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Residents Thrive after Kabul Neighborhood Facelift

August 13, 2015


As a result of the paved roads street food is less exposed to dust and business profits have increased.

Rumi Consultancy/World Bank

Story Highlights
  • Left almost untouched for almost half a century, the uneven dusty streets of a Kabul city neighborhood have been recently transformed into modern, paved roads with drainage systems.
  • Neighborhood residents attribute their better lives to the Kabul Municipal Development Program, which undertook the infrastructural improvements.
  • The program, implemented by the Kabul Municipality and supported by the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), aims to increase access to basic municipal services, support better service delivery, and enable a better response to emergencies.

KABUL CITY, Kabul Province – Standing on his store’s doorstep, Mohammad Naeem is admiring the newly asphalted road, and the shops and houses located on both sides of the street. A 50-year-old army veteran, he has lived since childhood in the Qala-e-Zaman Khan neighborhood in the southeastern part of Kabul city. The area, with its unpaved streets, is home to some 10,000 households. However, for more than a year now, Naeem has witnessed the roads being built and paved with asphalt.

“No one has worked on this road over the past 50 to 60 years in such a fundamental way. God bless the donors of this project who addressed our problem,” says Naeem.

Naeem, the eldest of a family of 10, opened a grocery store close to home 10 years ago, but the dust from the dirt road would always contaminate the food in his and other stores. “Much of our grocery would be spoiled by dust caused by fast-moving vehicles on this road before it was asphalted” he recounts.

Since the paving of the road, Naeem no longer has this problem and his income has doubled. “I used to make 4,000 to 5,000 AFN per month ($80), but now I make up to 10,000 AFN ($170) in a month,” he adds with a sense of satisfaction. The neighboring storekeepers also share his opinion that their increased profits can be attributed to the implementation of the Kabul Municipal Development Program (KMDP).                                                                                                                                                                              The infrastructural improvements in this neighborhood are being carried out under the KMDP, a program implemented by the Kabul Municipality. With a $110 million grant from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), KMDP will, among other initiatives, improve street conditions in neighborhoods such as the one in Qala-e-Zaman Khan. KMDP’s objectives are to increase access to basic municipal services in selected residential areas of Kabul city; redesign Kabul Municipality’s Financial Management System to support better service delivery; and enable early response in the event of a relevant emergency. 


The paved roads have increased access to basic municipal services and enabled early response in the event of an emergency.

Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

" “The asphalted road brought us other good things too. The neighborhood is safer now; our patients are more easily transported to the hospital and taxi fares are now cheaper.” "

Ahmad Reshad

Student, Qala-e-Zaman Khan neighborhood, Kabul city


A journey that used to take 15 to 20 minutes is now down to a 5 minute walk and students are in better health because the dust has been minimized.

Rumi Consultancy/World Bank

KMDP is expected to benefit over 770,000 people through services provided in some 1,770 hectares of government-owned land. So far, there have been more than 310,000 direct beneficiaries (over 100,000 from upgraded roads and more than 210,000 from trunk roads) and over 76,000 indirect beneficiaries, including students and staff of several schools and institutions of higher education. About three-quarters of the beneficiaries are women and children. In addition, more than 670,000 man-days of temporary employment have been generated.

To date, some 618 hectares have been upgraded, reaching almost 34 percent of the targeted area. Within a year of implementation, KMDP has delivered 13.17 kilometers (km) of trunk roads for $3.9 million and upgraded some 618 hectares of settlements for $15.6 million. The upgraded areas have benefited from the construction of some 77 km neighborhood roads, and about 121 km community drains. Works have been executed according to high standards, as the technical designs are subject to quality assurance and quality control procedures on par with international standards.

Better road conditions bring other benefits

According to Mohammad Nazir, 34, KMDP supervisor and design engineer, a total of 2,947 meters of road and streets in the Qala-e-Zaman Khan area have so far been asphalted and cemented. The project began in August 2013 and ended in July 2014 with a budget slightly exceeding $1 million, according to Nazir.  

Roads were widened 7 to 10 meters in different places, which included two meters on either side for pedestrian use and water drainage, explains Nazeer, who also stresses that residents’ cooperation was critical in implementing the project and changing the face of the Qala-e-Zaman Khan neighborhood. 

Qala-e-Zaman Khan residents say reconstruction of the main road and streets has helped them thrive in several ways. Ahmad Reshad, 12, a 6th grade student at the neighborhood school, recalls the times when he and his classmates had to walk through mud to go to school every day that led to them having to change clothes several times a day.

“The road was unpaved. Dust would spread in the air as a result of the moving cars. We would fall sick very often. Our way to school was long and annoying. It used to take us 15 to 20 minutes to go to school but now it is a 5-minute walk,” comments Reshad. Pointing at a police check post, he adds: “The asphalted road brought us other good things too. The neighborhood is safer now; patients are more easily transported compared to the past when some of them died on their way to the hospital. Taxi fares are cheaper. Previously, a taxi would charge $3 from downtown to here, but now that the road is asphalted, they charge just over one dollar.”