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Insecurity, lack of cash threaten development projects

Worsening security has forced the closure of reconstruction and development projects in 11 provinces, including the volatile Helmand, Zabul and Uruzgan, according to officials.  Locals claim that insurgents have tried to divert resources intended for such
(Haroon Anabi/IRIN)

Lack of funds and increasing insecurity are slowing and sometimes halting the progress of projects by the National Solidarity Programme (NSP), a community-based country-wide development initiative, the government has said.



According to the Afghan Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD), the NSP requires another US$200 million to complete 20,000 small projects in the coming five months.



“We are planning to complete 20,000 projects by this September, but due to lack of funding and growing insecurity in different parts of the country we are concerned that we may not meet our deadline,” Wais Ahmad Barmak, deputy minister in the MRRD, told IRIN in Kabul.



NSP was created in 2003 by the MRRD to empower rural communities by helping them identify, plan, manage and monitor their own development projects.



Barmak said that since NSP’s establishment it had completed 28,000 projects in close to 30,000 villages across Afghanistan at a cost of nearly $600 million, with the money coming from various donor countries.



MRRD officials said that in the past six years hundreds of thousands of Afghans in rural areas had benefited from NSP projects, from dam reconstruction to bridge-building.



“Since NSP constructed a road between our village and the district hospital, we can now easily take our patients, especially pregnant women, to the healthcare centre,” Khan Mohammad, 36, from Jalal Khil village in Logar Province, southeastern Afghanistan, told IRIN.



Mohammad remembered times when pregnant women and sick children lost their lives making the four-hour trek to the nearest clinic.



Insecurity



Growing insecurity has also forced the closure of NSP reconstruction and development projects in 40 of Afghanistan’s 364 districts in 11 (out of 34) provinces, particularly in the volatile provinces of Helmand, Zabul and Uruzgan, MRRD officials said.



The Afghanistan NGO Safety Organisation (ANSO) in its Quarterly Data Report Q.1, 2009 released on 10 April said violent attacks had increased by 38 percent from February (381 attacks) to March (527 attacks) 2009. It said aid organisations had been the victims of 37 serious security incidents in the first quarter of 2009 (up 19 percent on the same period in 2008). Two people had been killed and 20 abducted.



ANSO and NSP warn that the worsening security situation will further impede humanitarian and development services in large swathes of the country this year.



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This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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