Cablegate: Ghor: More Development Could Prevent Insurgent Threats

DE RUEHBUL #3845/01 3360637
R 020637Z DEC 09




E.O. 12958: N/A

SUBJECT: Ghor: More Development could Prevent Insurgent Threats

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Located in central RC-West, the province of Ghor
is one of the most isolated and underdeveloped in Afghanistan.
While not at the center of the insurgency, Ghor suffers from the
influence of warlords, transient youth who mingle with the
insurgency in bordering provinces, and lack of capacity. If not
addressed now these issues could create a void easily filled by the
insurgency. Its current stable security situation makes Ghor a
good candidate for more innovative assistance programs that will
build a sustainable future for the province. END SUMMARY.


2. (U) Ghor is an underdeveloped, mountainous, rural province that
is relatively stable and secure, boasting a mainly Tajik population
estimated between 600,000 and 800,000. Illiteracy runs at roughly 80
percent, with the same percentage of the population engaged in
agriculture, farming and animal husbandry. The absence of paved
roads increases Ghor's isolation, especially in winter. Electricity
in Ghor is limited to four hours a day in the capital of
Chaghcharan. Several dozen villages are the beneficiaries of
micro-hydro projects constructed by the National Solidarity Program
(NSP) along with the Lithuanian and Icelandic governments.

Ghor Stable for Now

3. (SBU) Ghor's current stability should not be taken for granted.
Locals attribute the situation and easing of tribal conflicts since
2005 to the establishment of the PRT and its regular patrols. Prior
to 2005, however, armed conflicts between Ghor's three main warlords
caused the governor's office to change hands four times in two
years. In June 2004, local commander Salaam Khan attacked
Chaghcharan and removed Governor Ibrahim Malekzada and ANA Commander
General Ahmen Khan Morghabi. The fighting left almost 20 residents
of Chaghcharan dead. These three warlords, who still hold sway in
their respective regions, profess to support the Government of
Afghanistan, though it appears this support is contingent on the
Government's continued non-interference in their local affairs.
Current U.S. Assistance to Ghor

4. (SBU) Since 2002, USAID has spent USD 27.03 million in Ghor and
the U.S. military (mainly building ANP headquarters throughout the
province) about USD 10 million. USAID funds have been disbursed
mainly in agriculture (USD 2.07 Million), alternative development
(USD 2.35 Million), education (USD 1.51 Million), health (USD 6.14
Million), PRT (USD 6.17 Million), democracy and governance (USD 8.06
Million) economic growth (USD 0.24 Million), and program development
(USD 0.49 Million).

Innovative Programs Are Needed

5. (SBU) Increased development activities in Ghor will build the
government's capacity; help it penetrate the districts and help
break the province's isolation. Areas with potential for increased
development include the following:

-- Alternative Livelihood, Agriculture and Livestock Management:
While Ghor is deemed a "poppy-free province", as recently as 2004 it
was the fourth largest poppy producer in Afghanistan. Over 85
percent of Ghoris make their living in agriculture and livestock,
but the U.S. has no projects operating to support these areas.
Ghor's Directorate of Agriculture, Irrigation and Labor (DAIL) has
been leaderless for the past year and has no capacity or budget to
provide technical assistance to farmers. We request an agriculture
program to be expanded to Ghor such as USAID's Incentives Driving
Economic Alternatives North, East, West (IDEA NEW) to provide a
solid livelihood plan for farmers to avoid poppy cultivation
[Comment: Poppy cultivation dropped off due more to market forces
than to efforts by the Government of Afghanistan. End Comment]
Technical support in farming, alternative livelihood, livestock
management training, and establishment of small veterinary clinics
at the district level and development of mobile clinics are also

-- Local Economic Development: The overstretched Line Directorate
of Economy (LDoEc) currently has no local development plan to
promote economic growth in Ghor. The Afghan Small and Medium
Enterprise Development program (ASMED) traveled to Chaghcharan for
discussions with local officials who work closely with the DOE.
ASMED can be more effective if properly staged to provide business

KABUL 00003845 002 OF 002

development and tools to small enterprises to promote local economic
growth. We believe an ASMED program providing technical assistance
to help the LDoEc craft a five year economic development plan is an
essential initial step. We would also encourage assistance in
establishing a processing center to wash, dry, and cut camel wool
rugs. There is a tremendous potential to produce camel wool rugs
for export to neighboring provinces.

-- Youth Development: A prospective concept by USAID to create a
youth development program appears to be concentrating on the south
and east rather than the north and west. Programs to engage the
youth of Ghor are needed because many uneducated and unemployed
youth travel to the bordering provinces of Herat, Farah and Helmand
for work where they face the prospect of being recruited into the
insurgency. It is estimated that 10 percent of the poppy labor
force - an estimated 34,000 young men of ages 16 to 25 - comes from
Ghor to work on poppy fields in Helmand and Kandahar. This seasonal
employment lasts for about two months, during which they could make
about USD 10 per day, or USD 420 over the harvest season, according
to UN figures.

-- Energy: Ghor's electricity is limited to four hours a day in
Chaghcharan and in roughly 30 villages that benefit from micro-hydro
projects along the Hari Rud river. USAID's Afghan Clean Energy
Program (ACEP) will soon begin in all provinces in Afghanistan.
While this project will concentrate mainly to South and SE, we urge
that proper attention be given to Ghor due to its desperate need for

-- Infrastructure: Ghor's highest priority large infrastructure
project need is a paved road to Herat. Herat serves as Ghor's
lifeline, providing Ghor with access to markets, health care and
education. A road would link youth to vocational training schools
to learn new trades. While the Lithuanians are paving the city
streets of Chaghcharan and the Japanese are building schools, this
signature infrastructure project would be a "game changer" in Ghor's

6. (U) USG civilians working at Ghor's non-US led PRT need a
flexible mechanism to take advantage of targets of opportunity. We
have little access to US military CERP funds and coalition partners'
funding and flexibility to respond on short notice is limited. The
PRT has requested quick reaction funds (QRF) controlled by USG
civilians allowing a quick response to: 1) urgent needs which do not
fit into any USAID or other donor's program, and 2) requests for
support for high priority projects in the Provincial Development
Plan (PDP) not funded by others. For example, USAID has donated
almost one million books for schools in Ghor but due to lack of
funds for distribution, it took over four months to deliver the
books to the district level. In addition, the Department of Water
and Irrigation has been looking for funding for three projects in
the PDP that cost only USD 3500 each, yet cannot get donor funding.
(Comment: A QRF could quickly and efficiently address some, though
not all, of these types of requests, strengthening support for the
local government and providing much needed assistance. The Embassy
plans to launch its QRF in early 2009. End Comment.)

7. (SBU) Comment: The USD 27.03 Million in USAID funding Ghor
received between 2002 and April 2009, is small compared to roughly
USD 237.3 Million received by neighboring Herat Province in the same
period. Ghor would be unable to absorb a huge aid increase. With
some additional funding, however, there is an opportunity to build
sustainable stability in an area not yet under pressure from the
insurgency. Local officials often half-joke that they would attract
more assistance if somebody showered Chaghcharan with rockets.
Without increased development and good governance this province
could fall into the wrong hands and would likely experience many of
the same problems it had before we arrived. End comment.

© Scoop Media

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