Stabilization efforts give new lease on life to former insurgent stronghold
5 FEBRUARY 2012 | URUZGAN, AFGHANISTAN
The village of Sarah in Uruzgan Province was the scene of a fierce battle between coalition forces and insurgents in 2010. The battle liberated the village’s 10,000 residents, but decimated the village’s already limited and aging infrastructure, including the main bazaar. The bazaar is situated along the only road transiting from commercial centers in Kandahar and Uruzgan to distant villages in western Uruzgan. Historically, Sarah depended primarily on local and regional trade conducted at the bazaar to maintain its economic vitality. The loss of this essential marketplace during the insurgent occupation had a devastating impact on the local economy.
In an effort to rebuild this war-torn community and stabilize the isolated western region of Uruzgan, the Afghan government joined forces with USAID and its implementing partner, Central Asia Development Group, to rehabilitate the bazaar. In addition to the bazaar renovation, the project employed approximately 650 local laborers to restore the community’s irrigation and drainage systems, and repair roads, sidewalks and retaining walls. The village clinic, where insurgents executed 20 Afghan National Police during the occupation, was also converted into a school.
Together, these improvements have enhanced the quality of life and revitalized the economy in Sarah. At the new school, 120 students are learning to read and write Pashto and Dari. In the bazaar, nearly 25 new shops have already opened and business is thriving. “Before, we earned 275 Afghanis (around $6.00) a day,” reported one shop owner. “Now, we are earning 450 to 600 Afghanis each day.”
Given the village’s strategic location, this project is not only benefiting local residents, it is reopening trade between regional commercial centers and villages in the most remote reaches of the province.
Stabilizing a nation fractured by 30 years of war is challenging work. Such efforts involve securing hostile regions, restoring municipal infrastructure, and rebuilding economies. In rehabilitating the Sarah bazaar, USAID is helping the residents of this battle-weary village restore their way of life. This is a small step toward mending the wounds of war, but one that is giving hope for a more stable future to the people of Sarah.
Last updated: January 20, 2015