2005-04-04

 

Afghanistan needs reconstruction

Almost 3 decades of war destroyed Afghanistan and Afghanistan has suffered from the highest level of destruction of any country during the 20th century. After the fall of the Taliban, people were hoping that the world community would take part in rebuilding Afghanistan. But the progress has been very slow and the long road ahead to rebuild the country is filled with obstacles. However, Afghanistan has achieved a lot in the past three years as a result of the Bonn agreement, the Loya Jirga, the presidential elections and establishing a democratic government. These are the achievements of Afghanistan in the last three years but the main challenge for the US and world community is the reconstruction of Afghanistan which has been going very slow in past three years. Afghanistan has been destroyed by a long war of almost three decades and the reconstruction in such circumstances is a great challenge. The people of Afghanistan welcome the US for overthrowing the Taliban. They think that the US has been successful with that, but the most important phase which the US is currently going through is the reconstruction of Afghanistan. The US has set some short term and some long term development programs but prioritizing them will take a long time.

At the moment Afghan people are suffering from problems with drinking water, power, health care and lack of jobs. Except in a few cities, there is no power system in almost 80 percent of the country. Two months ago the people of the capital, Kabul, had power for only 6 hours a night every day, but after the snow and rainfall the Kabul residents got lucky and have power almost 15 hours a day. But the western part of the capital still lacks power because the power system was destroyed there in the 1993 war and in the past three years no steps have been taken to fix the power system for the western part of capital. Power is really important in daily life. Most people in the capital, Kabul don’t have drinking water pipes in their houses so they go out and sometimes have to walk far to get water from the water pumps because the water system has been destroyed and really needs to be fixed. In most rural areas of the country there is no drinking water facilities for the people and they drink the river water, or some drink from the well which is not healthy.

The 3rd main problem is health care as I mentioned in a previous blog. In most parts of the country there is no health clinic and lack of doctors make it very difficult because most doctors live in the big cities and it's really hard to find a good doctor in farther parts of Afghanistan. The government must build health clinics in every village and send doctors to help people. Our education system must be changed. We need new and modern education for our schools and universities. At the school where I graduated last year, which was the 4th-most modern in Kabul, we didn’t have enough lab facilities to do chemistry subjects. Motorways are also the main problem. In order to connect the cities to each other there are some roads for transportation, but they are not paved and very dusty and complicated and it takes many hours to drive to even close places. The Afghan people hope for international aid and hope that the reconstruction process would go quicker.

Comments:
Here is a list of some of the things being done. The guy who wrote the list is Arthur Chrenkoff, an Australian blogger.

Often, waiting for the government to give you something can be counterproductive. Sometimes you get better results independent of the government....
 
Waheed jan, what's your email? I can't send you a letter through the link.

Tashakar,
roya
 
Persevere. It will be worth it.
 
Just remembered something.

Once a young woman was driving on an American road when she had a flat tire. She stops by the side of the road and waits for assistance. (No cell phone coverage in her immediate area.) An hour goes by until a man stops for her.

He tells her to get the spare tire along with the jack from her trunk, and then proceeds to tell her how to change her tire. Not once does he offer to change the tire for her.

The tires, spare and flat, are heavy. The jack is hard to work with. She has to put a fair amount of muscle into jacking up the care and changing the tire. When it's all said and done she is tire, dirty, and more than a bit upset.

She tells her 'good samaritan', "My arms ache, my back aches, I'm filthy, and my clothes are ruined!"

To which he replied, "From now on you won't need any help changing a tire."
 
I feel a jolt of realism coming on, I think I'll give a more realistic analogy of how foreign aid often goes:

A young woman was driving on a Kabul road when here car had a flat. She pulls over to the side of the road, exits here car and waves for help.

A week later an American looks up and sees a clearly distressed young lady gnawing on her vehicle. He pulls over, considers getting out of the car and opts instead to yell from a slightly cracked window.

"There's a spare on the back, go ahead and take it"

The young woman overcome with happiness eagerly grabs the tire. A though occurs to her.

"Pardon me sir, but I don't have a jack, I see one in your backseat, may I borrow it?"

The American thinks this over for a moment and responds.

"I'm sorry, but I really can't offer you any more aid until I see better results with the tire I gave you."

The stunned woman protest at which point the American tosses a granola bar form his dash.

"Here that ought to hold you over until you change that tire."

Whereupon he swiftly pulls off.

Waheed I'd like to thank you for an excellent and enlightening blog. Rest assured that many in America and the rest of the world understand Afghanistan needs help with its economic plight and are prepared to assist.

I'll include a link to the Millennium Development Project's Country profiles including quite a bit on Afghanistan.
Millennium Development Goals
Just wanted you to know Afghanistan is not alone in the struggle against poverty.

Best Wishes,
Turnea
 
That was very funny Turnea, thanks ! It is indeed very difficult to get that car on the road again when you don't have a spare tyre, jack, petrol, fanbelt, working engine, etc, etc . . . .
 
Dear Waheed,
I am sorry to hear about the devestation still happening. Since you have learned that government cannot or will not do everything in a timely manner, maybe the lesson is: If you want/need something done right or at all, you are better off doing it yourself.

That is a lesson I learn as a young lady in the USA! I love my freedom, and I would sacrifice it for anything. I hope you can have teachers to teach plumbing, cement, telephone companies, well digging and maintaince, and the such. Thank you for letting us know.
 
Correction: I would NOT sacrifice it (my freedom) for anything.
 
I'm some what of a compulsive debater; I call it an overwhelming respect for the truth.

So I have to respond to the do-it-yourself mentality by gently revealing that automotive repair, although a useful analogy, is far from what is at stake here.

Do it yourself doesn't work with roads, hospitals, and sanitation plants. Not when "yourself" is plenty busy just trying to stay alive.

Your government seems to be fighting for assistance. Support them in your blog, join the Millenium Campaign, organize, petition, and generally keep up a ruckus. :P

The squeaky wheel and all that.

Most of all, find the channels where aid may be coming from, once you know possible sources of funding the battle can begin.
 
The best way to get help is to publicize your need for it. I know it does not take a brain surgeon to realize you and yours need extra help. Unfortunately the only kind of news I ever seem to hear out of Afghanistan or Iraq for that matter is when there is a body count involved. This site has been an incredible source for news I would otherwise not get. Not to mention a lot of the people who post comments are first rate as well.

Thanks for all of your hard work,
Dstrong
 
Roya jan my email is Waheedjan2001@yahoo.com
 
"Do it yourself doesn't work with roads, hospitals, and sanitation plants. Not when "yourself" is plenty busy just trying to stay alive."

"Do-it-yourself" CAN work with roads, hospitals, and sanitation plants.

Roads can be built by private people, and tolls charged to cover the costs of building the roads.

The same is true of hospitals and sanitation plants.

I'm not saying that any of these are "no problem" solutions, but private groups CAN do all three of those things.

But private groups won't do any of those things unless the private groups confident that:

a) the roads, hospitals, or sanitation plants won't be destroyed,

b) the builders will be allowed to charge "what the market will bear" for the roads, hospitals and sanitation plants, or

c) roads, hospitals, or sanitation plants won't be taken away.

In other words, the government doesn't need to do any of these things. But the government DOES need to provide the protection of property that private groups need in order to take the risk to build those things.
 
What private groups? Afghan ones?

The say Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world for a reason. The private capital to complete such projects simply does not exist.

...and tolls aside it requires intial capital to build these facilities. The tolls could simply help recoup losses.

...there lies the second problem, where are the tolls coming from? The dirt-poor Afgahns traveling the road?

The point in to build the road is so that the rural poor can have access to travel and to market their goods in populations centers.Charging the already poor people tolls is not helping the situation.

Charging "what the market will bear" is impossible because the market can't bear the load even without the toll.

Afghanistan need foreign capital to make such advances in infrastructure. The government is required to seek and allocate that captial.

A starving Afghan farmer cannot take time and cash out to build a hundred mile toll road.
 
It would seem to me that the foreign aid vs. DIY should actually be a combination of both. I also think it is very difficult for most Americans (myself included) to understand the physical challenges and cultural challenges for both Afghanistan and Iraq. Open sewage, contaminated water, landmines, ammo dumps, terrorists hanging around wanting to murder innocents.....makes for a difficult road to improvement. There are no quick fixes and as it took decades to destroy these countries it will take decades to rebuild. That said, we all need to keep an optomistic outlook and support aid groups (I like the private ones best - not UN). Waheed - looks like you are getting your donations up, hows the outlook on the sat phone?
 
"There are no quick fixes and as it took decades to destroy these countries it will take decades to rebuild."

It shouldn't need to if the international community wises up to the realities of development.

Certainly internal Afghan efforts will play a huge roll in reconstruction, but if we want to quickly improve the lives of millions of Afghans (which incidentally will insulate it from becoming a terrorist of narco-state) it's going to take money, clout, and organization.

Afghanistan is darn near fresh out of that. The UN can work wonders in this situation, provided member states cooperate.

Private NGO's have the advantage of speed, they are not easily bogged down with bureaucracy.

The downside is their relative buying-power. It is not NGO's that built the Kabul-Kandahar road for a reason. They don't have the money or the organizational capacity.

It is these super-projects that require governmental help.
 
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