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Cablegate: "Shaping for Success": Nangarhar, Kunar, Laghman

VZCZCXRO7008
OO RUEHDBU RUEHPW RUEHSL
DE RUEHBUL #4186/01 3631023
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 291023Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4346
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 004186

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SRAP, SCA/FO, SCA/A, EUR/RPM, INR/B
STATE PASS USAID FOR ASIA/SCAA
USFOR-A FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KDEM PGOV AF
SUBJECT: "SHAPING FOR SUCCESS": NANGARHAR, KUNAR, LAGHMAN
PROVINCES DEVELOPMENT SURVEY

1. (SBU) Summary and comment: Regional Command East (RC-E) recently
released the results of its October 2009 development survey
representing the views of nearly 2,400 residents of the Command's
critical focus provinces of Nangarhar, Kunar and Laghman ("NKL").
The survey's results can be interpreted in two critical ways:
ongoing counter-insurgency (COIN) operations have begun to set
conditions in these provinces for more long-term development, but the
results nonetheless reflect three decades of war. Afghans in these
eastern provinces want clean water, level roads and electricity, but
do not want to pay for them. As GIRoA expands development in rural
areas and begins to provide essential services, it will face
continued public expectation that the costs for these projects and
services should be borne by the government or outside agencies not
the residents of the provinces.
End summary and comment.

DESIRED OUTCOME: TO DISCOVER "BEST PRACTICES"
--------------------------------------------- -

2. (SBU) Regional Command East recently released the results of its
latest development survey of the local population in the provinces of
Nangarhar, Kunar and Laghman. The purpose of this quarterly survey
was to examine local perceptions and attitudes toward development
efforts in these provinces, including such issues as satisfaction
with essential services, the media and attitudes towards GIRoA and
Afghan security forces. Nearly 2,400 Afghans were surveyed
door-to-door in randomly selected villages October 13-19, 2009, by
the Afghan Center for Socio-Economic and Opinion Research, the firm
used by major international media outlets and the Asia Foundation.
Roughly an equal number of men and women were surveyed across all age
and ethnic/tribal groups. This particular effort attempted to
investigate the deeper issues of not just satisfaction but how people
believe developmental efforts are best managed and delivered. One
desired outcome of this survey was to offer "best practices" that
could be applied to local, small-scale development projects at the
district level.

THINGS MAY NOT BE GOOD, BUT THEY ARE IMPROVING
--------------------------------------------- -

3. (SBU) Essential Services: Nearly 50 percent of respondents say
that basic services improved over the last year. When asked about
life in general, the dominant response in Laghman is that it is
better; the population of Nangarhar
says it is roughly the same; and 40 percent of the people of Kunar
complain it has become worse. Twice as many people have seen the
roads improve in their area as have seen improvements in the economy
(58 percent and 26 percent, respectively).

4. (SBU) When asked who is responsible for these changes, 40-50
percent say that either the district or the provincial government is
responsible, with another 20-30 percent saying the Afghan police,
army or Coalition Forces are responsible for bringing better services
to their area. When asked who is responsible for declines in
services, 40-50 percent blame the Taliban, Al Qaeda or insurgents.
This is a recurring pattern in this and previous polls where the
authorities, civil or uniformed, are generally given credit for
positive developments while anti-government elements are perceived as
culpable for declines of services.

5. (SBU) When asked about the one action GIRoA could take to improve
the economic situation, resident responses include a somewhat
balanced mix of better security, more jobs and the availability of
electricity. A quarter of the people say they do not have access to
safe and reliable drinking water. In Laghman, those drawing their
water from wells are twice as likely to say this
situation is not acceptable. In Kunar and Nangarhar, those drawing
from a river or stream are three times as likely to assert they do
not have acceptable access. Water and irrigation improvement are
services that respondents
indicate would be best managed by local leaders.

SENSE THAT AFGHAN SECURITY FORCES CAN PROVIDE SECURITY
--------------------------------------------- ---------

6. (SBU) Security: More than half of Kunar respondents say they do
not feel safe going about their day-to-day activities, while
two-thirds of respondents in Nangarhar and Laghman say they do. The
data indicate that people think Afghan security forces can provide
security and have better capacity to do so than local leaders or
Coalition Forces. Comment: security perceptions reflect localized
sentiment because Coalition Forces do not have a continuous presence
in many areas. End comment.

7. (SBU) Respondents were asked if road safety prevents them from
traveling. About 20 percent of respondents say that poor security
prevented them from attending a wedding or family gathering, for
example. Kunar citizens registered the most concerns -- 29 percent

KABUL 00004186 002 OF 002


-- and Nangarhar the lowest -- 16 percent. Some 14 percent referred
to police checkpoints as a hindrance to travel, highlighting an
apparent paradox: while perceived as enhancing security on the one
hand, police are also viewed as a constraint to freedom of movement.

CONTINUING CENTRAL ROLE OF GOVERNMENT
-------------------------------------

8. (SBU) Community Management of Development Efforts: New to this
survey were questions about who can best manage community
development. In all districts, a slight majority preferred outside
help with drinking water. Over 61 percent prefer local community
management of irrigation resources. This sentiment is reversed when
considering roads and electricity, as most communities recognize
these
projects to be beyond their means.

9. (SBU) Value of Service: How much are Afghans willing to pay for
water, power and road improvements? Residents of the provinces
surveyed do not generally pay for water or roads. Asking them to pay
for something they currently have (or gather) for free will likely
conflict with a widely held sense of entitlement. Although 80
percent of respondents say they do not pay for housing, those who do
pay an average of only $17 USD monthly. Reliable cell
phone coverage has roughly the same value, approximately $18 USD per
month as a typical rent payment. Most would only pay about $1.50 USD
for water, if anything, because at the village level water is
typically fetched by women at no cost. Respondents are willing to
pay more for paved roads to their home than any other additional
service, about $23 USD.

10. (SBU) Comment: The survey's results can be interpreted in two
critical ways: 1) ongoing counter-insurgency (COIN) operations have
begun to set the conditions in these provinces for more long-term
development; and 2) the results nonetheless reflect the difficult
conditions residents face after three decades of war. The survey
also suggests that the general population of the
critical NKL provinces in eastern Afghanistan relies increasingly on
outside actors, including the GIRoA, for a range of essential
services including security. Residents, however, generally do not
want to pay for essential services, which portends challenges when
and if the authorities attempt to move from what is essentially a
subsistence economy to a more mixed economy. U.S. civilians in RC-E
and elsewhere in the field will need to continue fostering local
buy-in to governance and development efforts to strengthen prospects
for long-term sustainability. End comment.

RICCIARDONE

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