an English teacher. One day he hopes to study law. During the civil war, Ajmal, the youngest of his family, grew up watching his family gradually sell their property and other productive assets and become progressively poor. Once Ajmal dreamed of leaving Afghanistan and settling in a country where there was peace and the prospect for work. Now Ajmal says that his dreams have changed and that he sees opportunities in Afghanistan. The reopening of the Kunduz Teachers Institute has given him the opportunity to gain the tools necessary to work towards a better future.

(5) A Town in Eastern Kabul Province Comes Around. Sorobi is a small, dusty town infamous for car thefts along the road from Kabul to Jalalabad. Long ago, the community hand-dug three channels on a flood plain that carried water from a stream to an irrigation canal for watering crops downstream. Several times a year, water from rain or melting snow rushed across the plains, destroying the channels and requiring that farmers waste valuable time each year redigging them. The community prioritized a permanent solution to this problem as something they needed assistance with. When USAID partner Medair proposed lining the channels with gabion cages, they also solicited community input in the form of labor. A murmur rose from the crowd, and one old man yelled that all this money was coming in from the international community and he hadn't seen any of it. "I don't even have a pair of proper shoes," he shouted, holding up an old sneaker with a split sole. The community was informed that if they were not willing to participate in their own development, that USAID would work in another community. When Medair returned to hear their decision, the community had agreed to provide the labor. They also agreed to allow 40 women to share in the opportunity to learn a new skill and earn a wage by constructing the gabion cages.

(6) Bridge in Bamiyan Results from Close Collaboration with Local Authorities. Two communities in Saigan District have lived with the problem of a dilapidated and dangerous bridge separating them. Most recently, a truck transporting goods fell off the bridge, killing the driver and blocking foot traffic for a week. The reconstructed bridge now provides safe and permanent passage across the river. This project is testament to USAID's ability to support and mentor local authorities as they endeavor to provide services to the local community.

C. Grants Activity Summary for USAID/OTI Programming in Afghanistan for the month of December, 2002

Program Category
Community Infrastructure
Good Governance / Transparency

USAID/OTI signed the following 13 small grants during the current reporting period, December 2002:

Community of Qalat, Zabul Cleaning of a Karez and reconstruction of latrines and washing area for Qalat Town Center. 5,000 residents of Qalat town as well as additional travelers to the area. 40 people will benefit from working on the project.
Community of Faryab Province. Rehabilitation of Dawlatabad Bridge. 800,000 residents of Faryab province, as well as 44 laborers working on the project.
Judicial Commission. Kabul. Provision of office equipment, furniture, and internet access to assist in the Commission's start up. The people of Afghanistan.
Community of Zindajan, Herat Improvement of the Zindajan irrigation canal through the construction of 8 spillways. 20,000 households will benefit from this project. The community will provide free labor.
Community of the villages in the Karbazan area, Herat Reconstruction of the Karbazan Bridge which connects the communities to Herat City. At the same time, the Karobar Canal will be straightened to serve as flood control. The bridge is used by 25,000 people. 500 vehicles use the bridge on a daily basis. The community will provide 50% of the labor.
Ministry of Planning, Kabul. Rehabilitation of the Ministry's kindergarten. 100 children will benefit, and their mothers, particularly widows who will be able to work at the ministry.
Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, Khost Construction of provincial MRRD office 350,000 rural residents of Khost, as well as 3 skilled and 50 unskilled laborers for a period of 4 months.
Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, Bamiyan. Construction of provincial MRRD office. 350,000 rural residents of Bamyan, as well as 44 laborers who will receive wages for working on the project.
Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, Ghor. Construction of provincial MRRD office. 500,000 rural residents of Ghor, as well as 55 laborers who will receive wages for working on the project for 4 months.
Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, Uruzugan. Construction of provincial MRRD office. 650,000 rural residents of Ghor, as well as 55 laborers who will receive wages for working on the project for 4 months.
Qual-e-Patak village community, Paktiya. Construction of a reservoir and pipe system for irrigation and drinking water in Gardez. 488 residents will have access to water, and 25 laborers will benefit from working on the project for 52 days.
Skander-Khel community, Paktiya. Construction of 8 classrooms, latrines and administrative and storage rooms for Bi Bi Mariam Primary Girls' school. 220 female students, 5 teachers, 3 admin staff, and 40 laborers working on the project for 78 days.
Hasham-Khel Village, Paktiya. Construction of Roqyan Secondary School. 800 male and 120 female students, 10 teachers, 4 support staff, and 38 laborers working on the project for 140 days.
Kabul Polytechnique Institute Renovation of latrines at the university dormitories. Students of the university.
Sanayee Development Foundation Peace Building Training for 50 journalists from 15 provinces 50 journalists from state radio stations in 15 provinces


During the month of January, USAID/OTI will:

  • Continue installation of the codan communication devices in collaboration with the Ministry of Communication who will be responsible for their operation and maintenance. The Ministry will take over responsibility for installation in the remaining provinces in February. The Minister's plan is to have all in place by the end of February.

  • Continue to support the Judicial Commission, the Constitutional Drafting Committee, and the Human Rights Commission as their work proceeds.

  • Continue working with media organizations to move forward with civic education activities.

  • Finalize a new grant with Internews which will be focused on establishing independent radio stations throughout the country, programming, and legal advocacy.

  • Support the Ministry of Martyrs and the Disabled to better assist their target population.

  • Continue working with the UN in the setup of a data-collection and dissemination unit which will be used by the Afghan government to professionally publicize the progress that is being made in all sectors.

For more information, please contact:

In Washington, contact Karma Lively at 202-712-5755, or Chris O'Donnell at 202-712-0174,
In Afghanistan, contact Miguel Reabold,