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FEATURE STORY

All-weather Roads Bring Tangible Improvements to Rural Communities in Daykundi Province

February 7, 2017

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The road, which is due to finish by the end of 2017, is being widened and paved, ensuring safer travel conditions in Daykundi Province.

Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy / World Bank

Story Highlights
  • Road rehabilitation projects in Daykundi Province are having a significant impact on the lives of villagers through improved access to essential facilities and markets, lowered transport costs, and increased employment opportunities.
  • More than 120 kilometers of roads in the province will be rehabilitated by 2017 under the Afghanistan Rural Access Project (ARAP), improving mobility and living standards.
  • Villagers in this mountainous province can look forward to year-round access to healthcare services and essential goods through the all-weather roads.

SHAHRISTAN DISTRICT, Daykundi Province – An elderly man, with dusty shoes, walks along the rocky road, carrying a package on his back. The road twists around the mountain, amidst views of mud-brick houses. On occasion, vans pass along the road, over loaded with passengers. In some parts, the road is still under construction, workers and machines gravel and pave busily.

Construction of the Shahristan-Nili Road has improved access to facilities for nearby villages. Villagers now access markets, healthcare services, and other destinations more easily, safely, and quickly. “Before the construction of the road, we had to travel 30 hours to reach Kabul,” says Mirza Hussain, 47, head of the Tagablor Community Development Council (CDC).  “Now we can reach Kabul in 18 hours, and traveling is easier.”

Tagablor village is located in the Shahristan district of Daykundi Province in central Afghanistan. Since 2014, a private construction firm, tendered through the Ministry of Public Works (MoPW) under the Afghanistan Rural Access Project (ARAP), has been rehabilitating the third phase of the Shahristan-Nili Road.

The road, which is due to finish by the end of 2017, is being widened and paved, ensuring safer travel conditions. “We have seen a dramatic decrease in car accidents because the road is wider and its surface is smoother,” says Mirza Hussain. “Two years ago, when the road was not smooth and wide, four people were killed because their car fell off the road into the valley.”

ARAP is a follow-on project of the National Emergency Rural Access Program (NERAP). It is supported by the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries, and the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF). ARAP aims to benefit rural communities across Afghanistan by improving access to basic services and facilities through all-weather roads. The project is expected to increase the number of people living within 2 kilometers of all-weather roads, reduce travel time to essential services, and enable rural communities to access these services frequently.


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Young girls make their way home from school. Construction of the road has improved access to essential facilities such as schools and hospitals.

Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

" A few years ago, our road would close for five months because of snow and floods. “Now, many of those problems are resolved and people are able to travel during the winter. "

Mangal Hazarah

Resident, Tagablor village, Daykundi Province

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The cost of transportation and travel has reduced significantly since the implementation of the road rehabilitation projects.

Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy / World Bank

Lower cost of transport

Work in Daykundi started in 2003 under NERAP and the support is being continued through ARAP. The project has implemented or is in the process of implementing 31 road rehabilitation projects in the province. More than 120 kilometers of road will be rehabilitated by the end of 2016, connecting Nili, the provincial capital, to Bamiyan, a neighboring province.

Before the implementation of the road rehabilitation projects, the cost of transportation and travel was very high in the province. Trucks charged 60 afghanis to transfer seven kilograms of goods to Kabul, and 2,500 afghanis to take a passenger. Since road conditions have improved, prices have dropped by more than half. Now, trucks charge 25 afghanis to transport goods, and 1,300 afghanis for a passenger.

The fall in prices has significantly impacted the local economic situation and mobility of people and goods in the province. “In the past, I bought a bag of flour for 1,600 afghanis,” says Amir Mohammad, 35, a resident of Shinya village. “Now, I buy a bag for 1,300 afghanis, and I can spend the remaining 300 afghanis on other needed materials. This has really helped me to better manage my life.”

Agriculture is the biggest source of income for the majority of Daykundi’s population of about 450,000. The newly graveled roads connect Daykundi’s farmers to local and national markets, enabling them to arrive more quickly and to preserve the good condition of their products. This has allowed the farmers to sell their products at better prices than before. “I used to sell seven kilos of almonds for 600 afghanis,” says Sayed Hussain, 57, a farmer from Sayed Abad village. “Now, we sell seven kilos of almonds for 900 afghanis. Farmers are happy and thankful for the project.”

Creating local jobs

The many projects implemented by ARAP have created hundreds of employment opportunities for laborers in the province. “Since ARAP projects started, 150 laborers from the villages are working on one project or the other,” says Mirza Hussain. “Before this, most of them had to travel to neighboring countries to find work. Creating local jobs has helped reduce poverty and minimize migration to big cities in search of work” he adds.  

The road rehabilitation projects have enabled many villagers to access essential services even during the winter months when inclement weather proves an obstacle. “A few years ago, our road would close for five months because of snow and floods,” says Mangal Hazarah, 40, a resident of Tagablor village. “Now, many of those problems are resolved and people are able to travel during the winter.”

Nonetheless, there are still many challenges in Daykundi Province. Given its mountainous terrain, the roads are impassable in poor weather conditions. It remains difficult and time consuming to reach Kabul quickly for high quality, emergency healthcare. At the same time, prices of transportation and raw materials increase, which villagers often struggle to afford. 


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