In southern Afghanistan, it took as little as repairing a road to dramatically change a life
30 JANUARY 2013 | KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN
“The road was in terrible condition and I couldn’t get to the bazaar without falling over,” recalls Abdul Malik. He is wheelchair-bound – the result of an insurgent bomb attack four years ago – and until recently, he found it hard to make his way from home to the tiny shop he rents in Arghandab in Afghanistan’s southern province of Kandahar.
He relied on friends and neighbors to negotiate the harrowing daily commute, but even their help proved inadequate to the challenges of the uneven, potholed road. The community sought action from the authorities, and in response the Kandahar municipal government partnered with USAID to repair the road. The project also aimed to improve access to local schools, mosques and residential areas. It took more than 600 local skilled and unskilled laborers to lay gravel and repair 20 km of roads.
Abdul Malik’s life changed dramatically. He no longer needs an escort and he is more mobile than ever before. “Now, I can go to and from work on my own. I don’t need anyone to push me,” he says. “I also have the freedom to travel far from my shop to buy supplies. I could not do this before.”
He adds that the road project has been a boon to many and in many different ways. “Before, there were many jobless youngsters and they would sit in front of my shop and bother me and my customers. When the project started, all of them were hired as laborers. Now they spend their earnings in my store.”
Last updated: February 20, 2015