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What a Simple Road Can Mean in Afghanistan

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In Afghanistan, getting food to the hungry is challenging enough when you consider the conflict and instability there. A United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) flight crew recently noticed something unusual in their aircraft. They had just landed in Herat when they noticed a bullet hole around the right engine.

Such are the dangers for this vital service that transports aid workers and supplies between Afghan cities that are dangerous to reach by road. The challenges go beyond security, though.

A mountainous and in some parts snowy terrain makes moving food even more difficult. Catholic Relief Services (CRS) operates in the mountains of Ghor province. In the winter, heavy snows have to be removed to allow trucks to deliver food to the more remote villages. CRS pays impoverished men to clear these roads to allow aid to get through. This also allows people to travel out of the villages should they need medical care not available in their community.

 

In a mountainous part of Ghor province in Afghanistan, Catholic Relief Services pays teams of impoverished men to clear the Bayan Pass of heavy snow. (Photo by CRS staff)


Connecting Afghanistan is vital for moving the country forward. Something many of us take for granted, a simple road, can make a world of difference in Afghanistan.

Challis McDonough of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) recently wrote a story about Afghans in Dega Payan who were cut off from medical care for lack of a road. Two pregnant women had perished last year because they could not get to medical care which was five hours away by foot or donkey.

WFP started a Food for Work project to get a road built from Dega Payan to a larger village, Ziraki. This meant villagers could get rations to feed their families while working on a project that would change their community forever. Now instead of five-hour treks, they can reach Ziraki in half an hour by car.

Not only can people in Dega Payan now access medical care more quickly, they can also move crops to market more easily. Supplies from other towns now have a way to get in.

In northeastern Afghanistan, a villager from Dega Payan collects his food-for-work rations after helping build a road connecting two remote districts in Badakhshan province. (WFP/Challiss McDonough)

This is what Afghanistan needs. It’s basics like food, education, and roads. These things, taken for granted by many, are critical elements for the Afghan people’s development.

Agencies like WFP, CRS, the Aschiana Foundation, Save the Children, and others often face funding shortfalls for their projects in Afghanistan. If we want Afghanistan to succeed, we need to focus on strengthening these agencies’ missions. It is projects in partnership with the Afghan people, like Food for Work, that can lift villages out of poverty.

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About William Lambers

William Lambers is the author of several books including Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World. This book features over 50 interviews with officials from the UN World Food Programme and other charities discussing school feeding programs that fight child hunger. He is also the author of Nuclear Weapons, The Road to Peace: From the Disarming of the Great Lakes to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Open Skies for Peace, The Spirit of the Marshall Plan: Taking Action Against World Hunger, School Lunches for Kids Around the World, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, From War to Peace and the Battle of Britain. He is also a writer for the History News Service. His articles have been published by newspapers including the Cincinnati Enquirer, Des Moines Register, the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Buffalo News, San Diego Union Tribune, the Providence Journal, Free Lance-Star (VA), the Bakersfield Californian, the Washington Post, Miami Herald (FL), Chicago Sun-Times, the Patriot Ledger (MA), Charleston Sunday Gazette Mail (WV), the Cincinnati Post, Salt Lake Tribune (UT), North Adams Transcript (MA), Wichita Eagle (KS), Monterey Herald (CA), Athens Banner-Herald (GA) and the Duluth News Journal. His articles also appear on History News Network (HNN) and Think Africa Press. Mr. Lambers is a graduate of the College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio with degrees in Liberal Arts (BA) and Organizational Leadership (MS). He is also a member of the Feeding America Blogger Council.
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