Small Wars Journal

Afghan Perception & Stagnation in Transformational Changes

Sat, 10/29/2011 - 7:14am

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This paper will examine progress in the development of Afghanistan’s infrastructure from an Afghan perspective.  The development of infrastructure is critical to building the Afghan government’s legitimacy and ability to provide basic services for its people.  Although 77% of the Afghan population lives in rural areas, the focus of infrastructure development is largely in urban areas.     While funding and the number of road projects have increased, road production decreased by almost 60% over three years, 2007-2010.   In comparing road production to funding, production decreased by 1% for every 12% increase in funding.  Considerable efforts are on-going to make Afghan agriculture a viable source of revenue, but irrigated land decreased by 18.5% during this period.  If this trend continues, irrigated land would reduce to approximately 10,000 Km2 by 2014.   This would hinder efforts to make licit agriculture a viable part of the Afghan economy and reduce illicit agriculture such as marijuana and poppy.  Improved drinking water access is also an issue.  Only about 20% of the rural population has access to improved drinking water.   Electricity is essential for strategic communication, especially since the majority of the population lives in rural areas, because it opens more communication options and methods.  In a 2010 survey, 66% of the Afghans interviewed said access to electricity was bad.   Only 42.2% of Afghans have access to electricity according to a 2007-2008 study.  The same study found only 32.5% of the rural population has access to electricity.   This falls short of goals outlined in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s National Development Strategy (ANDS).   Increasing trends in the number of school students are heartening, but the number of teachers remains relatively steady.  The result is an increasing student to teacher ratio, which was 43 to 1 by the start of 2010.  Extension of this trend would result in a ratio of near 60 to 1 by 2014.  Setting clearly defined goals, both quantifiable and qualitative, for progress in each area is one of many ways these issues could be addressed.  Following the assessment and reporting requirements outlined in the ANDS would also help address these issues.

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About the Author(s)

Danny Pedersen served as Field Artillery Officer in the United States Army from 2002-2011.  During this time, he served with: 4-7 CAV at Camp Garryowen in S. Korea; 4-27 Field Artillery and 1-6 Infantry, 2nd Brigade, 1st Armor Division in Germany and Iraq; HQ 101st Airborne Division, 2-506 Infantry and 4-320 Field Artilley, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division at FT Campbell, KY and Afghanistan; 4th Battlefield Coordination Detachment with 33d Fighter Wing at Eglin AFB and Afghanistan.