Afghanistan-a peek into the diary (15)

February 2006

Good news-the old mayor is back in office and so we can make progress again with finalising the scope of works. There is still great enthusiasm for building a new slaughterhouse but I still don’t see how that project can go ahead: there are not many slaughter houses in Afghanistan, and so coming up with a suitable design will be a challenge. Then there is the issue of location: the new site now being proposed by the mayor is miles away from town, reachable only via a dirt track and, more significantly, is separated from town by the river. Incidentally, I witnessed two people crossing the river in a very resourceful way. Every day brings me fresh examples of just how creative and resilient Afghans are.

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Anyway, how can we ensure proper construction at such a remote site? How will meat get safely from there to the market? Who will cover the running costs for the place be covered and hygiene standards ensured? No-one can currently answer my questions in that regard and often, I get the feeling that officials are surprised that I even want answers to such questions-perhaps they do not want to think that far ahead?

Similarly frustrating is the progress in regards to the access centre for disabled people. I am just so worried that the local director cannot confirm that the ministry will fund the running costs…..I would hate to see something built which cannot function. So many flawed projects like that are implemented by well- meaning aid agencies. I do not want our programme to fund and deliver one of them.

I am much more at peace about our other projects. The drain channels in the town centre and near the market are so horribly blocked and inefficient, such a threat to health and hygiene, and shop owners say that the smell from them and the fact that they are so difficult to cross deters their customers…….for this reason, both the mayor and the engineers are proposing a covered design. Not my area of expertise, so I am glad my line manager is an engineer and is overseeing the technical side of the designs. I would feel a bit out of my depth with that. I cannot wait for work to start……the slow progress has been frustrating us all a bit, as we are already almost 5 months into a 1 year construction project, and no work has actually begun. I wonder when the funds for the project will actually hit UNDP’s bank accounts……donor and UN administration are truly astonishing animals!

dirtty drain which UDG will also work n running along the market site