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PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Officials from the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, including the Paktya provincial governor, district sub-governors and line directors, gathered for a Provincial Development Council meeting at the governor’s compound, March 15.
Representatives from the Paktya Provincial Reconstruction Team, the 245th Agribusiness Development Team and the U.S. Department of State also attended to discuss important development issues with their GIRoA partners.
Juma Khan Hamdard, the provincial governor, opened the meeting by congratulating his fellow Afghans on a new year and shared his wishes for success.
“I want this year to be a safe year and a year of peace,” said Hamdard. “I also hope this will be a successful year for the Director of Economy. Line directors have submitted their budgets to their ministries. I hope you all get your money and spend it on good things.”
The Director of Economy, Mahfoz Ahmad, explained the process for submitting project proposals and stressed the importance of working through the ministries in Kabul.
“Every line director should be creating proposals and sending them to their line ministers,” said Ahmad. “We must increase our opportunities for getting money and projects for all directorates.”
One of the major issues addressed during the meeting was the need for higher quality work for development projects.
“Money is being spent on projects, but the quality of work is not good,” said Mohammad Ali Sha, the director of the provincial council.
The PRT commander, Air Force Lt. Col. Marchal Magee, of Issaquah, Wash., addressed this issue by explaining the progress being made in the project approval process.
“We have taken a new path on our partnership with our government officials and Afghan security forces to ensure better quality of work on projects throughout the province,” said Magee. “We are completely inclusive in making sure we bring them along on all of our missions that fall along their particular lines of effort. We are also working to include the district sub-governors and village elders so they have an opportunity to have their voices heard and to have projects reflect the needs of their communities.”
Officials also brought up the need for female dormitories at Paktya University. The deputy chancellor of the university said more women have been interested in attending the school and they are expecting 500 to 600 more female students over the next year, but they do not have the necessary housing.
The director of labor and social affairs, Abdul Samad Muslih, discussed his proposal for expanding vocational training in the province and the positive effect it will have.
“The community will get great benefits from this training,” said Muslih.
The director of education presented ideas for new schools, as well as older schools that are in need of repairs, and the director of agriculture, irrigation and livestock, Lelah Zadran, informed the group about all of the new vegetation that will be planted throughout the province in the coming months.
“This year in Paktya Province, we will have more than 4,000 gardens planted,” said Zadran.
According to U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Jeff Chavannes, of 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 34th Infantry Division of the Iowa Army National Guard, from Des Moines, Iowa, there will be over 10,000 trees planted throughout the province, as well.
“Our goal is to have the trees planted for Nowruz, the Afghan New Year,” said Chavannes.
According to the PRT commander, the event demonstrated the progress being made by Paktya government officials.
“The Provincial Development Council meeting today was a huge step in the right direction to start the New Year off on a good note for our GIRoA partners and to bring much-needed good news to the people of this province,” said Magee.
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