Afghanistan

USAID Field Report Afghanistan May 2005

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Program Description

USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives is increasing citizen awareness of and confidence in the process of recovery, rehabilitation and democratic political development in post-conflict Afghanistan. These aims are being 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.

OTI's rapid support for activities in Afghanistan's transition period helps 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 identifies and supports 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 is scheduled to end in June 2005. OTI is 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 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, United Nations Development Program and Ronco.

Country Situation

An upsurge in violence in May - This upsurge was expected because the period leading to Parliamentary elections in September is considered to be a critical time for insurgents to try to derail the establishment of democratic processes.

Anti-U.S. protests - In early May, protests took place across the country following a Newsweek report alleging desecration of the Koran by the U.S. military in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. While several protests were peaceful, others led to the deaths of demonstrators. International staff members in several regions were evacuated or moved to safe zones until calm was restored. All international organizations have been placed on high alert.

Threats to internationals - During the reporting period, threats against Afghans working for international organizations continued, with specific threats reported in southeast Afghanistan. Severe security restrictions remained in effect in the capital of Kabul because of multiple kidnapping attempts. Seven kidnapping attempts preceded the May 16 abduction of an Italian female staff member of CARE International. A suicide bombing at a Kabul Internet cafe May 7 resulted in the death of a U.N. Office for Project Services staff member; an undetermined number of Afghan national staff members of a USAID contractor were killed in southern Afghanistan, and three Afghan women who worked for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) were also killed in northern Afghanistan.

Flooding in central Afghanistan - About 100 families were displaced in the Patu village, Waras district, following intense rain and subsequent flooding. The Eastern Shahristan district in the central Dai Kundi Province was also affected by the heavy rain. A collapsed wooden bridge along the main road from the Panjao district to the Waras district made the stretch impassable for cars. Representatives from U.N. agencies, the Afghan government, and local NGOs visited and surveyed the affected regions and are coordinating aid delivery.

Election workers - Election and security officials have verified that several threats have been made against the safety of national and international elections workers and voters in Dai Kundi. Anti-government elements reportedly are now operating in the Gizab and Dai Kundi districts. They are planning to disrupt the elections with attacks on international and national election workers/convoys and voters in these areas, which could eventually lead candidates to forfeit their nominations.

Incidents in the Southeast Region - In the Southeast Region, insurgent attacks have increased dramatically. The discovery of a brochure being distributed in Puli Alam, Logar, a community between Kabul and Gardez, calling for "Death to all Americans" and "Death to all Christians," exemplifies the growing insecurity in the region. U.N. staff members were cautioned to be particularly vigilant when undertaking missions into Zabul Province after the reported killing of two international businessmen by the Taliban. In total, there were seven deaths and six injuries reported in the southern region, though two of the deaths remain unconfirmed. In addition, the head of the Kandahar City shura, or local council, was murdered when leaving his office May 29, following his denouncement of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar.

A. Narrative Summary

OTI-funded Women's Resource Centers - In Helmand Province in the south, a meeting was held May 3 with the director of the Department of Women's Affairs to discuss the opening ceremonies for two OTI-supported Women's Resource Centers and to prepare a list of items needed for the centers. On May 8, OTI/Afghanistan met with Najiba Sharif, deputy minister of the Ministry of Women's Affairs, about the ceremonies for the Badakshan and Parwan women's centers. It was agreed that the ministry would send engineers to inspect the new buildings before the ceremonies, and, on May 22, the Badakshan women's center was formally handed over to the ministry.

Irrigation projects in Kunduz - The inauguration of two irrigation projects in Imam Sahib took place May 10. The event in Kunduz Province in the north brought together OTI's implementing partner, joined by community members and leaders, and government representatives to mark the completion of protection walls for two crucial irrigation canals. A representative of the Kunduz Department of Rural Rehabilitation and Development attended the ceremony and discussed future projects with community members. Kunduz TV filmed the event and broadcast a segment on the evening news.

Takhar canal - For the inauguration May 17 of the Hait Bacha Canal intake in Takhar Province, the governor of the northern province, the director of the Takhar Irrigation Department, the police chief, and a representative from the Department of Rural Rehabilitation and Development joined 15 community leaders and more than 50 community members to celebrate the completion of the project.

Final evaluation team - The team traveled to a cross-section of locations in the country to perform the research for the OTI/Afghanistan final evaluation. Destinations included Herat, Kandahar, Balkh, Samangan and Paktya Provinces.

OTI deputy director visits - OTI's deputy director, Rob Jenkins, visited Afghanistan from May 26 to June 1 to view the program as it prepares to close down. Jenkins visited a variety of projects both in Kabul and neighboring areas, which included a day trip to Istalif to view the hydro-power plant and meet with local shura members; a tour of many of the projects in the media portfolio, and site visits in Parwan Province. The highlight of the Parwan visit was the distribution of uniforms and equipment for the girls' soccer team and the subsequent scrimmage.

B. Grant Activity Summary

Grants Activity During the Reporting Period

Four small grants totaling $297,220 and eight cost amendments totaling $62,393 were approved during the reporting period.

Small grants:

  • Establishment of a Pashto TV station on satellite in Afghanistan ($154,080).

  • Construction of the Khoja Omari Bridge in Ghazni City ($140,000).

  • Rehabilitation of boys' and girls' soccer fields, Parwan Province ($1,011).

  • Final-inspection travel grant for the Ministry of Women's Affairs engineers ($2,129).

Amendments include:
  • Support for a journalist training and advocacy organization ($21,760).

  • Construction of a provincial women's center in Ghazni Province ($11,466).

  • Production of project signs ($2,000).

  • Rehabilitation of Rabia School, Kabul ($3,391).

  • Construction of a potable water system for District Two, Kabul Province ($5,047).

  • Purchase of radios for distribution in the North and West ($838).

Grants Closed during this reporting period: 40

Remaining open grants: 134


Grants Summary Table - May 2005
Number of Grants
Total Committed
Total Spent
Bamyan
47
$ 1,690,301
$ 1,556,073
Gardez
62
$ 2,622,807
$ 2,220,734
Herat
46
$ 1,977,143
$ 1,902,533
Islamabad
9
$ 412,624
$ 412,624
Kabul
285
$22,486,667
$19,008,254
Kandahar
46
$ 1,923,865
$ 1,837,332
Kunduz
26
$ 1,073,178
$ 749,560
Maimana
9
$ 396,650
$ 394,441
Mazar
66
$ 2,386,477
$ 2,124,586
Washington, DC
4
$ 598,724
$ 583,806
TOTAL
600
$35,568,436
$30,789,943


C. Indicators of Success

USAID/OTI Supports Girls' Education in Southern Afghanistan

"Zabul Province never had a chance to have a girls' school to provide education opportunities to the women of Zabul," the deputy director of the Department of Education said. But in an exceptional effort to change this reality, OTI began constructing a girls' school through its implementing partner last year in Zabul, a southeastern region that has suffered 25 years of war.

Girls have been treated very harshly in this conservative area, particularly under the Taliban regime. They reportedly were kidnapped and killed if there were even rumors of them receiving an education. OTI funded the construction of the school in the Qalat district to build on the momentum of the construction of another girls' school on the other side of town by the U.N. Development Program (UNDP). The importance of education in this region, even beyond that of religious education for boys, has been heightened, but, until now, the infrastructure has not existed to support the next generation of children.

The foundation was ready for the construction of a girls' school in the Qalat district of Zabul Province. Today, 300 students attend the OTI-built facility.

The population of Zabul Province is growing significantly because of an influx of returnees and refugees. Today there are about 2,000 girls in Qalat district who are receiving an education, about 300 of whom attend the new OTI-funded school. USAID/OTI approved the grant that covered the construction materials, while UNDP contributed labor costs.

From the beginning, government support was ensured by coordinating with the Afghan Department of Education, which was active in registering students and providing teachers for this new school.

"My first priority was to provide a decent facility for my daughters and the girls of Qalat district so they can feel good and comfortable about going to school," the deputy director said.

NEXT STEPS/IMMEDIATE PRIORITIES

During June, OTI will:

  • Finalize its program close-out, scheduled for June 30.

  • Continue to monitor and evaluate existing projects;

  • Work to resolve any issues related to OTI-funded projects before close-out.

For further information, please contact:

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