Aid organisations return to Kunduz, sparking locals' hope for development

By Hedayatullah


Afghan women who were displaced by Kunduz fighting between Afghan forces and Taliban insurgents gather at a makeshift camp on the outskirts of Kabul October 19, 2016. Aid organisations that have left since then have begun to return to the province. [Shah Marai/AFP]

KUNDUZ -- Foreign and domestic aid groups have returned to Kunduz Province after they left when the Taliban captured the provincial capital in 2015 and 2016, local authorities say.

More than 100 domestic and foreign institutions shut down or moved their offices from the province after the Taliban briefly seized downtown Kunduz city on October 14, 2015. The Taliban did the same on October 18, 2016.

These institutions have begun reopening their offices, offering chances for employment and development.

"Since the beginning of the current year [2019], 66 local and foreign institutions, the activities of which are within the framework of the United Nations, have re-established their offices in Kunduz Province and have resumed their activities," said Esmatullah Muradi, a spokesman for the governor of Kunduz.


Afghans displaced by fighting in Kunduz between Afghan forces and Taliban insurgents walk at a makeshift camp in the outskirts of Kabul October 19, 2016. [Shah Marai/AFP]

The Kunduz governor is prepared to ensure security for these institutions, Muradi added.

"The organisations and institutions that have resumed their activities in Kunduz are mainly active in fields such as reconstruction, development, local governance, infrastructure, women's and children's rights, support for the disabled and strengthening of security forces" among others, he said.

The resumption of these institutions' activities will not only have a positive impact on the security situation but also provide jobs in various sectors for thousands of unemployed youth, Muradi said.

The governor has called on all development officials to assist those who have been impacted by natural disasters and war, he added.

A message of hope

The resumption of these institutions' activities will also mean that 150 infrastructure projects worth more than 2.5 billion AFN ($31 million) will be implemented this year in the provincial capital and other districts, according to Mohammad Taher Ruzi, director of Kunduz Province's economic department.

Such projects will provide more than 50,000 individuals with jobs, he added.

These projects include water dams, canals, riverside flood control installations and roads among other infrastructure in the provincial capital and the districts of Imam Sahib, Dasht-i-Archi, Qala-e-Zal, Khanabad and Chahar Dara, Ruzi said.

"The rates of unemployment and poverty in Kunduz are about 32% and 66%, respectively. Hence, these projects can help thousands of unemployed young residents find jobs and can save them from poverty," he added.

The role played by foreign and local institutions regarding poverty alleviation and the collection of local resources is significant, he said.

"Nearly 50 small factories are active and operating in the centre of Kunduz city, meaning jobs for thousands of unemployed young individuals," Ruzi said, noting the importance of the private sector.

"The government supports the private sector, and we are asking businesses to invest in Kunduz Province," he said.

Fighting poverty and instability

As such institutions return and bolster their activities, locals may see lower unemployment and poverty, development workers say.

"The Logo Institute works in co-operation with the Kunduz provincial government for the purpose of improving capacities, providing better services and monitoring and evaluating the strategic plan," said Hafizullah Rasuli, a representative of the institute.

The institute, in partnership with Kunduz officials, is planning to launch several development projects in 2019, he said, adding that the first few steps have already occurred.

By establishing "a municipality customer service centre, pouring concrete for a number of urban roads, creating a recreational park for women and providing three vehicles, we have helped the municipality solve residents' problems in a timely manner", he added.

"We intend to collect information on the priorities, necessities and problems of the population of Kunduz and take steps to resolve them," he said.

Insecurity has spurred poverty and unemployment among residents, and it is necessary for the government and aid institutions to create jobs, said Abdulmatin Zamani, a resident of downtown Kunduz city.

"Today, some Taliban members have taken up arms because of poverty and unemployment. They lay down their arms and start to work as soon as a project is implemented in their area," the 34-year-old said.

"The people of Kunduz unanimously call upon the government and charitable organisations to implement employment and job-creating projects in their regions," Zamani said.

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