Afghan community provides guidance for new counterinsurgency strategy
A new development model in Jurm has raised hopes for Afghan villagers. Via NYTimes.
Small grants given to villagers in the small valley of Jurm, Afghanistan, have lead to progressive changes. The National Solidarity Initiative was introduced by the Afghan Ministry in 2003. The program provides local villagers and local councils with small grants, usually less than $100,000, to build things like water systems and schools. Although progress has been modest and slow, Jurm is transforming itself. In 2003, there was no electricity or water, poppy was the main crop, and ten percent of women giving birth died. Currently, wheat is a major crop, most people have running water, and medical treatment for women has become socially accepted.
Programs such as this address many of the key issues that hinder progress in Afghanistan: corruption, high overhead costs and lack of popular support. By working with the people in the community, providing training and expertise, but giving the money directly to the villagers, the program cuts out the middlemen and supplies common ground for positive engagement with the populace.
The program has already been duplicated in other places but it is clear the development of change comes slowly and there are many obstacles. However, the new model of progressive engagement directly with local communities may provide better long term counterinsurgency results than military endeavors. Certainly, such programs are a constructive partner with traditional counterinsurgency strategies.