By Sgt. Kimberly HackbarthNovember 27, 2012
FORWARD OPERATING BASE MASUM GHAR, Afghanistan - Local Afghans in Panjwa'i District now have better access to markets and a safer way to travel as district leaders officially opened the Salahan-Demrasi-Muhajerin Road in Salahan, Afghanistan, Nov. 25, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Soldiers of Combined Task Force 4-2 (4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division), attended the ceremony and interacted with their new partners, including the leaders of the District Development Assembly shura council.
David Brantley, a field program officer with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), also attended the road opening and said the project was important to locals.
"For the first time the people along the road have better access to their markets," Brantley said. "Until now they really didn't have a road for their tractors or trucks to take produce to market."
USAID provides many forms of support to foreign countries including the development of agriculture, education, and economic growth.
Approximately two and a half months ago, where the road now lies used to be nothing but a donkey trail that would get washed out whenever it rained, Brantley explained.
The workers added gravel for more stable ground for vehicles headed to and from the local marketplaces.
Allowing nearby villagers an established road was just one of the benefits of the project.
"It was also important because it employed, at times, as many as 500 workers from the surrounding villages and it put (money) in the pockets of the villagers," Brantley said. "So it's an economic development thing also."
According to Brantley, the projects are a part of the Community Development Program under USAID.
Brantley and other USAID members meet with district governors and with the DDA to discuss different possibilities for projects.
Projects are rank ordered based on which projects are most important for Afghan development, but also which projects fit into Central Asia Development Group (CADG) standards.
"One of the requirements of CADG to do the programs is that their staff and the project will be secure," explained Brantley. "There is a process they go through to get guarantees of security from the villages or it may be from Afghan Local Police to secure the projects."
CADG has been doing similar projects in Panjwa'i for the past three years, he said.
During a DDA shura council meeting following the ribbon cutting, Haji Naik Mohammad, the leader of the shura council, reassured his latest American partners from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., that he was ready to work with them.
"I am right beside you to help you specifically on the development projects," Mohammad said through a translator. "I'm working here beside the district governor to make sure there are more development projects implemented here for Panjwa'i."