Without Infrastructure, No One Wins By Dr. Tina Dooley-Jones, Mission Director at USAID/Afghanistan, June 2021

Infrastructure is the lifeblood of families, communities, districts, and provinces. From rural areas to urban centers, it is quite literally a system that touches all of us.

Water infrastructure, like water treatment centers and pipes, carries clean drinking water to our homes and businesses. Dams and irrigation canals are a necessity for farmers to feed the country. Power plants and transmission lines light our homes and workplaces, safely store our food, and charge our cell phones and other electronics. Telecommunications towers allow all corners of Afghanistan to integrate with the global economy. Quality roads and highways allow us to visit our loved ones who live across town or on the other side of the country, and they help move goods and services that we all need from one place to another. Hospitals take care of our sick family members while schools give all Afghans a space to learn.

To say the least, we need infrastructure to survive.

Recently, however, we have seen infrastructure destruction across this country. In May alone, we saw a whirlwind of devastation. Thousands of families in Kabul experienced blackouts when 20 electricity towers were destroyed. A bridge on the Kabul-Jalalabad Highway was blown up, debilitating travel for residents in Surkhrod, Khogyani, Sherzad, and Hesarak Districts.

All this happened over the course of just one month. Similar stories are all too familiar in places like Baghlan, Ghazni, Helmand, Herat, Kunduz, and Wardak, impacting countless communities and disrupting lives.

Destroying infrastructure helps no one. Doing so only creates untold suffering.

The Government of Afghanistan knows we all lose when the lights go out, when people cannot move from one district or province to another, or when parents cannot send their children to school because the building no longer exists.

I would be remiss if I did not applaud the self-sacrifice and the courageous efforts of Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) engineers and technical crews to relentlessly repair and restore power in the shortest time possible. The Afghan government, alongside the brave repair crews, has worked hard to quickly restore and rebuild damaged infrastructure—sometimes within a single day. When an energy tower in Zendajan District in Herat Province was destroyed in October 2020, DABS repaired the tower and restored electricity the next day. This shows the government’s commitment to bringing critical services to the people of Afghanistan, especially during this challenging time.

The government is working to build a 5.8-kilometer paved road in Kabul’s Deh Sabz District that will connect Khwaja Chashat Road with Allah Gul Mujahid Madrassa. Funded by the government, reconstruction of the three-kilometer Ajmer Canal in Pul-e-Khumri is now complete. Its turbines can generate eight megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 10,000 homes in a year.

The government has also successfully engaged the private sector to complete water reservoirs, canals, and irrigation systems most recently in Khost, Paktia and Laghman, supporting thousands of households dependent on water for livelihoods.

I thank the Government of Afghanistan and recognize all the engineers, operators, drivers, and repair teams for their dedication to bringing the immense benefits of reliable infrastructure to the people of this country. Without infrastructure, no one wins. With infrastructure, Afghanistan and her people can move forward to achieve their immense potential.