Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Panjshir Valley: A model for reconstruction in Afghanistan

Despite the difficulties and violence many development teams face in Afghanistan, the Panjshir Valley, located 60 miles outside of Kabul, has been cited as a success story.

The Washington Post followed the U.S.-sponsored construction of a single road in the region, which then spawned even further development: the installment of a radio tower, a cellphone tower, plans for a wind farm, and a series of switchbacks.

Foreign reconstruction teams even travel throughout the region without security convoys, as the Taliban has not infiltrated this area.

“Panjshir is very much a model for the rest of the nation,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher J. Luedtke, commander of the region’s Provincial Reconstruction Team. “Security and good governance have provided development, because you can build something and know it will still be here” in the future.

The valley has also seen the construction of six 16-room schools, as well as changes regarding social taboos: men and women are now working alongside one another. Still, the long-term results may not ultimately manifest themselves for some time. “Women are really clamoring for education,” said Lt. Col. Michelle B. Atkins, 55, an Army reservist from Columbus, Ohio, who is the team’s deputy commander. “These women know there’s more out there, and they want it, and I see myself as offering it to them. But we’re at least a generation away from seeing the real impact.”

The Panjshir Valley’s success has been linked to the uniqueness of the region. A U.N. official attributes the success to its ethnic homogeneity and conservative values, as well as its remote location.

For the full article, click here.


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