CHAHAR ASYAB DISTRICT, Kabul Province – In a small bazaar between the Kabul–Logar highway and the Gulbagh bridge, a crowd of people are busy doing business. A concrete road passes through the bustling market, dividing it in two. Ehsnaullah, 40, owns a small grocery shop and has been working in the bazaar since he “understood the difference between his right hand and his left hand”, an Afghan expression for childhood.
Ehsnaullah, a father of six, has knee problems. He is happy about the 7.85-kilometer concrete road, which was rebuilt by the Afghanistan Rural Access Project (ARAP) in 2016. The improved road has eased his daily walk between home and shop. “Our road was in bad condition. Pools of water and mud in winter were the worst,” he says. “When the road was not paved, I commuted with so much difficulty from my home to the shop and back.”
ARAP’s support for paving the road has made it usable in all seasons, improving daily life for thousands of district residents.
The road eventually reaches Qalai-Jafar village, on the edge of Chahar Asyab district, more than 40 kilometers southeast of Kabul city. In a corner near Qalai-Jafar’s main mosque, a group of boys are happily playing football. Khalida, 36, glances at the scene as she walks by. “It was a big concern for us when our children were outside. We knew they would come back with dirty clothes. Most people used to ask their children to stay home and not go out. But hopefully, there are no worries anymore.”
She had herself fallen into a dirty puddle on the road and had been cautious about venturing out. “Before the road was paved, I was always afraid of walking out myself, because I had once slipped and fell down in dirty water,” she says. “All my clothes and vegetables became dirty.”
These issues have since been resolved by ARAP, which built a drainage system along the all-season road, maximizing the benefit to residents in this rural part of Kabul Province. Implemented by the Ministry of Public Works and Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development and coordinated by the Ministry of Finance, ARAP aims to bring similar benefits to rural communities across Afghanistan.
ARAP is a follow-on project of the National Emergency Rural Access Program and 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), managed by the World Bank on behalf of 34 donors.