Checking out Afghan school
Nangarhar Provincial Reconstruction Team members cross a foot bridge over a canal to conduct a quality control check at Amerkhil Boys and Girls school, March 5.

NANGARHAR, Afghanistan, March 21, 2011 -- The Nangarhar Provincial Reconstruction Team completed a two-month assessment March 14, of previously constructed facilities in the province.

The massive undertaking reviewed 47 projects in the province to include schools, roads, canals and other various facilities, said Tech. Sgt. Charles Burgess, Nangarhar Provincial Reconstruction Team, or PRT, civil engineer.

The review required approximately 15 missions from the PRT, said Burgess, in addition to missions by the Nuristan PRT and trips by local Afghan employees working for coalition forces.

Overall, Burgess said he believes the facilities in Nangarhar are being used as intended and maintained to the best of the Afghans' abilities. In fact, many of the buildings face maintenance issues stemming, not from neglect, but rather from overuse, a promising sign that the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and coalition forces have successfully identified areas where vital services are needed by the Afghan people.

"I think a lot of the issues in the schools stem from overuse," Burgess said. "Maybe we shouldn't deal with desks but rather ask the Afghans if we can put thick carpet down for their kids to sit on. That will help a little bit with overcrowding and they can put more kids in their room."

According to Air Force Staff Sgt. Scottie T. McCord, Nangarhar PRT photographer and information operations noncommissioned officer in charge, the team will take the assessment results back to the Afghans.

"We took all the pictures we had gathered and put them into about 25 [slide] presentations broken up by geographic location and subject matter," McCord said. "We plan on using these presentations to show the Afghans the current state many of their buildings are in. We'll then work together with them to make repairs and come up with a solid plan to ensure this doesn't happen again."

The project review is a pivotal step toward fulfilling the PRT's strategic goals for their rotation. Prior to deploying, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Anderson, Nangarhar PRT commander, briefed his team on the importance of sustaining past projects.

"We cared enough to do something because there is a need," Anderson said. "We spent American tax dollars and the assumption is once we build it, the problem's solved. That's just not good enough. If the problem's not solved, then we're probably worse off than before."

At the most recent Provincial Development Council meeting Feb. 23, members of the government expressed their displeasure with the lack of sustainment many of their buildings had. Former Deputy Gov. Mohammad Alam Ishaqzai was particularly vocal about his discontentment with the state of affairs.

"There are so many things we have built, but we don't maintain them," Ishaqzai said. "We have schools with broken windows. We have clinics that cost American tax dollars we don't use."

Ishaqzai appointed a special delegation consisting of members of the Provincial Development Council during the meeting to create a plan to address this issue.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16