Afghanistan

USAID Field Report Afghanistan Jan 2003

Source
Posted
Originally published
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. USAID/OTI's 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. In addition, USAID/OTI supports efforts to strengthen independent media.

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. USAID/OTI's budget for FY2002 was $30 million. USAID/OTI's estimated budget for FY2003 is $20 million.

Country Situation

Since President Karzai's was elected leader of Afghanistan's transitional government in June 2002, he has been criticized by Western and Afghan observers for not decisively challenging the authority of regional warlords. However, in December 2002, President Karzai issued a decree calling on the warlords to disarm by June 2003 and he promised to work within his administration to carry it out. In another effort to decrease the influence of the regional warlords, 29 provincial officials, who work under the direction of the warlords, were dismissed for corruption. Karzai also issued a decree that prohibits warlords from holding both political and military roles in the provinces.

In mid-January, the United Nations reported that approximately 500 light and heavy weapons had been collected in the latest disarmament operation in the Northern Province of Faryab. The operation was organized by a delegation from the multi-party security commission based in Ma-zar-I-Sharif.

In early January, Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs, Paula Dobriansky, announced $3.5 million in U.S. assistance for Afghan women. The assistance includes a $2.5 million contribution from USAID for the creation of Women's Resource Centers in 14 provinces, which will be managed by USAID/OTI.

Armed crime appears to be on the increase throughout the country, including Kabul where a robbery of the UNICEF office netted $260,000 in cash. In the provinces several aid workers were killed recently during car-jackings of their NGO and UN vehicles. There have also been explosions in and around UN and NGO compounds. Sporadic attacks continue on military installations throughout the country.

In late January, the head of the Afghan Supreme Court, Fazi Hadi Shinwari, ordered that satellite television service for Kabul be cut because the programs are against Islamic laws and values. Some days later he also declared co-education of girls and boys to be against Islam. Thus far, there has been no response from the Karzai administration.

Security Problems

The security situation in the Afghanistan provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, Heart, Faryab and Mazar has deteriorated in the last two months. In Kandahar City, numerous explosions have occurred in and around the city - including a mine incident that killed 18 passengers on a bus. A day earlier, an explosive device was thrown into the compound of an international NGO - with no injuries. And, outside the city, two children of a local commander were killed when they stepped on an explosive device that was planted outside his door. In Kandahar, meetings are being held with the UN Security Officer to review plans for possible evacuation.

In Helmand Province, the number of robberies in and around Lashkar Gah has dramatically increased although they do not seem to be directed at the international community. In separate incidents three people were killed recently in Herat Province including a local employee of an Italian NGO, a farmer, and a taxi-driver. In Faryab Province, the disarmament process launched in the north prompted a recent visit by General Dostum. There is speculation that Atta will also visit the province. In January in Mazar Province, there were several serious incidents including the theft of $180,000 from the office of an international NGO. The UNICEF warehouse was broken into (although nothing was stolen). If such incidents continue, the UN may suspend project monitoring and assessment in the region.

Civil - Military Coordination

The first three sites for the U.S. military Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) are Gardez, Bamyan and Kunduz provinces, all of which are operational. These first three sites will be used in the near future for "lessons learned" in the establishment of future PRTs. While the presence of U.S. Civil Affairs teams is nothing new in Afghanistan, the PRTs integrate the various U.S. military units in the field under one commander, and expand the reconstruction role of the U.S. Army.

The USAID/OTI Field Program Manager visited the PRTs in Gardez and Bamyan during January and held discussions with the new teams on improving the coordination between USAID and U.S. Military OHDACA (Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster, and Civic Aid) projects. Also during her visit, she conducted a workshop on the issues of community contribution and support, the involvement of the local authority structure, and project sustainability.

USAID/OTI has established a bi-monthly coordination meeting with U.S. Army Information Operations, which has a team assigned to the Embassy to promote USG assistance and reconstruction. There is a similar unit at each of the U.S. Army field locations. The information teams wish to work closely with USAID to inform the Afghan public about U.S. supported projects. They have also inquired about USAID interest in working with them to organize a radio-broadcast monitoring program to better assess the content of radio broadcasts around the country.

As of the end of January, the Civil Affairs teams in Bamyan had completed 16 projects: 11 schools and five bridges. A new team has 17 projects approved or submitted, totaling $585,000. These projects will include eight schools, an IDP stove distribution program, rebuilding a university, two health clinics, and the rehabilitation of the airfield.

OTI Highlights

A. Narrative Summary

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.

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

Kabul Province - Completion of Two Micro-Hydropower Plants in the Istalif Valley. These plants supply 300 families with sufficient power for two neon lights and one radio per family.

Kabul - Delivery Completed of Office Equipment to the Office of the State Minister for Women. This office serves an advisory role to the national government regarding women's issues.

Kabul - Latrines Completed for Kabul Polytechnique. This project was designed as a stop-gap measure for the Polytechnique until the entire plumbing system is rehabilitated.

Kabul - 1st Phase of Conflict Resolution Training for State Radio Journalists Completed. Fifty journalists were trained in the first of what is intended to be a series of workshops.

National - Codan HF Radio System Operational in Six Provinces. During the first three weeks of operation, the Ministry of Communication reported that it has processed nearly 1,000 messages between the provinces and Kabul.

Bamyan Province - Two Schools Completed. Work has been completed on the rehabilitation of a boys' school and a girls' school in Ruy-e-Sang Village, Khamard District. Seven hundred boys and 500 girls will attend these schools, taught by 47 teachers. The project provided temporary labor for 90 skilled and unskilled laborers.

Bamyan Province - Dam Repaired. This project rehabilitated a 17 meter high dam, which will now meet the irrigation needs of 1,750 families. Two hundred twenty seven workers were employed for a total of 15 days each.

Bamyan Province - Yakawlang and Shahidan Markets Brought Back to Life. The return of IDPs and refugees to Bamyan Province has had a significant impact. Two projects helped revitalize 800 shops/stalls in the two markets through the provision of building materials, and in the case of Shahidan Market, a small cash grant to participating merchants. The market associations provided all necessary labor. Approximately 110,000 residents and merchants of the province now have a place to carry out commercial activities.

Internews Continues to Work With State and Independent Media Outlets. A week-long training was held with the managers of the state radios. Topics included technical training on computers and digital radio production, scheduling, advertising, and audience feedback. During January, Internews also carried out a ten-day training for journalists from the local NGO AMRC and from the private Hindu Kush News Agency.

B. Program Impact Reports

The following are examples of USAID/OTI projects that are helping Afghans see their new government and the U.S. as positively contributing to their country's development. These projects are intended to demonstrate the value of peace and stability and build confidence in the country's long term development prospects.

USAID/OTI Encourages Farmers to Return to Their Land in Bamyan Province. Most of the fields in the Fatmasti Valley of Bamyan Province have not been cultivated for years after war and drought forced most of the people in the valley to flee to Iran. USAID/OTI provided a grant of $33,405 to build a 2,500 meter long stone masonry canal, which is now helping to bring families and green fields back to the valley. The project is benefiting over 600 families by providing water to irrigate an area that is commonly referred to as the "hunger belt". In addition, over 350 men earned a small salary helping to build the stone canal. During a visit in January, USAID/OTI 's Field Program Manager met an older man working who had returned recently and was now working his fields for the first time in years. Last spring he had sent two of his sons from Iran to Fatmasti to "find the truth with their own eyes", that the Taliban were really gone. He spoke proudly of how he and his sons helped build the canal and said, "...men would come every day to work and be happy to work because we are making our land better and we have a chance to begin again."

Electricity Arrives Once Again to Villages in the Istalif Valley. The NGO International Assistance Mission (IAM) has worked in Afghanistan for many years, including in the Istalif Valley. Prior to the Taliban, they worked with two villages to build micro hydropower plants with 12 kw capacity. These plants, which were powered by turbines through which irrigation water was channeled via community-constructed aqueducts, had been destroyed by the Taliban and the wiring and poles had been carried away. With a grant of $23,000 from USAID/OTI, the turbines and the small buildings to house them were rebuilt, along with the water channels. Families in the two communities purchased new poles and each house has now been rewired for two neon lights and an outlet to plug in a radio. Inside the turbine house, a large water heater provides hot water for bathing and washing clothes.

In late January, the electricity project was inaugurated with each of 300 families receiving a small radio to link them to the outside world. The night of the inauguration, all of the families in one of the villages gathered in the mosque to give thanks. An IOM-ATI Program Manager reported that it was dark when they stepped outside. Then, the sides of the steep valley shone with twinkling neon lights, and the houses at the top gave the illusion of being skyscrapers. From the looks on peoples' faces, it was clear that they felt they had much to be thankful for. This project is being replicated in six other villages through the transformation of abandoned watermills into micro-hydropower plants.

USAID Helps Mobilize Positive Change for Women's Rights in Uruzgan Province. Uruzgan Province is known as the second most conservative part of southern Afghanistan (after parts of Helmand Province). This is where the Taliban originated and their destroyed vehicles, bombed by the Coalition Forces, are strewn along the main road leading to Kandahar. The area remains conservative and very few women venture out into the streets, let alone work.

The removal of the Taliban from power has encouraged refugees to return to the area and they have brought with them somewhat less conservative ideas, particularly relating to the education of girls. During a January visit to Uruzgan, an IOM-ATI Program Manager met with local leaders during an informal loya jirga (traditional meeting). All of the local leadership expressed their willingness to have their girls educated, including the leading Mullah (religious leader) who read a passage from the Koran that made it clear that everyone, male and female, should be educated. With this, everyone agreed that the construction of a girls' school was a top priority. The community will construct the perimeter wall, provide floor mats, and uniforms for all the teachers. The Afghan government will donate the land and pay the teachers' salaries. USAID/OTI will assist with the reconstruction of the school. By late spring, girls in Uruzgan will have access to an education.

Maimana's Women's Association in Faryab Province Continues to Move Forward. USAID/OTI funding for the Maimana's Women's Association in Faryab Province ended some months ago after a $4,000 grant provided machinery and materials to support the women's association for restarting the production of carpets and traditional embroidered cloth. Currently, there are 20 women working full-time in the center, half of whom are widows - and the intention is to hire 15 more. The success of their products seemed to surprise the women as they proudly showed products that have been tailored to the local market. Because finances are still a constraint, most of the money being earned is being reinvested in raw materials. But according to their business plan, they should begin to show a profit in the near future.

Bamyan's Shahidan Market Comes Back to Life. The Shahidan Market, which sits in a valley in the west of Bamyan Province, was razed by the Taliban as they fled the region in late 2001. What remained were rows of burnt-out business stalls. At the request of the Bamyan Business Association, USAID/OTI approved a $36,000 grant which breathed new life into the bazaar through the provision of materials for and labor rebuilding of the market. In just a few months, blue doors mark each business stall and the debris has been cleared from the sidewalks and street. The president of the business association reports that 50 stalls have been opened in the last two months and he believes that more merchants will return once spring arrives.

One of the new businesses in the market is a small flour mill where, at the time of the OTI Program Manager's visit, people were standing in line to have their wheat ground, paying with a portion of the flour. The shop owner expressed pride in his small enterprise and thanked the United States "...for helping to finish the Taliban". He said, "I no longer have to keep my doors closed and the sun now shines in my shop." Other newly-opened shops were full of brightly-colored scarves, plastic boots, sweaters from Pakistan, and batteries from Iran. One elderly shopkeeper said in a quiet but powerful voice that he had a message to be taken back to America. "Those of us who had to run are coming back, and we see this new market you have helped us start and we feel hopeful. As long as America is with us, we will start our new lives."

Afghan State Radio Journalists Trained in Conflict Resolution. Some comments from the participants of the two, week-long workshops conducted in January:

"I had a conflict with a colleague for a long time that I didn't want to talk with. But during this workshop I was changed. I went to him and spoke with him. That's the effect of the peace-building workshop on me."

"The workshop has brought about a lot of changes in my attitude and manner. After this I will try to make a peaceful society in Afghanistan through my work in the media."

"After attending this workshop I have decided to try to build peace in every person's attitude, in the society, and my dear country. will prepare a program about peace that I can broadcast in Takhar Province. and from this workshop I learned that I should always be a force of peace in my society."

"By applying the subjects of this workshop, we plan to organize programs and dramas about peace that we will then broadcast to our audience. Only Afghans ourselves can bring peace in our country."

C. Constraints

A constraint to project implementation during this reporting period has been the cold winter, which has caused numerous projects to be put on hold until warmer weather returns. Field staff have used this time to work on final reports during which they verify final beneficiary numbers as well as assess project impact. They also have been working to develop grants which will begin implementation in the spring.

D. Grants Summary for USAID/OTI Afghanistan for January 2003

Program Category
Approved
Total
Community Infrastructure
5
$193,913
Good Governance / Transparency
6
$132,960
Media
4
$346,122
Total
15
$672,995

USAID/OTI signed the following small grants during the current reporting period, January 2003:

Subgrantee
Project
Beneficiaries
Ministry of Communication, Kabul Purchase of a cable-laying machine. 800 families will be connected to Afghanistan's landline system.
Ministry of Justice, Kabul. Kindergarten rehabilitation. 60 children, their mothers, and the 10 employees of the kindergarten.
Ministry of Information and Culture. Construction of guard house for main ministry building. Guards will be able to get out of the cold.
Ministry of Education, Kabul. Construction of kindergarten for Marium High School. 120 children, their mothers, and the managers of the day-care center.
Kabul University. Kindergarten rehabilitation. 150 children, their mothers, and the managers of the day-care center.
Sanayee Development Foundation Training of 50 state radio journalists in conflict-resolution to incorporate into their programming. All the listeners of state radio throughout the country.
DHSA Publication of special edition of "Kilid" magazine dedicated solely to the implementation of the Bonn Accord and progress to date. Those resident in the 18 provinces where 'Kilid' is sold.
Ministry of Martyrs and the Disabled Provision of equipment to facilitate carrying out a nation-wide survey of the disabled. Potentially, the estimated 1,000,000 disabled in Afghanistan who will benefit from programs designed as a result of the survey.
Residents of Kandahar City. Debris removal and hydraulic restoration of 5 kms of Kandahar City canals to prevent flooding. 450,000 residents of Kandahar City. 90 laborers for up to 3 months.
Villages in the Istalif Valley, Kabul. Provision of radios to families who participated / benefited from electrification of their villages. An estimated 2,400 families who will have access to news from within and outside Afghanistan.
Department of Water, Kandahar City. Construction of a 1,000 square meter reservoir in Kandahar City. 100,000 residents will directly benefit by access to potable water. 450,000 Kandahar City residents will benefit from more efficient use of water. 7 skilled laborers for 60 days and 20 unskilled laborers for 30 days.
Communities of Memlik and Labi Ab Villages, Samangan Province. Construction of Labi Ab Bridge in Feroz Nakhshir District. 2,400 families living in the two villages connected by the bridge. 4 skilled and 24 unskilled laborers for 30 days.
Community of Roy Doab District, Samangan Province. Construction of veterinary clinic in Roy Doab District. 45,000 residents of the area who will benefit from improved veterinary care for their livestock.
Channel Protection in Sorobi Town, Kabul Province. Protection / enhancement of 3 irrigation channels. 2,500 families will benefit from irrigation of 700-800 hectares. 350 men and women will benefit from temporary employment.
Internews Two month bridge funding for the set up of independent radio stations. Listeners within area of the new radio stations will hear independent voices on the radio.

NEXT STEPS/IMMEDIATE PRIORITIES

During the month of February, USAID/OTI will:

  • Work with the Judiciary Commission and the Supreme Court on the renovation of Kabul's primary law court.

  • Work with the Supreme Court to develop a project of computerizing Afghanistan's property documents.

  • Expand training on conflict-resolution / civic education.

  • Hire a Public Information Officer for the Office of President Karzai.

  • Move forward with the training of the newly-hired staff of the AACA Information Collection and Dissemination Unit.

  • Continue development of independent radio stations in Logar and Jalalabad.

  • Set up a resource center for the Human Rights Commission.
For more information, please contact:

In Washington, contact Karma Lively at 202-712-5755, Klively@usaid.gov or Chris O'Donnell at 202-712-0174, codonnell@usaid.gov.
In Afghanistan, contact Miguel Reabold, mreabold@usaid.gov.