Afghan woman announced as a winner of the 2013 N-Peace Awards

Masouda Karokhi

Afghan women’s rights advocate Masouda Karokhi was announced as one of the eight winners of the 2013 N-Peace Awards, the N-Peace Network announced on their Facebook site today. According to their website, the N-Peace initiative and the Awards campaign are managed by the UNDP Asia Pacific Regional Center (APRC).  “The awards recognize and profile women leaders and peace builders creating change at the grassroots to national levels in Asia.” “Even during the worst times for women in Afghanistan, Masuada Karokhi remained an unwavering activist for women’s rights”, the organization has posted on their website. Despite receiving death threats from extremists, Masuada Karokhi continued her work for the advancement of Afghan women’s rights, even providing secret classes for poor girls and women during the rule of the Taliban. “Not one to mince her words, she has spoken out against ‘the culture of fraud and electoral abuse’, the lack of implementation of the Constitution, and political violence against women”, the organization added. Karokhi and other 7 were chosen out of 90 nominated candidates from Afghanistan, Indonesia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste and the Philippines. The award will be officially given to Karokhi in a special ceremony scheduled for October of this year.

July 31, 2013   Posted in: Human Rights, Women's Rights  Comments Closed

ACCI: Afghanistan’s exports up 40%

Afghanistan’s Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) announced on their website today that the country’s exports have increased by 40%, compared to the same period last year. Last year, in the first quarter, the exports stood at $64 million, and this year, it’s at $100 million. The ACCI said that the increase has been due to the “reduction of natural plant diseases, favorable climate, increase in harvesting fruits, and better circumstances of trade transit with neighboring countries”. Most of Afghanistan’s exports are carpets, dried and fresh fruits, vegetables, chemical plants, animal products, cereal, and cotton. These are exported to such places as Pakistan, India, Central Asia countries, Iran, Russia, China, Europe, Canada, Australia and the Gulf Countries. Afghan officials are optimistic that the numbers will increase, especially with the increased use of the Chabahar port in Iran.

July 29, 2013   Posted in: Afghanistan's Economy  Comments Closed

Over a thousand families in Parwan now have access to electricity; Afghans start use of Iran’s Chabahar Port

Afghanistan’s Bakhtar News Agency (BNA) reported today that a power transformer was inaugurated on Saturday in Charikar, the capital city of Parwan province that will provide 1,100 families with access to electricity. The transformer was installed by the Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) power company. The local residents expressed happiness over the project, reported BNA. Mohammad Zarif, a resident said they had to use lantern and gas lamps previously. “We are happy our electricity problem has been resolved.”

In other news, Afghanistan officially started the use of Iran’s Chabahar Port on Saturday. Afghanistan had previously signed an agreement with Iran to use the port so that Afghans can export goods like saffron, fruits, carpets, and other items to India, Central Asia and Europe. Thanks to this new agreement with Iran, Afghanistan is now not dependent solely on Pakistan’s Karachi port for its exporting needs. The Iranian port can also be used to import goods from India, something the Pakistanis would give Afghanistan a hard time about. Overall, this new agreement will have a very beneficial impact to Afghanistan’s economy.

July 28, 2013   Posted in: Afghanistan's Economy, Reconstruction and Development  Comments Closed

July 26, 2013 Round Up: Good News Reports from Afghan Media

Government officials from Afghanistan’s northern province of Balkh announced earlier this week that thanks to plans implemented by the government, there has been a 50% decline in the crime. “This year, crimes such as murder, robbery and kidnapping have reduced by over 50 percent. It is a big achievement for the Balkh police department,” said Abdul Razaq, a provincial security official. – Tolo news

Thanks to financial assistance from the United States, a free medical treatment drive has been launched in precincts 6 and 13 of Kabul for families that cannot afford private health facilities. The program provides services in the fields of gynecology, maternity and internal diseases. The medicines are also provided free of cost. – Ariana News

A big conference will be held in Kandahar province aimed at luring foreign and local investments, Afghanistan’s Finance Minister Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal announced yesterday. – Pajhwok Afghan News

Construction work on streets within the Industrial Park of Pul-e Charkhi in Kabul started on Wednesday, July 24th. According to the Afghan Investment Support Agency (AISA), the project will cost about US$6 million and will be completed in two years. – 1TV

Earlier this week, the World Bank granted US$12.5 million to Afghanistan’s Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs so it can be used to modernize the pension system and assist needy families in the provinces.- Shamshad TV

July 26, 2013   Posted in: Afghanistan's Economy, Health News, Reconstruction and Development, Security in Afghanistan  Comments Closed

Afghan Governor Receives Prestigious Award

Governor Habiba Sarobi

Afghanistan’s female governor of Bamyan province, Habiba Sarobi, has been awarded the Ramon Magsaysay award, the foundation announced in a press release today. The award is named after a Philippine president, who died in a plane crash in 1957. According to the foundation, he was a president, “who was well-loved for his simplicity and humility, his passion for justice, particularly for the poor, and his advancement of human dignity.”

The foundation said that Sarobi was given the award for “her bold exercise of leadership to build up a functioning provincial government against great odds—intractable political adversities, a harsh and impoverished environment, and pervasive cultural discrimination—serving her people with a hopeful persistence grounded in her abiding commitment to peace and development in Afghanistan”

Habiba Sarobi was appointed as Afghanistan’s first ever-female provincial governor on March 2, 2005 by President Hamid Karzai.

July 24, 2013   Posted in: Human Rights, Women's Rights  Comments Closed

New school buildings to be built in Khost and Jowzjan provinces

Special foundation stone laying ceremonies have been held in Khost and Jowzjan provinces, an official from Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education announced today. In the eastern province of Khost, an agricultural high school building is expected to be built in 6 months at a cost of 13,007,000 afghanis. The funding for the project will come from the Word Bank. Once completed, the school building will have 16 classrooms, 8 administrative rooms and 4 bathrooms. Meanwhile in northern Jowzjan province, a middle school building will be built in 8 months in Shibergan at a cost of 5 million afghanis. The money will come from the education ministry’s budget. Once completed, the building will have 8 classrooms, and 5 administrative rooms. As new school buildings are built, less Afghan students will have to study in tents or in the open air.

July 23, 2013   Posted in: Education, Reconstruction and Development  Comments Closed

Roads and bridges to be built in 5 Afghan provinces

In an effort to further improve Afghanistan’s infrastructure, Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Works announced road and bridge building projects in 5 different provinces yesterday. The projects which will be funded by the world Bank at a cost of 358 million afghanis will be completed by provide Afghan companies.

Specifically, a 28km road in Kunduz, a 60km road in Badakhshan, and a 48 km road in Bamiyan will be constructed. Furthermore, a 68 meter bridge in Baghlan, and a 160 meter bridge will be built in Khost province. The projects which are expected to be operational within one year will have a very positive impact to Afghanistan’s economy, education, and security.

July 23, 2013   Posted in: Afghanistan's Economy, Education, Reconstruction and Development, Security in Afghanistan  Comments Closed

More Afghan women joining police force in Herat

Female trainee

More and more women are signing up to join the police force in Afghanistan’s western province Herat, according to a special Xinhua report today. “Two years ago, only three women enrolled in the police training center; but up to now, 300 women have finished training and joined the police force in Herat and several dozen are receiving training here at the moment,” Colonel Mohammad Ibrahim, commander of the provincial police training center told Xinhua.

The women undergo a six-week program to learn how to use equipment and weaponry. They are also taught self-defense as well as Afghan laws. “Serving the nation is not only the job of men. It is also our obligations to serve our country. We are determined to do so,” a trainee told Xinhua.

July 22, 2013   Posted in: Security in Afghanistan, Women's Rights  Comments Closed

Afghanistan unveils new incentives to investors

Afghanistan's Minister of Finance, Omar Zakhilwal

In an effort to attract new investors and prevent current investments from leaving Afghanistan, a new package of incentives were announced today by Afghanistan’s Ministry of Finance, according to an AFP report.

Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal, Afghanistan’s Minister of Finance told reporters that “the goal of this policy is to support investment in different sectors, especially in industry, construction, agriculture and mining”. The AFP reported stated that the incentives include providing land at almost no cost to industrialists, seven-year tax exemptions for factory owners, 10-year, low-interest loans for farmers, and one-year, multiple entry visas to foreign investors.

The new policies will remain in place for two and half years, the AFP reported added.

July 21, 2013   Posted in: Afghanistan's Economy, Reconstruction and Development  Comments Closed

July 19, 2013 Round Up: Good News Reports from Afghan Media

Yesterday construction started on a road from Pul-e-Sokhta to the Darulaman area in the sixth precinct of Kabul. The project will cost $11 million and will be funded by Turkey. It is expected to be completed in 10 months. – Ariana News

South Korea signed an agreement with Afghanistan’s Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation (MoTCA) on Monday to support the building of an efficient transport system for Kabul city. The project will start post-2014 and is estimated to cost $1 billion. – Tolo News

Two power transformers were inaugurated in Kabul’s Khairkhana area on Monday. This will provide 1000 families with electricity. Officials from the Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) power company said that almost all residents will have electricity in the next 2 years. DABS is planning on investing 2 billion Afs to expand electricity networks to all areas in Kabul. – Shamshad TV

An official from Afghanistan’s National Museum said on Thursday that the traveling Bactrian Treasures of Afghanistan exhibit has earned the country $3.5 million. The treasures which consists of 231 types of historical objects, including 3,000 sculptures have been seen by more than 3 million people in various different countries over the past 7 years. – Pajhwok

July 19, 2013   Posted in: Cultural Heritage, Reconstruction and Development  Comments Closed

Program to boost of role of women in Afghanistan

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced that they will launch a $200 million program to boost the role of women in Afghanistan. Furthermore, with international support such as Australia, Japan, and the European Union, that number could be doubled, according to USAID. The program is called “Promote” and will help women between the ages of 18 to 30 find jobs, provide training for those interested in policymaking, and provide credit and microfinance to support women entrepreneurs. According to an USAID representative, the program wants to create more than 3500 small businesses to help generate domestic growth. Since the overthrow of the Taliban, while things are still far from perfect, life for most women have dramatically improved. They now have the right to vote, work, get an education, and even participate in politics.

July 18, 2013   Posted in: Afghanistan's Economy, Human Rights, Job Creation, Women's Rights  Comments Closed

Reports: Paktika, Herat and Logar schools to get buildings

Pajhwok Afghan News (PAN) reported today that an official from Afghanistan’s southeastern province of Paktika said that forty-six school building will be constructed during the current year in the province. The buildings will be constructed at a cost of $11 million, per the PAN report. Funding from the project will come from the ministries of education, counter-narcotics and finance. Paktika’s provincial governor, Mohibullah Samim told PAN that the buildings are being built specifically for schools in which the students are currently studying in the open air or under tents.

In other education news, five buildings for schools in Herat and Logar provinces will also be built this year, according to a PAN report last week. The buildings in Afghanistan’s western province of Herat are being built in the Farsi, Kuhansan, and Pashtun Zarghon districts. The project is expected to be completed in six months. Finally, in Afghanistan’s central Logar province, the two buildings will be built in Pul-e Alam, Logar’s capital. The project is expected to be completed in five months.

June 24, 2013   Posted in: Education, Reconstruction and Development  Comments Closed