Frontlines Online Edition
Afghanistan/Pakistan
December/January 2011

2010—The Year in Review

A local farmer picks up his supply of seed and fertilizer as part of a voucher distribution activity at Badam Bagh Farm in Kabul A local farmer picks up his supply of seed and fertilizer as part of a voucher distribution activity at Badam Bagh Farm in Kabul, Afghanistan. Robert Sauers, USAID

January

USAID sponsors Afghan participation in Domotex—the premier international carpet trade show, featuring some of the best internationally produced hand-made carpets and kilims. For three years, USAID's role in promoting Afghan carpet dealers has generated millions of dollars in exports.

February

The U.S. and Afghan governments sign a memorandum of understanding to train Afghan civil servants to improve the delivery of government services. The one-year, $84 million program will train up to 4,000 civil servants in Kabul and 12,000 more over the next two years in all 34 provinces. Training focuses on five core public administration functions: financial and project management, human resources, strategic planning, and procurement.

March

Salam Watandar, a USAID-funded Internews media service, launches a new Pashtu-language television channel targeting audiences in south and east Afghanistan. The service offers news, current affairs, and cultural programming in two 90-minute peak-hour blocks. In addition, the first 22 Kabul Education University students receive master's degrees in education.

Fact Box

  • Population: 29,121,286 (July 2010 est.)
  • Percentage of people living below poverty line: 24% (FY05/06 est.)
  • Main development challenges: Despite gains toward building a stable central government, a resurgent Taliban and continuing provincial instability—particularly in the south and the east—remain serious challenges for the Afghan government.
  • As the world's largest producer of opium, Afghanistan's poppy cultivation remains at a historically high level. The Taliban and other antigovernment groups participate in and profit from the opiate trade, which is a key source of revenue for the Taliban inside Afghanistan.
  • Widespread corruption and instability impede counterdrug efforts. Afghanistan is extremely poor and highly dependent on foreign aid, agriculture, and trade with neighboring countries.
  • Much of the population continues to suffer from shortages of housing, clean water, electricity, medical care, and jobs.
  • Crime, insecurity, weak governance, and the Afghan government's inability to extend rule of law to all parts of the country pose challenges to future economic growth. (Source: CIA World Factbook)
  • Main assistance sectors: Agriculture, infrastructure, health, education, democracy and governance, economic growth, and stabilization
  • Year USAID began its current program: 2002 (Source: USAID)

April

USAID hands over the National Women's Dormitory at Kabul University to the Ministry of Higher Education. The dormitory will provide safe and secure living space for 1,100 women and girls. Around the same time, another 40 midwives graduate from the Hirat Institute of Health Sciences. USAID trained midwives to help the country address what is estimated to be the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world.

May

After their shops and inventory were destroyed by insurgents earlier in the year, 81 shopkeepers at the Foroshgah-e-Borzorg Shopping Center in Kabul receive USAID grants ranging from $2,000 to $4,000.

June

Responsibility for the 105-megawatt Tarakhil Power Plant is officially transferred to the Afghan government. Completed on May 31 by USAID, Tarakhil has the capacity to provide electricity for up to 600,000 residents in Kabul whose houses are connected to the North East Power System.

July

The Agricultural Development Fund is established through a $100 million USAID grant to the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock to lend to financial and non-financial intermediaries, who in turn will lend the funds to farmers for agricultural inputs to expand production. Kabul University officially opens a herbarium, providing Afghanistan a new research tool for studying the country's vulnerable botanical heritage.

August

The USAID-sponsored National Civil Society Conference in Kabul brings together more than 150 government officials, parliamentarians, and representatives from the media and civic and international organizations to discuss civil society progress and challenges. In addition, the Kabul Women's Farm Service Center opens as one of seven centers in Afghanistan, the only one tailored for women farmers. More than 10,000 Afghan women will benefit, and the center will offer high-quality seed, fertilizer, animal feed, tools, machinery, greenhouse supplies, and other products.

September

On Sept. 18, Afghanistan holds the first Wolesi Jirga (parliamentary) polls since 2005. At stake are 249 seats in parliament in the country's first Afghan-led parliamentary polls since the fall of the Taliban. According to the Independent Election Commission (IEC), approximately 4.3 million Afghans cast valid votes. These elections, although marked by substantial levels of fraud and operationally limited by high levels of insecurity in certain parts of the country, mark a positive progression for the institutional independence of Afghanistan's electoral bodies, the IEC, and the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC).  The IEC is Afghanistan's body mandated to conduct free and fair elections and referendums; the ECC is the country's ad hoc independent body (made up of three Afghan and two international commissioners, one from South Africa and the other from Iraq) charged with adjudicating election-related complaints. USAID supports both institutions, and additionally funds over 400 observers (295 Afghans, 142 internationals). The observers cover 32 out of 34 provinces on election day. In total, over 6,000 Afghan observers are mobilized to monitor all provinces.

October

The 2010 national wheat seed distribution begins for the first of 260,000 farmers in 31 provinces, funded through USAID's Afghanistan Vouchers for Increased Production in Agriculture project. Local farmers receive vouchers entitling them to significant discounts on and access to certified wheat seed and fertilizer in an effort to improve the quality and production of Afghanistan's wheat. USAID also helps organize an agricultural fair at the Badam Bagh Farm in Kabul to build awareness of Afghanistan's agricultural sector, to link buyers and sellers, and to boost sales of Afghan products nationally and internationally.

November

On Nov. 24, the IEC announces parliamentary election results for 34 out of 35 constituencies (33 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces plus the Kuchi constituency). Certification for one constituency (Ghazni) is deferred by the IEC.  USAID continues its support to both the IEC and the ECC throughout the process.

December

On Dec. 1, the IEC certifies the Ghazni province results, concluding the certification of the 2010 Wolesi Jirga elections results. Also in December, the Obama administration publishes an annual review of its military strategies in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In Afghanistan, the administration references an "urgent need for political and economic progress" to match what is described as significant military success in offensives to clear Taliban strongholds in the southern part of the country.

Last updated: July 23, 2014