KABUL CITY – The sidewalks are full of pedestrians at rush hour, mostly girls on their way home from school. Amid this crowd, Shakila, 48, is walking toward a kindergarten with her young daughter. Her bright, colorful umbrella shields them from the glaring sun.
“Just a year ago, rush hour was incredibly dusty,” says Shakila, a kindergarten teacher. “I used to keep my children at home. Sometimes the air was so bad that even wearing a mask didn’t help.”
It takes her an easy 10 minutes to walk from her home in the Sarak-e-Azam area in Kabul’s district 11 to work every day. “It is good now, there is no dust and I can take my children out,” Shakila says.
Islamuddin, 28, another Sarak-e-Azam resident who has a grocery store in the area, is just as pleased with the change from the dirty, dusty streets. “The streets always used to smell so bad due to the standing water. It would waft into our homes,” he recalls. “It was shameful, especially when we had guests. Now, instead, our environment is clean and there is no standing water.”