Afghanistan

USAID Field Report Afghanistan Nov 2002

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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. 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

Kabul was the target of several rocket attacks in November. There were also continued attacks on US military bases and soldiers, and the discovery of new al-Qaeda training camps in remote locations throughout Afghanistan. The arrest of an Iraqi Kurd in Kabul for his attempted assassination of the Minister of Defense and First Vice President Fahim shows that internal and external forces are still intent on destabilizing the Afghan government.

Mid-November also saw conflict at Kabul University, when students protested against poor living conditions on campus and were fired upon by Afghan police forces. Human Rights Watch and other watchdog groups released reports that police continued their heavy-handed tactics by beating injured students in their hospital beds for speaking to journalists and human rights advocates.

Other isolated outbreaks of violence occurred in the country, particularly in the north. One sign of improved security came from the lifting of a 23-year curfew in Kabul. Internationally supervised training is underway in Kabul for the police, the new Afghan army, and the judiciary. Nevertheless, reports of criminal activity seem to have increased and the threat of terrorism remains.

November marked the launching of the Afghan Constitutional Drafting Committee which expects to present the new constitution to the Constitutional Loya Jirga scheduled for October 2003. The disbanded Judicial Commission was reconstituted in November. USAID/OTI will assist both organizations with their operational-start ups.

The Afghan Government extended the deadline for exchanging old to new currency to early January as a number of provinces ran out of the new currency before the November deadline.

On November 10, Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai and U.S. Ambassador Robert P. Finn officiated a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the first day of construction of Afghanistan's main highway, known as Highway 1, from Kabul to Kandahar to Herat. Reconstruction of the highway will take an estimated 36 months to complete and will employ thousands of Afghans. The project will cost an estimated $250 million; $180 million has been pledged to date from the United States, Japan and Saudi Arabia.

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 -- through 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, and Internews. Through IOM-ATI, USAID/OTI funds or is planning projects in 31 provinces: Badakshan, Baghdis, Baglan, Balkh, Bamyan, Faryab, Ghazni, Ghor, Herat, Hilmand, Jawzjan, Kabul, Kandahar, Kapisa, Khost, Kunduz, Laghman, Logar, Nangahar, Nimroz, Nangahar, Nuristan, Paktika, Paktya, Par-wan, Samangan, Sari Pul, Takhar, Uruzgan, Wardak, and Zabul.

Highlights of USAID/OTI's Afghanistan program during the month of November include the following.

Media Program Manager. OTI's new Media Program Manager, Wali Hashimi, began work on November 2, 2002. Hashimi made field trips to Khost, Kandahar, and Jalalabad to explore opportunities for creating new community radio stations. OTI's Media Advisor from Washington, D.C. visited Afghanistan in November to monitor the implementation of USAID/OTI's ongoing post-Loya Jirga media strategy. He also trained USAID/OTI Afghanistan's new Afghan Media Program Manager.

New Office in Paktya Province. USAID/OTI's implementing partner, IOM-ATI, opened a field office in Gardez, Paktya Province, which began working with local communities and government officials to identify reconstruction projects in November.

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

Project Inaugurations. USAID/OTI held a number of project inaugurations in Kabul, inviting local press and preparing press releases to insure that Afghans were aware of the successful collaborations between the U.S. and Afghan governments.

Ministry of Commerce. On November 7, USAID/OTI held an inauguration ceremony for the completion of the Ministry's Internet Center, attended by the Ministry, U.S. Ambassador, USAID Mission Director, and local press.

University of Kabul. Following university riots over students' untenable living conditions, a number of donors, including USAID/OTI, agreed to provide support to improve conditions for students.

Cleaning of the Ghazi Dam, Kabul Province. Following a six-week assessment, survey and map drawing of the Ghazi Dam in April, the USAID/OTI-supported cleaning of the sluice gate was completed in early November. The grant hired labor from among vulnerable segments of the local population to dig and clean around the existing sluice gates in order to improve the flow of water to irrigate over 2000 hectares of land and provide water for over 10,000 people.

Herat - Opening Ceremony of Adraskan Old School. The ceremony was attended by U.S. Ambassador Robert Finn and USAID Mission Director Craig Buck on November 20.

Herat - Completed OTI projects include construction of a ten-classroom extension to the Jami High School in Heart, rehabilitation and reconstruction of Wazir Fatikhan High School, and the extension for Hazerat Omar Faruq High School. A groundbreaking ceremony for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Teacher Training College took place on November 20, attended by the Governor, the Director of Education, other local government officials, and IOM-ATI staff.

Herat - Stalled women's projects finally approved by local government. A kindergarten and the women's market project supported by USAID/OTI were stalled by Governor Ismail Khan's administration in Herat because they were "women's" projects. However, after many lengthy discussions with Khan and others, plans for the kindergarten and garden were approved on November 4.

Balkh - Sultan Razia Girls' School in Mazar-e-Sharif completed. The high school for girls in Mazar-e-Sharif is attended by 3,000 girls per year and has 30 teachers. An opening ceremony was held on November 20, attended by various local officials, a representative of the Ministry of Planning from Kabul and a delegation from the US Embassy in Kabul.

Samangan - Difficulty monitoring projects due to security. OTI's partner, IOM-ATI, has been unable to monitor the rehabilitation of three schools and a brick factory in Dara-e-suf district of Samangan province due to difficulties in obtaining security clearances to the region. Nevertheless, the contractor reports that work is going well.

Maimana office completes a number of USAID/OTI projects, including the rehabilitation of machinery for the Department of Agriculture in Maimana; implementation of the pistachio and almond replantation grant in Faryab Province; and the rehabilitation of the Municipality Building in Maimana.

Kandahar - IOM-ATI Kandahar team made several field trips during November to identify potential new grants throughout the region (Uruzgan, Zabul, Helmand). Three USAID/OTI community projects were completed in November, including the women's wing of the Mir Wais Hospital and two surveys of the Shamalan Channel.

B. Program Impact Reports

(1) Government Departments and Community Leaders Actively Participate in Identifying USAID/OTI Projects. OTI partners identify projects in close cooperation with local government officials to insure that the Afghan people see that their new government is actively engaged in community development. For example, when IOM-ATI staff in Kandahar travel in the region to identify new community projects, they are always accompanied by key government representatives and village leaders. This allows communities to address their concerns directly to the government representatives and demonstrates that the concerns of people outside of provincial capitals are important. These trips also provide a high level of visibility for the representatives of the new Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan.

(2) USAID/OTI networking enables support of radio station in Bamyan. The only radio station in Bamyan, a remote and politically important area in the Central Highlands, went off the air because of a failed generator, lack of adequate equipment, and poorly trained staff. In response, USAID/OTI organized a series of meetings between IMPACS (a Canadian media development organization) and Internews, including a meeting with the radio station in Bamyan. Following these meetings, a community Board of Directors for the radio station was organized with the help the UN-Habitat. Internews offered to provide training, and USAID/OTI staff met with local government officials to keep them informed. IMPACS provided funding for a new generator which was shipped to Bamyan by the U.S. Army.

(3) Afghan women empowered by survey experience. Women staff at the new Office of Women's Affairs in Herat province conducted their first vocational survey of 100 women and 50 men in seven villages as part of a USAID/OTI women's farming and marketing cooperative project. The survey assessed people's attitudes about war widows participating in the project. It was designed to gauge public opinion in the wake of Taliban rule which did not allow women to work outside the home. The survey showed overwhelming support by both men and women for women farming and supporting their families. This finding came as a welcome surprise to women in the area who were reassured that they could work safely outside their homes and still be accepted by most people in their village.

(4) Equipment for Radio Station in Kandahar not being used. OTI Grantee Internews provided radio management and journalist training for radio journalists across Afghanistan. When OTI Program Managers visited Radio Kandahar to evaluate the effectiveness of the training in November, they found that none of the equipment (a computer, editing, and sound equipment) provided to the station was being used. It was stored in a locked room, still in its original wrapping. Radio Kandahar staff acknowledged that they did not have the engineering capacity to assemble the new equipment. The Internews Program Officer accompanying USAID/OTI staff immediately committed to additional equipment training and closer monitoring of the use of the equipment. OTI staff also met with the U.S. Army Civil Affairs team who offered to provide a communications engineer to assist with setting up the new equipment.

(5) Afghan Ex-Combatants work with Afghan Government to Rebuild Bridge in Bamyan. In partnership with the local authorities and the NGO Solidarites, OTI's partner, IOM-ATI, supported the construction of a bridge over the Djar-e-Qaramak ravine on the Saighan main road. Construction took three and a half months to complete and benefits 3,630 families living in the area. Eighty-eight workers were hired for fifteen days under a cash for work plan.

IOM-ATI was asked by local officials to rebuild the bridge which had been in disrepair for the past 23 years. Although the lack of a bridge provided residents with some protection from the Russians and the Taliban, it was a major obstacle to trade once peace returned to the region. In close partnership with the Governor of Bamyan and the Afghan Ministry of Rural Development, the Community of Djar-e-Qaramak rebuilt the bridge. Many of the workers were former combatants who told IOM-ATI staff they were proud to participate to the reconstruction of their country.

(6) Reconstruction of Teacher Training Institute in Kunduz Brings New Hope. Following the USAID/OTI funded reconstruction of the Kunduz Teacher Training Institute in Northern Afghanistan, IOM-ATI program staff interviewed students studying at the school. The interviews brought to the surface the hopes and aspirations of the people of the province for peace and progress. The students, mostly female, mentioned that Afghanistan has suffered too long from war and destruction which has resulted in institutionalized repression of education and learning. The changes that have come to Kunduz, such as the reconstruction of their school, have given them hope for a better future and the inspiration to dream.

C. Civil-Military Affairs Update

(1) U.S. Army Civil Affairs. The U.S. Army in Afghanistan and its Civil Affairs teams are undergoing a major expansion and restructuring. Thirteen new Civil Affairs teams in eleven regional sites shipped out of Bagram to the provinces at the beginning of November, doubling the number of field teams from six months ago. Each of the teams will identify and oversee the implementation of small reconstruction projects. Additional Army Civil Affairs personnel will be joining these teams in December to focus on coordinating reconstruction and humanitarian assistance.

USAID/OTI's Field Program Manager prepared briefing packets for eleven new U.S. Army Civil Affairs Teams (formerly called 'CHLC' and now called 'CAT-A'). Packets contained information about USAID's Afghanistan strategy and programs; listing of IOs and NGO working in Afghanistan; OTI projects lists for each of the provinces; U.S. Embassy staff directory; and contact information for USAID staff in Kabul and for OTI-IOM-ATI staff in each of the regional offices. The Program Manager also conducted briefings on USAID projects in Afghanistan, good development practices, and USG political and development objectives for the second round of Army Civil Affairs team being deployed out to the Army field locations. She also took CAT-A staff in Kandahar, Kabul, Herat, Bamyan and Kunduz to meet political leaders, UNAMA area coordinators, and the IOM-ATI staff.

(2) Military Expansion and Joint Regional Teams (JRT). The U.S. civil affairs teams will form the nucleus of the Joint Regional Teams, an expanded U.S. Army team of soldiers. The JRTs, which are expanding to include approximately 150 additional soldiers, are scheduled for seven locations and will focus on regional security.

USAID/OTI's Field Program Manager led a delegation of USAID and UN representatives to Bagram for briefings about the Coalition's military expansion plans in 2003 with General McNeill, Commander of the Coalition Forces in Afghanistan, and his planning team. The Program Manager also organized a U.S. Embassy briefing on the JRTs and the Civil Affairs teams. Several follow-up meetings have also been hosted by USAID-OTI between CJCMOTF and USAID grantees and contractors.

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

Program Category
Approved
Total
Community Infrastructure
13
$531,232
Good Governance / Transparency
3
$100,210
Media
1
$56,026
Total
17
$687,468

USAID/OTI signed the following 18 small grants during the current reporting period, November 2002:

Subgrantee
Project
Beneficiaries
Parent-Teacher Association of Gulbahar, Kabul Rehabilitation of the Gulbahar School for Girls 1,400 female and 805 male students, as well as 150 villagers benefiting from wages earned working on the project.
Communities of Doab and Kanizie, Kandahar Province Materials to construct dikes for flood protection in Doab and Kanizie Villages. 4,800 residents of Doab and Kanizi villages. 100 people will benefit from working on the project.
Communities of Pasroya and Plateau, Bamyan Opening of Ghorak Pass. 21,600 persons will benefit from the opening of the Pass
Community members in Pul-e-Khumri, Baghlan Rehabilitation and construction of Bala-Duri Canal in Pul-e-Khumri. 40,000 families will benefit from the project. Over 300 people will benefit from wages earned working on the project.
Community of Faizabad, Badakshan. Construction and rehabilitation of two schools in Faizabad District - Faizabad girls school, and the Mimlik Primary School 16 communities will benefit. 830 students and 34 teachers will benefit from the Faizabad girls school, and 530 students and 11 teachers will benefit from the Mimlik Primary school.
Educational Community of Spin Boldak, Kandahar. Construction of latrines for 6 schools in Spin Boldak. 2,260 students will benefit.
Communities of Panjwal and Dand Districts, Kandahar Installation of 35 culverts for the secondary road in Panjwal and Dand Districts. 70,000 residents of Panjwal and Dand Districts.
The Community of Kolangar, Logar Construction of 10 culverts along the Qalai access road to the Kolangar girls' school. 200 female students, 100 vehicles driving along the road daily, and 100 laborers who will work on the project.
Community of Dihrawud, Uruzugan Provision of drainage canals and rehabilitation of the Center Square in Dihrawud. 10,000 residents of Dihrawud town, and 30,000 villagers that come to the town weekly.
Community of Shingharre, Zabul Province Construction of 4 check dams and 1 elevated irrigation canal. 1,000 residents of Shingharre village, and 20 people employed to work on the project for 6 weeks
Communities in Kohdaman Valley, Kabul. Increasing the water supply in Kohdaman Karez System. 3,000 people will benefit from increased irrigation water, 150 workers will be employed.
Community of Tirin Kot, Uruzgan. Construction of 15 culverts and 4 bridges in Tirin Kot area and road to Dihrawud. 20,000 residents of Tirin Kot, as well as 32,000 residents of surrounding villages and 10,000 residents of Dihrawud.
Department of Agriculture, Faryab. Rehabilitation of Machinery for the Department of Agriculture. Residents of Faryab and surrounding regions
Ministry of Finance, Kabul Additional funds to complete Reconstruction of the Ministry of Finance. Employees of the Ministry and the public they serve.
AINA, nationwide. Support for Radio Talk Show, "Between Us", production of 17 thirty-minute shows whose focus is on stimulating public debate on topics of national interest regarding Afghanistan's recovery and development. 23 Afghans will benefit from radio production training,, up to 13 million Afghans will be able to listen to the nationwide broadcasts.
Afghan Constitutional Drafting Committee, Kabul Provision of office equipment, internet access, and bathroom renovation to facilitate the work of the Constitutional Drafting Committee The people of Afghanistan
Kabul University Rehabilitation of 3 rooms in the student dormitory for study and recreation Approximately 2,700 students and 165 workers living in the student dormitory

NEXT STEPS/IMMEDIATE PRIORITIES

During the month of December, USAID/OTI will:

  • Hold inauguration ceremonies for completed grants in Bamyan, including the Qalai Dadar Bridge rehabilitation, Shahidan Market revitalization program, and the opening of Ghorak Pass.

  • Complete rehabilitation of the Kunduz Teachers Training Institute.

  • Complete work on the rehabilitation of Kohihana Bridge in the center of Maimana.

  • Begin work on the construction of five dikes for flood protection in Doab and Kanizie Villages of Maywand district of Kandahar. This grant, in partnership with UNDP/REAP, will stop the destruction of houses and loss of arable land due to erosion from the Arghasan, Duray, and Tarnak rivers.

  • Complete construction of Girls' School in Logar Province. Construction will benefit 200 girls. In order to improve access to the school, IOM-ATI has begun work to build ten culverts along the road linking the school to the village and main road.
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.