Red Bulls patrol area around COP Najil

LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Capt. Jason Merchant, the company commander of Company A, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, Task Force Ironman from Dysart, Iowa, hands out cards Dec. (click for more)

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KAPISA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – A young boy signs road compensation paperwork with a blue-ink thumbprint to receive his family’s road compensation payment from shura members Sept. 29 at the Nijrab District Courthouse. Villagers affected by the development of roads in Kapisa Province have received payments ranging from $40 to $729. These amounts are significant in an economy where the average household income is $272 USD per month. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joe Laws, Kapisa Provincial Reconstruction Team Public Affairs)

KAPISA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Kapisa Provincial Reconstruction Team 08/11 and members of the Afghanistan Social Outreach Program shura (village assembly) of Nijrab District have paid road compensation to more than 1,200 villagers for damage to their shops, farmland, boundary walls and homes due to road construction since Sept. 22.

When the local population expressed dissatisfaction with previous attempts at road compensation for homes and shops that were destroyed so the road could be widened, Kapisa PRT and the Human Terrain Team re-initiated road compensation discussions during a meeting with 20 local farmers in April at Forward Operating Base Morales-Frazier.
“The lack of road compensation was decreasing the credibility of shura members as it relates to governance, creating a vacuum for insurgents to exploit as it relates to security, and also reducing forms of income and livelihood as it relates to development,” said Nicole Heydari, a graduate of Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and a member of the Human Terrain Team at the FOB.

The PRT’s civil engineers and civil affairs teams and HTT met with local leaders, villagers and Kapisa PRT road contractors. After conducting multiple assessments, the group reached a consensus that 0.5 percent of the road contractors’ total budgets for each road would be a sufficient amount to provide fair compensation, which would be overseen by the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development.

The PRT and HTT provided customized forms and office supplies to a group of shura members representing all roads and advised them on how to assess and categorize the damages.

Upon completion of the property damage assessments, road contractors and shura members met in August to discuss the final amount of compensation.  Values were calculated based on compensation already provided, 0.5 percent of each road contract’s budget, and relative types of damage.

Shura members, PRT, HTT, Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, and Task Force La Fayette’s Operational Mentor and Liaison Teams scheduled several paydays at both the Afghan National Police Headquarters near the Nijrab District Center and the ANP compound outside FOB Morales-Frazier to facilitate compensation to local villagers. Each compensation pay date ran smoothly with a 98-percent turnout rate for each road.

Abdul Latif, a 32-year-old Pashai farmer from Pachagan Valley, told HTT members the compensation money would help him rebuild his family’s damaged property and any left over money will be spent to help his family. “...there is no other way but this to compensate,” said Latif, speaking through an interpreter at the Oct. 6 payday.

Villagers affected by the development of roads in Kapisa Province have received payments ranging from $40 to $729. These amounts are significant for an economy where the average household income is $150,000 Afghanis per year, which equates to $272 USD per month, according to Sultan Mohammad Safi, the sub-governor of Nijrab District.

According to Article 40 of the Constitution of Afghanistan, “Acquisition of a person’s property, in return for a prior and just compensation within the bounds of law, is permitted only for securing public interests in accordance with the provisions of law.”

“Eminent domain payments are a huge step forward and speak volumes about the amount of progress made in governance in Afghanistan,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Curtis Velasquez, the Kapisa PRT commander and a native of Alexandria, Va. “They allow the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to take care of its people.”

HTT reports that roads have increased access to clinics and schools. Public safety has also improved as it is harder to plant improvised explosive devices on paved roads.

“In the end, this initiative is showing villagers that all these entities are working together to help governance, security and development in Afghanistan,” said Heydari.

KAPISA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Villagers from Nijrab District wait to receive compensation from the road contractor, after a verification process by shura members, outside the ANP compound in Nijrab District Sept. 29. Villagers affected by the development of roads in Kapisa Province have received payments ranging from $40 to $729. These amounts are significant in an economy where the average household income is $272 USD per month. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joe Laws, Kapisa Provincial Reconstruction Team Public Affairs)




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