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FEATURE STORY

Rebuilt Road Provides Better Access to Basic Services

June 12, 2013

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Graham Crouch/World Bank

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Residents from five villages enjoy improved access to basic services thanks to a road that was rebuilt with help from the National Emergency Rural Access Project.
  • The project, supported by the World Bank and ARTF, aims to provide year-round access to basic services and facilities in rural areas to enhance the well-being of the population and promote economic growth.
  • It is better than before, says a resident of the paved road that replaced the dusty, pot-holed one.

NAWIN AND ENJIL DISTRICTS, Afghanistan – With little prompting, Mohammad Ghous lifts his shirt to expose a broad, barrel chest punctured by a prominent scar above his heart. “I am a warrior,” he growls. “We’ve been in control of this road for decades. We held off the Russians here, even though they shot me. But it wasn’t a big deal, maybe a few bad memories, but we’re going to keep things running here, no matter what.”

Today, Ghous is one of about 12,500 people who rely on a 13-kilometer stretch of paved road that runs between five villages, not far from the city of Herat in western Afghanistan.

But not long ago, the road was almost impassable. After decades of conflict and subsequent decay, it was a pot-holed problem that villagers complained about because it spread dust and mud on nearby crops, and hampered contact with city markets, hospitals and essential services.

It was only after community development councils (CDCs) from five villages got together, stretching from Nawin to Enjil district, that a road re-building project was launched. Funds from the National Emergency Rural Access Program (NERAP) were released to tackle the job in 2010.

Supported by the World Bank and Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), NERAP aims to provide year-round access to basic services and facilities in the rural areas. It also strives to enhance people’s well-being and promote economic growth.


" Now people can drive by and shop here. Things have improved since people can come and go to town and pick up all they need with ease.  "

Abdul Fatah

Shop Owner

Pleased With Roadwork

Since pavement and proper gutters were added, Abdul Fatah has built a grocery and butcher shop at the main junction where cars and donkey carts trundle down two forks in the road.

“Now people can drive by and shop here,” says Fatah. “Things have improved since people can come and go to town and pick up all they need with ease.”

Abdul Rahim, 75, who frequently visits his son, Fatah, at the crossroads and chats with passersby, says most villagers are pleased with the roadwork, although some complain that it is still too narrow in places.

“The problem always was that there was a lot of pollution from passing vehicles on this road, and a few say the concrete is already crumbling in spots,” says Rahim. “But still, it is better than before.”

Farmer Basir Khan says blind spots around sharp bends in the road had frequently caused collisions, but recent construction largely improved this situation.

Ghous said the latest progress is preferable to battles that once plagued the region.

“We have struggled a lot here, and things might not be perfect, but we will persevere.”


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