Cablegate: Prt Kunduz - Kunduz City's Informal Settlements

DE RUEHBUL #3240/01 3580339
R 230339Z DEC 08




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Since 2001, a number of informal settlements have
sprung up around the Kunduz City's old urban core. Made up of
returnees, internally displaced persons (IDP) and people simply
attracted to the opportunities in the big city, these settlements
vary in the level of amenities and organization. The city
government faces the challenge of incorporating these settlements
into its overall planning process. USAID's Land Titling and
Economic Restructuring Activity (LTERA) project, in cooperation with
municipal authorities, is providing the first step to integrating
these settlements into the broader community. However, the city
government appears more focused on developing its high profile "New
City" than on addressing the informal settlements. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Property and land ownership rules in Kunduz Province have
been enforced in the past by a mixture of informal village dispute
mechanisms, local strong-man appropriation and, occasionally,
government regulation. Kuchi migrants, for example, have used
traditional wintering sites for generations. During the Mujahadeen
period, five competing commanders carved Kunduz City into spheres of
influence, raising money by appropriating and selling off the
properties of families who had fled abroad. The Taliban era brought
more stability as appropriations ceased and some families returned
to reclaim their inheritance. After 2001, many people returned to
Kunduz from exile abroad or migrated from more remote areas of the
Northeast to the traditional regional capital, reportedly doubling
the size of the city. As people fill the city, two competing
visions of urban growth have emerged.

Local Officials See the Future in Kunduz "New City"
--------------------------------------------- ------

3. (SBU) The official city government's plan promotes the "New
City," located on a plateau to the south of Kunduz's city center and
near the airport, the PRT and other coalition facilities. Despite
the lack of water, energy, paved roads and other utilities, the
government has already sold or otherwise allocated plots to favored
homesteaders, government ministries and businesses. Sites for
parks, bazaars and other amenities are also laid out. While there
are few completed residences in the "New City," a variety of
ministries are already operating out of newly built offices. While
a 3.9 million euro German government-sponsored potable water project
supplying deep wells, pumping equipment, distribution network and
water storage currently targets Kunduz's traditional old city, water
needs in the "New City" will continue to be met by individual wells
for the foreseeable future. Arguing that the PRT and airport need
multiple paved roads to access the city, Kunduz City Mayor Wahed
Aziz and Governor Omar have strongly lobbied western development
agencies to finance a road through the "New City" to the airport and
PRT. To demonstrate their commitment, the city government has
already taken the initiative to begin paving the road leading from
the old city to the plateau. Local officials also place priority on
providing the site with energy and potable water.

"Regularizing" Feyzabad and Rustagabad

4. (SBU) To the east of the plateau lie two of Kunduz's five new
informal settlements, Feyzabad and Rustaqabad. Together, the
satellite towns contain about 3000 plots for an estimated 35,000
people. The points of origin of the settlers are reflected in the
names of the settlements, with Feyzabad populated by ethnic Tajiks
from Badakhshan Province and Rustaqabad settled by a mix of Pashtun,
Tajik, Hazara and Uzbek settlers from Takhar Province. Though
lacking paved roads, electricity or centralized water supply,
Feyzabad and Rustaqabad were clearly well thought out by the initial
settlers and community leaders. The towns feature well-laid,
unpaved roads, shops, open park areas and plots set aside for future
schools and meeting houses. Other satellite towns around Kunduz,
such as Kalamanori and Saki Bori, were more ad hoc in their growth
and may prove more difficult for city government to manage and
service in the future.

5. (SBU) USAID's LTERA program, in cooperation with the Kunduz City
Government, is taking the first steps in "regularizing" Feyzabad and
Rustaqabad by mapping the plots and surveying families. The city
government can then issue certificates of pre-ownership that will
eventually be recognized by the courts. In parallel, the LTERA
project is working with the courts to organize and digitize Kunduz's
land deed records. It is expected that families will ultimately pay
local government around $1 per square meter for the legalized
allotments, most of which are around 400 square meters. Throughout
the summer, the LTERA team met with community leaders to explain the
project and get local buy in. LTERA reports that community
expectations are high that with tenuring will come city utilities
and services, such as potable water. In the shuras, local elders

KABUL 00003240 002 OF 002

also expressed their primary hope that the tenuring process will
result in greater security and protection by the local government.

No Comprehensive Plan to Absorb Kunduz Growing Numbers
--------------------------------------------- ---------

6. (SBU) Noting the population of Kunduz has nearly doubled in the
past decade, Mayor Aziz admits the municipality has few resources
and no "comprehensive plan" to effectively manage the increasing
number of returnees and IDPs. Without such a plan, he says, it will
be impossible to absorb more returnees. He therefore sees the
utility of the LTERA mapping and survey project, noting that with
tenuring comes increased tax revenue for the city. Aziz would also
like to see the archive project extended to include the city's 5000
property records in order to unify the information in both court and
municipal documents. He believes this will create transparency.
When LTERA's Feyzabad and Rustaqabad projects are completed next
year, some of the project's equipment will be turned over to the
city government so that its newly trained staff may continue in
Kunduz's other satellite towns, further increasing municipal

7. (SBU) COMMENT: With its relative stability, rich agriculture and
crossroads location, Kunduz City will likely continue attracting
settlers in the years ahead, further straining the city's ability to
absorb the added population. By providing land security, the LTERA
program goes a long way to bringing these communities formally into
the municipality, which - in turn - promotes economic growth.
Future development projects focusing on the settlements' further
integration into the municipality would also increase such capacity.
However, with the mayor and local authorities focused on the
sparsely populated, though presumably lucrative, "New City," the
informal settlements and their swelling populations will continue to
be an afterthought and their needs neglected.


© Scoop Media

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