Afghanistan

USAID Field Report Afghanistan Jun 2005

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Program Description

Since program startup in 2001, USAID/OTI has increased citizen awareness of and confidence in the process of recovery, rehabilitation and democratic political development in post-conflict Afghanistan. These aims have been accomplished by:

- Increasing the Afghan government's responsiveness to citizens' needs.

- Increasing citizen awareness of and participation in democratic processes.

- Increasing the capacity of the Afghan media.

The Office of Transition Initiatives' rapid support for activities in Afghanistan's transition period have helped establish credibility and space for longer-term development assistance. Working with central and provincial governments, national and international nongovernmental organizations, informal community groups and media outlets, OTI has identified and supported critical initiatives that facilitate implementation of the Bonn Agreement, which was designed to move the country further along the continuum from war to peace.

The OTI/Afghanistan program started in October 2001 and closed in June 2005. OTI has been working closely with implementing partners and technical staff from OTI/Washington to ensure an effective close-out and handover of key activities and functions to the USAID Mission, other donors, and/or local partners. OTI/Afghanistan's funds have come from various sources, including Transition Initiative Funds, International Disaster Assistance Funds, Development Assistance Funds, and State Department Economic Support Funds. Projects are funded in 34 provinces of the country. OTI's current implementing partners are the International Organization for Migration-Afghanistan Transition Initiative (IOM-ATI) and Internews. IOM-ATI offices are located in Kabul, Bamyan, Gardez, Herat, Kandahar, Kunduz, Maimana and Mazar. Previous USAID/OTI partners included the Voice of America, the United Nations Development Program and Ronco.

Country Situation

Violence in June - The situation across the country remained tense during June, with heightened levels of U.S. and Afghan military operations against insurgents, particularly in the south and southeast of the country. The border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan remains volatile and is expected to continue in this way up to and through the current election period.

CARE worker released from captivity - Clementina Cantoni, a CARE International employee, was released unharmed and returned to Italy after several weeks of captivity. She was abducted from her vehicle in the capital, Kabul, as she was on her way home. Several people have been arrested in conjunction with the kidnapping.

U.S. military tragedy - On June 28, four Navy SEALs went missing in the eastern province of Kunar during an operation. A Chinook helicopter that was sent in response to a call for help from the commandos was subsequently shot down, killing all 16 aboard. The downing of the helicopter led to a U.S. bombing raid in the province to try to root out the insurgents. The raid reportedly left 17 civilians dead.

U.S. and coalition military operations - Throughout the month, U.S. and coalition forces were joined by Afghan forces in operations against the Taliban and other insurgents. In one operation in which fighting lasted for more than 12 hours, more than 60 insurgents were killed and at least 30 captured. This operation followed nearly three months of increased violence in the south and southeast, a trend that analysts expect to continue through the parliamentary elections scheduled for September.

Incidents by anti-government elements - Internationals and Afghans who work for international organizations or with the government continued to come under attack. Several improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and suicide bombers have been intercepted in the reporting period. There was also a failed plot to assassinate the U.S. ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, as he was inaugurating a project in Laghman Province. Increasing numbers of IEDs have been used to kill Afghan police, including the police chief of Kunar and those who were traveling with him when his car was attacked. Nongovernmental organization workers in Ghazni and Uruzgan Provinces were shot and killed by unknown assailants, and an election worker's jeep was ambushed in Kandahar Province, killing the worker. International organizations and diplomatic missions continue to restrict staff movements.

U.S. ambassador departs - Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad left Afghanistan after being confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the next U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Ambassador Khalilzad spent more than a week on his farewell tour of Afghanistan, meeting with the president and senior-level government officials and opening U.S.-funded reconstruction projects before departing his post. Ambassador Maureen Quinn has assumed responsibilities of charge d'affairs until newly confirmed Ambassador Ronald Neumann arrives in mid-August.

Flooding continues to pose problems - Severe flooding has affected several parts of the country, causing destruction and deaths in Bamyan, Kunduz, Takhar and Badakshan Provinces. Emergency food delivery had to be arranged in severely affected areas of those provinces.

Highlights

A. Narrative Summary

OTI-funded Women's Resource Centers - The OTI country representative and the OTI country program manager participated in the official opening ceremony of the Parwan Provincial Women's Resource Center in Charikar, Parwan Province, one hour north of Kabul city. The OTI country representative joined the minister of women's affairs, Massouda Jalal, and the governor of Parwan for the ribbon-cutting. There was extensive media coverage for the opening. The Parwan women's center is one of 14 OTI-supported women's centers in Afghanistan. At least three other centers are nearing completion and will be opened in the next month.

OTI and International Organization for Migration (IOM) staff met several times with the Ministry of Women's Affairs to resolve the final problems with constructing the women's centers. An outstanding land-deed issue for Sar-I Pul was resolved through timely intervention by the deputy minister for technical issues after OTI requested assistance. The minister also was personally solicited for assistance to resolve a problem in Logar related to the contractor, and she agreed to write a letter to support IOM in its choice of contractors. Construction is now set to begin on both of these centers.

Bridge damaged in Bamyan - A bridge in Panjab District of Bamyan Province that was constructed through the Afghanistan Transition Initiative (ATI) program was damaged in recent flooding. The governor requested urgent assistance in repairing the damage so that the bridge could be saved, and ATI responded immediately. The wing wall of the bridge was repaired by the company that had been contracted to build the bridge, and the community and governor were highly appreciative.

OTI officially closes - OTI closed its doors on June 30. The program implemented more than 700 small grants over the life of the project, including grants related to media, gender, community infrastructure, and democracy and government support. OTI handed over 28 grants to be managed by other organizations after its departure. The USAID Mission recognized OTI's efforts over the years with a farewell party in which the mission director offered words of praise for the program and staff.

B. Grant Activity Summary

Seven grants totaling more than $400,000 and 14 cost amendments totaling more than $100,000 were approved during the reporting period.

Small grants:

- Publication of one book about Afghan democracy and Islam ($17,357)

- Capacity-building training for construction contractors ($45,100)

- Distribution of the portrait photography book "Parwana" ($14,100)

- Development and design of counter narcotics media campaign - Part 1 ($98,395)

- Development and design of counter narcotics media campaign - Part 2 ($99,330)

- Development and design of counter narcotics media campaign - Part 3 ($52,275)

- Completion of Omara Khan School, Kabul ($86,660)

Amendments:

- Production of project signs ($2,000)

- Human security assessment in Afghanistan ($18,000)

- Support for Afghan HR Commission Office in Maimana, Faryab Province ($7,847)

- AINA regional media centers: Operation and production support, Kabul, ($1,318)

- AINA media center: Radio programming development and dissemination, Kabul ($14,566)

- Independent Afghan News Agency: Ongoing operations I ($578)

- Independent Afghan News Agency: Ongoing operations II ($10,097)

- Publication of one book about Afghan democracy under Islam ($913)

- Dahan-e-Moher Bridge rehabilitation, Panjab District, Bamyan ($6,000)

- Construction of provincial women's center in Parwan Province ($5,667)

- Rehabilitation of Rabia School, Kabul ($795)

- Construction of a provincial women's center in Paktya Province ($10,843)

- Construction of provincial women's center in Baghlan Province ($1,240)

- Construction of provincial women's Center in Sar-I Pul ($31,540)

Grants Closed during this reporting period: 96

Remaining open grants: 55


Grants Summary Table - June 2005

Number of Grants
Total Committed
Total Spent
Bamyan
47
$ 1,681,318
$ 1,681,013
Gardez
62
$ 2,573,347
$ 2,430,542
Herat
46
$ 1,974,214
$ 1,953,654
Islamabad
9
$ 412,624
$ 412,624
Kabul
406
$26,306,710
$19,748,999
Kandahar
46
$ 1,919,751
$ 1,909,567
Kunduz
26
$ 1,066,411
$ 795,223
Maimana
9
$ 396,319
$ 396,319
Mazar
66
$ 2,417,672
$ 2,173,606
Washington, D.C., other
17
$11,858,808
$ 616,724
TOTAL
734
$50,607,174
$32,118,271

C. Indicators of Success

Irrigation Projects Create Trust in Government in Kunduz

Afghanistan is widely run by the traditional tribal system that has been in place for centuries, and, as a result, people are wary of the government. Part of OTI's program in Afghanistan through the Afghanistan Transition Initiative (ATI) was to address this and develop a relationship between the government and the traditional leaders in villages. In the northeast, ATI used irrigation projects to create lasting partnerships between these leaders and the emerging central government, and it has produced tremendous results.

Mirabs, or water managers, such as Mohammad Hussein, are one part of the equation. As Mirab, he is responsible for the maintenance of the 30-kilometer canal that takes its water from the mighty Amou Daria River that winds through 16,000 hectares of land in a fertile district of northern Kunduz Province. More than 11,000 people depend on this canal to irrigate their crops. So each year when the Amou Daria flooded, Hussein worked overtime to protect the earth-built intake. "Every day for weeks we would bring trees, brush, whatever we could find to the canal, and still it was not enough," Hussein said. "Our canal, our fields, were still destroyed." Five men died in the last six years while trying to stave off the destructive waters.

This high-priority canal project was approved by USAID/OTI to assist Hussein in helping the people he represents. Through the ATI project, a new, permanent intake to protect the vital canal from seasonal flooding was built. More than 80 men and 55 women from the surrounding communities contributed to the project.

The partnership that developed can be illustrated by the fact that, most weeks, Engineer Qassim, the director of Kunduz's Department of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, was right beside Hussein, ready with his engineering drawings and his eye for detail. Qassim and his colleagues from the Irrigation Department had made the intake project a priority as part of a broad effort to limit the effects of erosion on the banks of the Amou Daria. He worked with ATI engineers from the beginning to design the new intake and regularly monitored the structure during implementation. Today, Qassim and Hussein are working on another project; ATI is no longer involved, but the partnership remains.

In total, the ATI program implemented 12 irrigation projects in Kunduz and Takhar Provinces, bringing local communities and the new Afghan government together to solve some of the region's most pressing problems.

NEXT STEPS/IMMEDIATE PRIORITIES

During the month of July 2005, OTI will:

- Attend to post-close-out administration in the USAID Mission.

- Manage after-program actions in Washington, D.C.

- Review final evaluation and OTI-funded Afghanistan report.

For further information, please contact:

In Washington: Elizabeth Callender, USAID/OTI/Afghanistan Program Manager, Tel: 202-712-4078, ecallender@usaid.gov