Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan – New roads built in northern Afghanistan are benefiting almost 700,000 people by increasing access to basic services, providing jobs and promoting peace and stability.
The Road Access Improvement Project in the provinces of Samangan and Sar-e-Pul is being funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). In cooperation with the Ministry of Public Works in Afghanistan, UNOPS (the United Nations Office for Project Services) helped build the roads and cleared snow off six critical passes.
|Women of Samangan engaged in construction work
Since its launch in 2007, the project has completed 52km of gravel roads and conducted emergency maintenance of 14km of roads in Samangan, while constructing 20km of bituminous asphalt roads, 13km of gravel roads and three steel bridges in Sar-e-Pul.
“The new roads have really changed our lives. Now we can access schools, hospitals and markets easily,” said Mohammadullah, a farmer who participated in the project as a labourer in Khuram, Samangan. Before the roads were built, he only allowed his sons to attend school because of his family’s remote location, but with increased access his daughter has also started going to school.
The project provided temporary employment for approximately 8,000 people, particularly the vulnerable, and benefited an estimated 680,000 people. Both travel times and costs have been significantly reduced.
Mohammadullah added: “We have no problem going to work in Aybak (the provincial capital of Samangan) now and people are earning a lot. This also brings peace and stability in our district as people are busy and have no time to fight. Fighting comes when people have nothing to do.”
Local authorities and Sida have expressed appreciation for successful results to date. UNOPS is now focusing on continuing to support year round access to services and markets, through periodic maintenance of roads and bridge construction. These activities are scheduled to be completed in 2012.
You can access the press release here in English (in PDF), Dari (in PDF) or Pashto (in PDF).