News: Development in the Dorafshan Valley
Story by 1st Lt. Daniel Riley
TARIN KOT, Afghanistan — Just 11 short days after celebrating the opening of the Tarin Kot to Chorah road, Provincial Reconstruction Team Uruzgan trekked out west to the Dorafshan valley to facilitate a government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan-led shura with the local leadership.
On Saturday, the PRT along with elements of the Combined Team Uruzgan and Alpha Company of the 4/70th Armor conducted a patrol to Combat Outpost Tabar in West Dorafshan with the director of the Afghan Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, Engineer Mohammad Hashim.
Dorafshan is an area with about 70 different villages divided just about down the middle by the Dorafshan River that makes East and West Dorafshan. It is situated in a strategic location to the north of the provincial capital, Tarin Kot, to the West of the Tarin Kot to Chorah Road, separated from the road by its namesake river.
“West Dorafshan is much less accessible than the east with no bridges crossing the river so they have had very little contact with GIRoA and the PRT until now,” said U.S. Navy Reserve Senior Chief Petty Officer Joe Ashley of the PRT civil affairs team and an agricultural expert from Annawan, Ill.
“The meeting was largely led and moderated by engineer Hashim from MRRD,” said U.S. Army Major Asslan Sayyar of the PRT civil affairs team. “[T]he fact that a GIRoA official… took the lead during the meeting instead of waiting for prompting from coalition members is a major step.”
“Engineer Hashim began the meeting and moderated the discussion trying to keep it focused on the area’s development needs,” said Sayyar. “It became very apparent early on that… the area needed road improvements and check dams in order to regulate the inconsistent water flows in the area and improve irrigation without damaging the water table.”
“Dorafshan has about 500 acres of tillable land that is currently not producing crops because of a 10-year drought. Creating irrigation ponds would help them irrigate that 500 acres and get it producing crops again,” said Ashley.
Many of the local and provincial key influencers had representation present at the shura who were actively speaking with both the MRRD director, Hashim, and ANP commander, Mirwais. The conversations were all led and moderated by the Afghan group, and coalition forces took a passive role, mostly just observing the shura. When conversations would stray from the topic of development Mirwais and Hashim would provide cover for each other in their respective areas of expertise and bring the conversations back to development.
“The only time the PRT/CTU engaged was when we were directly questioned by the attendees regarding projects,” said Sayyar. “We just reiterated the need for them to engage the MRRD… in forming development councils and to petition Hashim’s office.”
“Engineer Hashim is very willing and able to spend the time in Dorafshan as long as the villagers put in the paperwork to petition his office. They need to go through the MRRD because once we are no longer here the MRRD is who they will be working with to get the development projects they need,” said Ashley.
“We will help Dorafshan however we can, as long as they put the paperwork through the MRRD, and the villagers provide the security needed for the work to be done,” said Ashley
“The check dams are small scale projects and are doable on a short time scale. They are worth investing in from a [civil affairs] perspective,” said Sayyar.