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FEATURE STORY

Improved Rural Roads Raise Living Standards

March 18, 2015

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Haji Mohammad Akhtar, 74, is the head of the Community Development Council (CDC) of Gulshan. He recalls the poor conditions prior to the improvement project. “Both women and men held their clothes and trouser legs up trying to avoid the mud and filthy water in the streets. Women had chadors and head coverings, but they had to hold their trouser legs up out of desperation."

Rumi Consultancy/World Bank

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A road construction project of the National Rural Access Program (NRAP), carried out by the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, has improved citizens’ commutes—and for some, their livelihoods.
  • ARAP, supported by the World Bank and Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), aims to provide rural communities improved access to basic services and facilities through all-weather roads across Afghanistan.
  • In addition, the improved roads have attracted more families to move into these areas as well as increased commuter traffic, bringing more business to local shops.

FAZIL BIG, Kabul Province – Mohammad Reza, 40, is a hawker. Traveling street to street, he sells items ranging from children’s toys to women’s cosmetics from his handcart. Reza is a resident of Fazil Big, a neighborhood on the western outskirts of Kabul Province where he lives with his wife, two daughters, and son.

“I leave my house every morning and sell goods all day in the alleys and streets of Fazil Big,” he says. “Before the roads improved, the alleys were unpaved, muddy, and dusty. It was very difficult for me to walk and circle even one street a day. Now my cart moves very smoothly over the cemented surfaces and I can circle several streets every day.”

The paved alleys, part of a road improvement project, have greatly increased his earnings. “I used to make 100 Afghanis ($1.75) per day, but now I make more than 300 Afghanis. I am thankful that my life has improved,” he says.

“Through the project, streets and alleys were first pebbled, and then cemented in three different areas of Fazil Big: Gulshan, Charkhi, and the center of Fazil Big,” says Ghulam Rasul, ARAP Senior Engineer in Kabul. “In total we paved three kilometers of streets in the area.”


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Residents are using the newly built roads to travel and bring their goods to market. Shopkeepers often earn 60% more than they did before .

Rumi Consultancy/World Bank

" Now that we have our new streets, it feels like we have everything. "

Hajji Mehrajudin

Head, Community Development Council, Charkhi Village

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The project has so far constructed 732 kilometers (km) of tertiary roads and 825 meters of tertiary bridges has been completed. At the same time, maintenance of 3,139 km of tertiary roads and period maintenance of 237 km of tertiary roads have been completed.

Rumi Consultancy/World Bank

The road improvement project, which supported Reza’s neighborhood road rehabilitation, kicked off in early 2013, and was completed in June of the following year. The budget for it was provided through the Afghanistan Rural Access Project (ARAP) under the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD). ARAP, supported by the World Bank and Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), aims to provide rural communities across Afghanistan improved access to basic services and facilities through all-weather roads.

To date, construction of 732 kilometers (km) of tertiary roads and 825 meters of tertiary bridges has been completed. At the same time, maintenance of 3,139 km of tertiary roads and period maintenance of 237 km of tertiary roads were also completed.

We have everything

Haji Mohammad Akhtar, 74, is the head of the Community Development Council (CDC) of Gulshan. He recalls the poor conditions prior to the improvement project. “Both women and men held their clothes and trouser legs up trying to avoid the mud and filthy water in the streets. Women had chadors and head coverings, but they had to hold their trouser legs up out of desperation.

“It was virtually impossible to walk in these streets and avoid mud and dirt, regardless of the time of the year. And when it rained, mud and sludge would practically reach to our knees.”

Haji Mehrajudin, 65, head of the CDC in Charkhi village, agrees. “Vehicles also often got stuck in the sludge. And if we were ill and needed to visit a hospital, it would take an hour to get there on the old streets,” he adds.

Mehrajudin says that since the road improvement project, more families have moved to the Fazil Big area, and residents of neighboring areas are increasingly using Fazil Big’s streets to commute to their daily work, bringing business to local shops.

“As a result of this project, business for the local shopkeepers in Fazil Big has thrived,” Mehrajudin observes. “A shopkeeper who made 500 Afghanis yesterday makes 800 today. We are lucky the ARAP noticed the problems of Fazil Big. Now that we have our new streets, it feels like we have everything.”


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