For example, a tree plantation drive is currently in process in Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul. According to a report yesterday (February 25, 2015) from the Bakhtar News Agency (BNA), a campaign is underway to plant one million saplings in Kabul. Kazem Humayun, an official from Afghanistan’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stressed the need for greater participation from every day citizens in the success of these sort of campaigns.
Also, according a to report yesterday from the Afghanistan Times, a two-week campaign has been launched by Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) to reduce the use of disposable plastic bags in the country. ¬†According to the Afghanistan Times report, 500 billion plastic bags are used annually in Afghanistan, and they contribute to various types of pollution (air, water & soil). Eventually, this pollution leads to negative effects on people‚Äôs health. Ahmad Jan Naeem, the Deputy Minister of Public Health was quoted as saying: ‚ÄúThrough this campaign our teams will try to create awareness in [the] public about [the] harms of using plastic and [the] pollution caused by it. The teams will also distribute reusable cloth bags to create [a] culture of using non plastic bags in the country. Citizens will also be told to dispose plastic-made items properly.”
Afghanistan’s Bakhtar News Agency (BNA) reported that a new building for the Ahengran Girls School in Ghor province was inaugurated earlier this week. The $130,000 project was funded by the Japanese government and UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). According to the BNA report, the building has 8 classrooms, 3 administrative rooms, and other educational facilities that will serve more than 400 students.
Meanwhile, in Afghanistan’s western province of Farah, BNA reported that two schools that were closed due to a series of problem were reopened earlier this week. The education department of Farah province reopened the Naw-Bahar Primary School, and the Rokey Girls High School. Education officials said the reopening was in part due to the cooperation of local elders and leaders in the province.
While not perfect, there has been major improvements in the area of education in Afghanistan. According to US agencies, the Afghan government, and UN sources, school enrollment alone went from around 1 million to 8.7 million from 2003-2013.
The World Food Programme (WFP) reported today that the government of South Korea will contribute $12 million to the organization so that the first soy milk factory can be built in Afghanistan. WFP will work with an organization called Nutrition Education International (NEI), a non-governmental organization (NGO), to build the factory in Afghanistan’s northern province of Parwan.
The factory will produce protein-rich, sterilized soy milk from soybeans to help reduce malnutrition in the country. The WFP report added that the “residual soybean pulp from the milk-making process will be turned into chicken feed. This feed will be provided to vulnerable local women to encourage them to raise poultry to generate income”.
Cha Youngcheol, the Korean ambassador to Afghanistan said that “the Korean Government hopes the soy milk factory and chicken feed project contribute to Afghanistan‚Äôs reconstruction by supporting farmers and women to become more productive and by improving the nutrition of the Afghan people.‚ÄĚ The factory is expected to be operational in 12 months.
The Upper House (Meshrano Jirga or House of Elders) of Afghanistan’s parliament awarded medals to Afghanistan’s U19 (Under 19) cricket team yesterday. Chairman of the Meshrano Jirga, Fazel Hadi Muslimyar, also presented an appreciation certification to the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) officials.
The team had come in first place in the recently held ACC (Asian Cricket Council) U-19 Premier League tournament. With this title, Afghanistan’s U19 team will now compete in the ICC (International Cricket Council) U19 World Cup in Bangladesh in 2016. Furthermore, the team had also defeated rival Pakistan 2-1 in their U19 tour in October.
The medals and certificates were given to the players and officials in a special ceremony held in the Meshrano Jirga Hall. ACB Chairman Shahzada Masood referred to the young players as “peace ambassadors, and said he believes the team will once again bring honor to the nation when they compete in the 2016 U19 World Cup.
Thirty-six playgrounds will be built in Afghanistan’s central east province of Maidan Wardak, according to a report today from Pajhwok Afghan News (PAN). Attaullah Khogyani, the spokesman for Maidwan Wardak‚Äôs provincial governor, told the news agency that 46 million Afghanis will be spent to construct these playgrounds. He added that they will be used for volleyball, football (soccer), and cricket games. The playgrounds will be built in Maidan Shar, the capital of the province, as well as in the districts of Syedabad, Nirkh and Jalrez. The work is expected to be completed in 3 to 4 months, according to the PAN report.
In other news, Khaama Press reported today that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has pledged $216 million for a women’s empowerment program in Afghanistan. According to the report, the program’s main goal is to boost female participation in Afghanistan’s economy. The program aims to provide better opportunities for Afghan women, so they can obtain leadership roles in both the political and private sectors.
At the annual Tibetan Carpets International Exhibition, two Afghan carpet companies (Qadir Rauf Ltd & ¬†Kazimi Allahdad Ltd) were awarded for achieving excellence in design and quality. A third company (Baig Brothers) was declared the best participant in the exhibition.
The event was held from August 6th to 11th in Tibet City, China. According to Afghan officials, around 150 countries had participated in the event. Fifteen companies participated just from Afghanistan. The event which is considered the only international handmade carpet exhibition in China, brings together carpet makers from different countries under one roof.
Afghan officials announced that that the Afghan companies managed to secure exporting contracts with foreign companies during the exhibition amounting to US $1 million. Najila Habibyar, the head of Afghanistan’s Export Promotion Agency told the Afghan media that the export of Afghan rugs and carpets to global markets including the United States, Germany and China has increased by 21 percent recently. This number is expected to grow further as the Afghan carpet and rug industry grows.
Yesterday, Pajhwok Afghan News (PAN) reported that two new 50-bed hospitals were inaugurated in Afghanistan’s north-eastern province of Kapisa. The hospitals are both in the provincial capital, Mahmud-i-Raqi. One is a maternity hospital, and the other will serve as a drug rehabilitation facility. Per the PAN report, funding for the projects came from Afghanistan’s Ministry of Counter-narcotics.
In other good news, Tolo news reported earlier in the week that a new center dedicated to teaching the Korean martial arts of Taekwondo was established in Kabul’s Afghan-Korea Vocational Training Institute. The $60,000 project was funded by the South Korean government, according to the Tolo news report. Abdul Rahim Alizai, one of the trainers at the institute, stated that the center would be ‚Äúhelpful in developing Afghanistan‚Äôs Taekwondo,‚ÄĚ adding that there is a need for similar initiatives in other provinces as well. More than 200 students will train at the center.
Construction work on a bridge started yesterday in Afghanistan’s Baghlan province, according to the Bakhtar News Agency (BNA). According to the BNA report, the new bridge, which is expected to be 12 meters long and 4 meters wide, will be built in the Qandahari village of Pul-e-Khomri city. It should be completed in 9 months, BNA reported. With this new bridge, transportation problems faced by the residents of Qandahari village as well as other neighboring villages will be resolved.
In other good news, the residents of central Bamiyan province are celebrating as construction has been completed on three new school buildings. According to the Pajhwok Afghan News (PAN), the construction of the school buildings were funded by the government of Japan. An education official told PAN that one of the schools has eight classrooms and four administrative rooms, one has eight classrooms and eight administrative rooms, and one has 12 classrooms and eight administrative rooms. A student told PAN, “We are happy to have a proper building now. Earlier, we used to study in the open”.
Residents and officials from Afghanistan’s northern province of Kunduz told the Pajhwok Afghan News (PAN) today that Malaria has been completely eliminated in the province. PAN reported that over the past 6 months, no positive cases have surfaced. ¬†Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease that is caused by a parasite, and it is a major public health problem in Afghanistan as it threatens the health of millions of people. Afghanistan is prone to malaria due to its climate, poor waste management, and other environmental factors. Residents told PAN that the cases of malaria in Kunduz dropped due to mosquito nets distribution and awareness programs.
In other health news, Afghanistan’s Bakhtar News Agency reported yesterday that a polio vaccination program has started in eastern Nangarhar province. The 3-day program is expected to vaccinate thousands of children under 5 years of age. Polio is a highly contagious viral infection that can lead to paralysis and/or even death. While the disease has been eradicated in the western world, it’s still an issue in Afghanistan mostly due to its importation from neighboring Pakistan.
Afghanistan defeated Nepal today to win the 2014 ACC (Asian Cricket Council) Premier League tournament. The 50 overs, round-robin event had started on May 1st in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and involved 7 teams: Host country Malaysia, Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Nepal, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
In the Nepal vs. Afghanistan final match, Nepal won the coin toss but chose to field first. Afghanistan scored a total of 262 runs in 49.3 overs. Both Usman Ghani and Hashmatullah Shaidi each scored 51 runs for Afghanistan. Interestingly enough, Ghani had been scoring well throughout the whole tournament, and was even given the “Batsman of the Tournament” award. When Nepal came up to bat, they managed to score only 128 runs, and lost 9 wickets. Afghanistan ended up winning the match by 108 runs (Duckworth‚ÄďLewis method).
Afghanistan lost only lost one match in the whole tournament, and that was to host country Malaysia, which finished last in the tournament. Afghanistan finished with the best record, 4 wins, 1 loss, and a total of 8 points. Both Nepal and Afghanistan will now move on to the Asian Cricket Council Championship, scheduled later this year.
ÔĽŅÔĽŅAt least 80,000 women in Afghanistan’s north-eastern province of Badakhshan were provided with vocational training, according to a report yesterday from Afghanistan’s Bakhtar News Agency (BNA). The women were provided with formal training on such fields as livestock raising, handicraft, and raising honey bees. The goal of the education project was to help make the women in this area more economically independent and improve their standard of living.
In other education news, BNA also reported that a new building for the Hazrat Abuzar Ghafari Primary School was inaugurated in northern Takhar province a few days ago. According to the BNA report, the new building has 8 classrooms and four administrative rooms. The school was built at a cost of $261,000, and was funded by the German government.
Last night, in a star-studded event held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Afghanistan’s national cricket won the Laureus “Spirit of Sport” award. The Laureus World Sports Awards are viewed by many as sort of the “Oscars of sports”. It is held annually to celebrate the greatest achievements in the world of sports. Afghanistan’s national cricket team was given the award this year for their swift rise in the world of cricket. In the past 12 years, the Afghan team went from almost nothing to being a major player in international cricket. So far, the team has qualified for the one-day World Cup, as well as for 2 successive World T20s. A Laureus press release stated that “Afghanistan’s success on the pitch has, indeed, captured the imagination of the whole cricketing world”.
The award was officially accepted by the CEO of Afghanistan’s Cricket Board (ACB), Noor Mohammad Murad. Murad said that, “We are very proud to receive the Spirit of Sport Award, it recognizes the hard work of players, officials and administrators over the past 12 years in building cricket in our country.” He added that “Cricket is more than a game in Afghanistan. It is a tool which is making an impact in the development of peace, unity and development.”