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Agencies Work to Rebuild Afghanistan

By Sgt. Jennifer S. Emmons, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

NIJRAB DISTRICT, Afghanistan, Oct. 1, 2004 – Villagers gathered to watch as the first stones were laid for the new road here during a groundbreaking ceremony Sept. 16.

The U.S. Agency for International Development is facilitating the project in partnership with the Parwan provincial reconstruction team.

"This project is very significant because it's not only the first project for the Parwan PRT in the Nijrab District," said Maj. Charles Westover, Parwan PRT commander, "but it's also the first project initiated and funded by the United States Agency for International Development."

The road-construction project is important because it runs through the business district in the heart of the city, said Michelle Girard, USAID representative. "We're hoping with a better road, the traffic will increase and there will be a good flow into the market area, and this will increase economic activity," she said.

The USAID representative lives and works with the soldiers of the PRT. Without the help of the military forces, the federal agency wouldn't be able to complete its mission, she said.

"The only way I can actually work and go out into these districts as frequently as I do is if I have some sort of force protection with me," said Girard. "The PRT allows me to go out, and it allows me to have high mobility. It allows me to do my job."

Throughout Afghanistan, USAID has a very large impact. It's not only developing infrastructure, but also contributing to capacity building, training, technical assistance, and the lawmaking process at both the national and local-provincial levels, said Girard.

"My projects on the PRT level are focused largely on (infrastructure reconstruction) projects such as bridges, roads (and) drinking-water projects," she said.

On a higher level, USAID brings a lot of expertise to the development portion of the PRT. "They bring a whole new dynamic to the PRT," said Westover. "The thing that is going to be successful for this country is to start developing some long-term infrastructure and economic rebirth of the entire country. They bring long-term developmental expertise at a much greater capacity than we have available to us."

Working together, the PRT and USAID are able to meet the goals agreed upon by the coalition and the Afghan national government.

"This is my first experience with working with the military and working with a PRT," said Girard. "It's been an eye-opening experience. I've learned a lot from how they work."

This road-construction project fits in with the priorities of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's administration, said Westover. "Over the past three years, Afghanistan, in partnership with the United States of America, the coalition and agencies like USAID, have helped improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of Afghans with projects just like this," he said.

"At the end of the day, the people (of Afghanistan) are going to benefit. They recognize the United States, the coalition (and) organizations like USAID are the ones who are the lead on these projects," Westover added. "That's who's going to be remembered. It's going to be the people working on those projects. We've started a legacy -- created a legacy for the future of the country."

(Army Sgt. Jennifer S. Emmons is assigned to the 17th Public Affairs Detachment.)

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U.S. Agency for International Development

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