Learn how the World Bank Group is helping countries with COVID-19 (coronavirus). Find Out

Skip to Main Navigation
FEATURE STORY November 12, 2018

Road Revamp Opens New Horizons for Afghan Villagers


View of recently asphalted 14.3-kilometer road that now connects over 24,000 Afghan villagers to essential services and markets in Northern Samangan Province. 

Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank


  • Until recently, thousands of villagers in a district in Samangan province had poor access to essential services and markets, which affected their incomes and quality of life.
  • Villagers now enjoy quicker access to facilities in the district and provincial centers as a result of the all-weather road built by the Afghanistan Rural Access Project.
  • The project is supported by the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund and the World Bank.

Feroz Nakhchir District, Samangan Province – Two hours of afternoon rain have washed the asphalted main road in Feroz Nakhchir district. Until recently, residents of this district in Samangan province in northern Afghanistan contended with a bumpy main road full of potholes. Although the road was repaired from time to time, repairs were no match for the floods in spring, which could wash away the work, sometimes leaving the road even worse than before. But the effect of today’s the rain is simply to make the road’s smooth surface shine.

Haji Fazlullah, 39, chairperson of the Community Development Council (CDC) in Feroz Nakhchir district says that residents faced many challenges before the road was asphalted by the Afghanistan Rural Access Project (ARAP) between 2014 and 2016. “Our agricultural products were damaged during transport because of the bumpy road and the transport cost was high,” he says. “Now that our road is asphalted we no longer have those issues.”

. The road project, which included building culverts and drainage in residential areas, was completed in about 18 months at a budget of 158.2 million afghanis (about $2.1 million). It was one of the biggest development projects in the district, says Mohammad Homayoun Barlas, mayor of Feroz Nakhchir district.

,” says Homayoun Barlas, who is hopeful for the future of the district. The road also has been elevated to alleviate flooding. “We are no longer concerned about floods and constantly reaching our destinations late. Our transportation problems have been solved,” he says, expressing gratitude for ARAP.

"Our agricultural products were damaged during transport because of the bumpy road and the transport cost was high. Now that our road is asphalted, we no longer have those issues."
Haji Fazlullah
chairperson, Community Development Council, Feroz Nakhchir district


After rehabilitation of Feroz Nakhchir road, transport costs reduced from 400 afghanis to 150 a trip to Samangan’s provincial center, Aybak, some 84 kilometers away

Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

Rural Communities Benefit

ARAP is implemented by the Ministry of Public Works and Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, and coordinated by the Ministry of Finance. It aims to benefit rural communities across Afghanistan by improving access to basic services and facilities through all-weather roads.

It is a follow-on project of the National Emergency Rural Access Program and is supported by the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), administered by the World Bank on behalf of 34 donor countries, and the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries.

The 14.3-kilometer all-weather road connects 34 villages with a total population of 24,000 to the Kabul–Mazar-e-Sharif highway and to the provincial and district centers. Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

Economic and Health Benefits

The asphalted Feroz Nakhchir road has improved the quality of life of locals, says Khan Murad, 55, a district resident. “In the past, particularly in the spring, our road was closed for many days due to flood damage. Until the next time people had a chance to repair the road, we had to carry our patients and goods by donkey.”

Khan Murad points out that the all-weather road is important for the district’s economy as residents earn a living through agriculture, particularly grape farming, and livestock, and require quick access to markets. . Farmers are now able to transport their products to the city markets quickly and sell them at better prices. “,” says Khan Murad

a trip to Samangan’s provincial center, Aybak, some 84 kilometers away.  

, such as health care, in the district center, about 7 kilometers away. Saifullah, 56, chairperson of the Sofa village CDC in the district, recalls the day many years ago when a villager lost her life because she could not reach the health center in time to give birth. He describes the past as a disturbing chapter of life for district inhabitants in which they experienced traumatic accidents on the road. But now, he says, the paving of the road has opened up a new chapter for them. “,” he says.