Build a Sidewalk, Save a Business

Mechanic Bashir Ahmad in his shop, which he says is doing better business than ever before.
Mechanic Bashir Ahmad in his shop, which he says is doing better business than ever before.
A USAID project to re-build sidewalks in commercial centers in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan has saved shops that were closing due to lack of customers
After four months without a net income, mechanic Bashir Ahmad decided to close his shop in Kandahar City. It was late 2011 and Bashir said he could no longer afford to rent the shop. “I pay rent from my own pocket. It is very difficult.” But just as he prepared to close his doors for the very last time, Bashir learned of a municipal development project that was about to begin in his neighborhood. USAID and its implementing partner, the Central Asia Development Group (CADG), were coordinating with the local authority to rebuild sidewalks and drainage ditches in several districts of Kandahar City. As luck would have it, the sidewalks in front of Bashir’s shop were to be rebuilt.
Today, Bashir says business has improved. “The sidewalk in front of my place is clean, and customers don’t have a problem to come anymore,” he says. “The other good thing,” he adds, “is that the project gave jobs to hundreds of young people who had no work. Now they spend their wages in the shops on our street.”
Bashir’s story might be a template for that of hundreds of shopkeepers around Kandahar City. USAID and CADG have rebuilt 435 square km of sidewalks and 180 km of drainage ditches in commercial centers in and around Kandahar City.
This has facilitated year-round customer access to shops, which were served till then by dirt tracks that were dusty in the summer and pools of stagnant water in the winter.

Last updated: January 20, 2015

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