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    Daykundi: A model for success in southern Afghanistan

    Abrahams on guard

    Photo By Sgt. Sam Dillon | In this photo provided by International Security Assistance Force Regional command...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Sam Dillon 

    ISAF Regional Command South

    DAYKUNDI PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Nestled at the base of a 12,000 foot mountain lies the town of Nili, the provincial capital of Daykundi. In the streets of Nili, people are powering their motorcycles and vans up and down the steep and narrow roads. People on foot meander through the shops of the town’s bazaar, and children walk with books in hand on their way to the local schools. No one really rushes, or seems to be on edge. It is just another peaceful day in the largest town in Daykundi.

    In the International Security Assistance Force’s Regional Command South, security has been something that has plagued the area since the start of Operation Enduring Freedom nearly 10 years ago. The region, consisting of Kandahar, Zabul, Uruzgan and Daykundi provinces, has been the Taliban’s stronghold throughout much of the war, all except for one province, Daykundi.

    The people of Daykundi, mostly Hazara, Mongolian descendents living primarily in central Afghanistan, have secured their province to the point of there only being minimal ISAF service members within the province and many different aid projects underway.

    In fact, the security of the province is so good that Daykundi Governor Qurban Ali Orugani says that the government of Afghanistan will announce that the province will be returned to the people of Daykundi in October, and all ISAF service members will be pulled out of the province entirely.

    This security has made way for many different aid projects to bolster the infrastructure of the area. The newest project completed being the Nili Airstrip, a 900-meter dirt runway that was completed on June 12. Members of the United States Agency for International Development contracted the project out to the Central Asia Development Group, a company that specializes in engineering, project management, civil design, agriculture, finance and economics. The company locally hired a staff of 400 men. Paying the construction crew $6 to $14 per day and using mostly hand tools, the work force moved nearly 200 metric tons of earth, costing a total of $946,000 to finish the project.

    “We use all local goods and materials from lumber to gasoline, so in the end all the money is going to the people of Nili,” said Frank Martin Leyland, a U.S. AID employee.

    Another project backed by Central Asia Development Group is the Tamazan Pass road project. This project has an initiative of completing a nearly three and a quarter mile long paved road through the mountainous pass. The road will connect the provincial capital and the village of Tamazan, and open up interior Daykundi to farther larger towns to the south. The construction project will be budgeted for $365,000 and is estimated to be finished by the end of September.

    “For 20 years there was no non-government organizations that would go near that area and it was my desire to change that,” said Leyland. “For me the main reason is to help with the security of this province.”

    The Nili footpath, another Central Asia Development Group project, is just one more example of the many projects transforming the infrastructure of interior Afghanistan. The three and three quarter mile long path will wind its way through the heart of the town and will be made of a crushed rock surface to help with drainage. The path will help a prominently walking town navigate throughout and will cost nearly $600,000 with a projected completion time of September.

    “When the snow melts you get two months of sludge and this is a walking city,” said Leyland.

    The student body is the most impressive part of Daykundi. They have grown at an exponential rate of nearly 1,800% in only seven years. Children walk for miles and miles to attend a school with no windows or even enough room to fit all the students. Many of the students attend class in makeshift classrooms made of some poles with blankets hanging off the sides. Due to the progressive thinking of Hazara people in Daykundi, said Gina Mansouri Ladenheim, RC-South cultural adviser, there are two new school projects underway to build new structures at two of the three campuses in the Nili area, adding additional classrooms and expanding the educational opportunity for the children of Nili.

    “The new school will help us out a lot. It will give us eight additional classrooms,” said Khadija Mousawi, Gandanak Girls’ School principal.

    Nili also has a hospital with a 44-person staff consisting of doctors, nurses, midwives, anesthesiologist, x-ray technician, lab technician and a dentist. The hospital was built four years ago and consists of two wards: a surgery ward, housing 20 beds, and a maternity ward with eight beds. The majority of patients in the hospital are for pregnancies; nearly 65 a month and many of the births are premature.

    This is a problem for the hospital. The hospital doesn’t have power at night, and neither does the rest of Nili. The only power sources are gas powered generators or solar panels, which were installed a couple of years ago throughout the town, but the hospital doesn’t have either power sources. The equipment for the premature newborns doesn’t run 24 hours a day, which leads to a high infant mortality rate.

    “The public opinion in Daykundi is to have one child a year and that maybe one will survive,” said Hava Rezaie, director of women’s affairs for Daykundi.

    This is only part of the problem though, because of the high amount of pregnancies in the province and the low number of beds in the maternity ward many of the women only get six to 24 hours of recovery time post birth, said Ali Akbaor, director of nurses.

    “This doesn’t give the mothers much recovery from the pregnancy and it’s setting them up for infections once they leave the hospital,” Akbaor said. “We see a lot of them back, if not here, at the clinic.”

    This is the one blemish in an overall developing province. Due to the ability of the people of Daykundi to secure their province, much more development has been able to take place, which has made the life of the people of Nili easier and brought more stability to the region.



    Date Taken: 06.19.2011
    Date Posted: 06.19.2011 07:37
    Story ID: 72370
    Location: NILI, DAYKUNDI, AF

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