GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan - On cold, wintery days, many people would stay inside, but not the Ghazni Provincial Reconstruction Team. Instead, they were out conducting a water well assessment and fostering relationships in the Touheed Abad Village, Ghazni Province Feb. 6.
Ghazni PRT members stay busy visiting districts throughout the province, but still take time to assess local villages that surround the base such as Touheed Abad.
More than 25 wells were built throughout the village more than two years ago by non-government organizations. Now, only five are in working condition.
“All projects the PRT facilitates, whether we sponsor directly or work with an NGO to fund, are tracked and followed up on,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Alex Dietrich, an engineer for the Ghazni PRT from Washington, D.C. “We don’t build a project and then walk away. We make sure they are maintaining and keeping the project secure after the Afghans have agreed to sustain it.”
Even though the PRT’s main mission is to help in reconstruction, they believe the community should come together to keep their village in working order.
“What are they going to do when we leave,” she added. “Our work shouldn’t be focused on the projects, but rather on the process. They need to stop looking to the PRT or coalition forces for help but instead utilize their Provincial Council, the Afghan government, for guidance. That’s why we’re here, to strengthen and empower the government of Afghanistan.”
Visiting the wells was not the only mission. Mingling with the locals is a great way to build relationships within the community and to pass important information.
U.S. Navy Lt. j.g. Shane Coss, Ghazni PRT information operations officer and Cass Lake, Minn., resident, spoke with individuals while passing out calling cards for the Guardians of Peace program.
“This program allows them to take ownership of security,” said Coss. “By using the hot line on the card to report suspicious activity, it helps them improve their situation.”
With a high illiteracy rate in the village, another way of passing important information is through the radio.
“Villagers will be able to hear official programs from both the U.S. and Afghan governments,” said Coss. “The use of the radio gets the information out to the people and gives them a chance to hear what the government has to offer.”
More than 10 radios were given to the elders during this visit.