12 May 2007

PR# 2007-366

Afghanistan takes government to the people

ZABUL PROVINCE, Afghanistan – A landmark shura for villagers to discuss issues facing their community took place in the small town of Shahjoy April 30, when more than 350 people gathered in the courtyard of a non-functioning boys school here. 

The gathering was the largest of its type in many years and enabled government officials to engage with the people of this small, remote village.

At the request of Zabul province Gov. Delbar Arman, directors of the ministries of education, public health, water and energy, rural rehabilitation and development, irrigation, public works, and the governor’s Afghanistan Stabilization Program traveled from Qalat to interact with the people of Shahjoy.  Each director spoke to the crowd, describing their work in the province as a whole and, specifically, how it relates to residents on an individual basis within their community.

“This Shura went better than anyone hoped,” said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Fischer, U.S. Air Force, Provincial Reconstruction Team Qalat commander.  “Today we witnessed grass-roots governance…a critical step for an independent Afghanistan.”

The governor said this is the template he wants to spread to all districts.  Additionally, after hearing the people’s request for schools, the director of education worked with local residents to open three schools in three days, thus facilitating educational opportunities for another 1,800 children in Shahjoy.

The villagers expressed concern for better security to facilitate government workers for critical construction projects since Taliban threaten progress in the area.   The provincial directors urged locals to support the police and army as these organizations must set the foundation for a secure Afghanistan.

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/