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Windmills Provide Inexpensive Water Source for Afghan Farmers

American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan, Jan. 19, 2006 – Coalition forces are installing windmills across southern Afghanistan to provide farmers with water 24 hours a day.

"Windmills for the farmers provide an easy energy source to a rural area," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Andrew Mazerik, a civil affairs officer with Task Force Bayonet of the coalition's Combined Joint Task Force 76. "There's not a lot of maintenance needed for the windmills, and this effort shows that the Afghan government is doing something for the people."

The program began with the installation of a test windmill at Kandahar Airfield three months ago. Two windmills were installed in Uruzgan Province shortly afterward, officials said.

More recently, village elders in Helmand, Kandahar and Zabul provinces met with their governors and local provincial reconstruction team commanders to decide where other windmills could best be used.

The first windmills in Helmand and Zabul provinces are expected to be operational within weeks. A total of 30 will be installed by spring.

Afghans who work for an American construction company, C&C, construct the windmills in Kandahar. They are purchased with Commander's Emergency Relief Program funds for about $15,000 each.

Farmers can use the windmills to power irrigation systems for crops, such as soybeans and wheat, while avoiding operating costs and maintenance problems of diesel-powered mechanical generators. They also share water with their neighbors.

"An entire village can be supported by the windmill," Mazerik said. "It works on gravity, and it depends on how big the holding tank is. A standard size windmill pumps 10 to 30 gallons per minute. It can supply a lot of water.

"They're a positive reinforcement and a beautiful symbol," he added.

(From a Combined Forces Command Afghanistan news release.)

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