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U.S. Agency for International Development
Grading work has progressed 12.5 kilometers (to K 55.5). Work compacting and grading the roadway has begun on the next 39 km road segment, which includes the first bridge that requires reconstruction.
Ambassador William Taylor reports that although the road has not yet been asphalted, improvements made so far in grading and compacting the roadway allow vehicles to travel at three times their previous speed. Ambassador Taylor found positive support for the project among Afghans living near the road, many of whom have found employment with the road contractor. With basic procedures now established for procuring materials, supplies, and labor, simultaneous work on multiple road segments will help speed project completion.
Other Infrastructure Projects
In December, the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, made its 200th quick impact grant in Afghanistan. The most recent grants are located in the Southeast of Afghanistan, a priority area for the Karzai government. These grants will rebuild a school, rehabilitate irrigation infrastructure, and rebuild the bridge permitting travel between Khost and Paktia provinces.
Fall distribution of seed and fertilizer is complete. USAID distributed seed and fertilizer to 91,500 families and fertilizer to an additional 28,500 families. The 6,000 metric tons of wheat seed and fertilizer will yield 42,000 metric tons of wheat at next summer's harvest, an estimated additional income of $69 per household, and is a key step in rebuilding Afghanistan's ability to feed itself and reduce dependence upon food aid.
The first workshop on basic education in post-Taliban Afghanistan took place from December 10 to 15, 2002, in Kabul funded by the U.S. Government. Education Minister Yunus Qanooni, USAID Mission Director Craig Buck, and approximately 100 other non-governmental organizations,, UN, and Afghan Ministry of Education (MOE) representatives participated in discussions of teacher training, curriculum development, and other fundamental policy issues facing educators in Afghanistan.
USAID trained 1,350 primary school teachers from May through October through a 15 day course in updated teaching methods. Sixty-two top students of these classes received additional master trainer classes and will be hired by the MOE or NGOs to train additional teachers, thus building the self-sustainability of teacher training capacity in the country.
In the past six months, Management Sciences for Health (MSH) has worked with Afghan NGOs to provide basic health services to over two million people in 36 districts of 21 provinces. An estimated 90 percent of these beneficiaries are women and children. Indirect beneficiaries, such as family and community members, account for an additional 1.2 million people.
Bonn Agreement Processes
The $21.6 million, two-year Strengthening Democratic Initiatives (SDI) project has been authorized by USAID. The project will support the work of the Constitutional, Judicial, and Human Rights Commissions from the Bonn Agreement, help strengthen electoral processes, and build Afghan media. Two constitution experts have already been deployed to the Constitutional Commission.
Currency Conversion Process
The U.S. is the primary donor in this process, providing technical expertise, equipment (currency counters and shredders), transportation for delivery of currency to exchange points, monitors to ensure the destruction of the old notes, and personnel to staff the 52 exchange points. An additional $3.3 million has been provided to cover the costs of the one month extension of the exchange period.
Prepositioning of 52,000 metric tons of essential food commodities donated by USAID has been completed by the World Food Programme and other partner organizations. This food will be directed at 1.3 million Afghans located in 56 districts whose location makes them highly vulnerable to the country's severe winter.
USAID is supporting Radio Afghanistan, Voice of America, and Afghanistan's first independent radio station; training radio and print journalists; producing a weekly news magazine; and making and distributing documentary films on policy and health issues. The next series of documentary films will be viewed by over 1 million Afghans. Future projects will establish additional production studios and radio stations and produce programming on reconstruction.
$104.7 million has been obligated since the end of September, 2002, including:
- $33 million to the World Bank for the Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund;
- $7 million for emergency winterization projects, including the Salang pass;
- $5 million to Louis Berger for non-highway infrastructure;
- $38 million to Louis Berger for the reconstruction of the Kabul-Kandahar-Herat highway.
- $2 million for de-mining for the highway with UNMAC;
- $15 million to the Barents Group for building fiscal, monetary, accountability, and private investment systems in Afghanistan;
- $1.3 million to expand the successful alternative development high value crop program in Helmand;
- $3.3 million to Louis Berger for the extension of the currency conversion process.
Funds to be obligated in January, 2003 include:
- $1.2 million to maintain primary health services (funds to be determined);
- $1.5 million for UNICEF immunization cold chain (funds to be determined);
- $2.5 million for 14 Women's Centers;
- $1 million for accelerated learning programs for girls;
- $300,000 for continued work by Camp, Dresser, McKee on water systems in Kandahar and Kunduz;
- $600,000 for the Famine Early Warning System to deploy in Kabul;
- $2.88 million to expand DAI/HAFO's irrigation rehabilitation work in Helmand;
- $500,000 to the UN for the Human Rights Commission; and
- $5 million Supplemental to support the Constitutional Commission and upcoming electoral processes.
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(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)