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Ghazni PRT Members Meet with Afghans to Discuss Irrigation Project

Story by U.S. Air Force
Master Sgt. Sarah R. Webb

An elder from the district of Andar, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, participates in a shura held at the district center on 2 Feb. The shura was held to discuss a massive irrigation project as well as various vocational training programs. The projects presented are part of the capacity building plan for the district. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Sarah R. Webb, Ghazni Provincial Reconstruction Team, PAO)

GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Members of Ghazni Provincial Reconstruction Team and Central Asia Development Group met with key leaders from Andar district to enlist support for a massive irrigation project, as well as various vocational training programs, Feb 2.

The Chardewal irrigation system was built to distribute water from the Bandee Sardi Dam throughout much of Andar, but due to neglect the canals have fallen into disrepair.

Currently, water flows at only 50 percent capacity, limiting the ability of local farmers of the Kahnjoor farming zone to make a living.

The reconstructed canal would be a one-kilometer cobblestone irrigation channel along the village with a curb separating the roadway from the canal.

Chardewal, a village located in the middle of Andar, has suffered from drought and poor water management. With mentoring from the PRT, cooperation from the district sub-governor and village elders, the CADG will rebuild the village canal. It is the first stage of a long term cash-for-work program aimed at restoring the irrigation system and rehabilitating the Kahnjoor farming zone.

Capacity building in this unstable district is considered the most critical mission for the development, reconstruction and stabilization efforts being made in Andar.

 “Our problems are our water (supply) and our roads,” said Niaz Mohammad, an elder from Chardewal. “We do not have enough water, wells or roads.”

The project hopes to provide cash-for-work for deprived households in a Pashtun dominated area. The project could improve the agricultural potential for more than 2,000 people.

“The idea of the project is to give 375 jobs to people in the village for the first phase of the canal,” said Mr. Tabibi, representative of the CADG. “If the canal project is successful, the subsequent phases of the project could employ as many as 1,500 laborers.”

Along with the need for skilled laborers to work on the irrigation project, the area is also in desperate need for further employment opportunities.

 “We need help,” said Yusef Mohammed, Andar district sub-governor. “Our people need to be more skilled. We have ten villages surrounding the (district center). If they’re interested, we want them to come and improve themselves.”

The Local Governance and Community Development Program also met with Ghazni community leaders to identify which vocational education and training opportunities would most benefit the community.

With the skills and knowledge gained by this training, locals can earn income to support their families. They would not have to turn to insurgency as a means of income.

The planned vocational training includes a variety of trades such as small engine and simple machine repair, plumbing and water pump repair, brick and stone masonry, as well as carpentry.

Small engine and simple machine repair training will provide skills in small motor and machine repair and maintenance. These are skills that are needed in Andar. It will provided needed specialists for repairing small engines for generators and motorbikes and simple machines. This will enhance their ability to make repairs and utilize equipment which would otherwise be discarded.

“Hopefully, what we have brought today is more valuable than just bringing humanitarian supplies,” said Lt. Col. Kenneth Primus, deputy commander for the PRT. “We want to help bring jobs, and with jobs - hope for the future.”

The training given by the LGCD promotes an environment which encourages villagers to improve their vocational skills, thus improving their community’s development

“Doing these projects in Andar will be a good way to prove that it is a good district”, said Blake Kent, a provincial stability director for Local Governance and Community Development in Ghazni. “No one knows more about what you need than you do. We can talk about what types of training and projects you would be interested in. We can do more to help you in the areas you need help in. This project will not happen overnight, but at least if we know some of the things we can help with, we can move towards helping. I know you hear a lot of promises about what will happen, but it has to start somewhere, we have to begin at the beginning so we can move step by step towards something greater.”

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