Afghan Reconstruction Report No. 316 (18-Mar-09).
Insurgents allow development projects to go ahead on condition they get a cut of the funds.
By Fetrat Zerak in Farah.
Mirahmad has a very important job to do: he is the mirab, or water regulator, in his native Pushtrod district of Farah province. It is Mirahmad who ensures that the villages under his control receive adequate water for their fields.
When the state-sponsored National Solidarity Programme, NSP, gave Pushtrod 200,000 afghani (40,000 US dollars) to clean out the Nawbahar canal irrigation canal, he was overjoyed.
“But then the Taleban asked for 40 per cent of the money,” he told IWPR. “Otherwise they were not going to let us do the work. So we had to buy them a four-by-four.”
While the Taleban drive around in their new vehicle, Mirahmad is trying desperately to stretch the remaining funds to complete the project.
“We are worried about the budget,” he said. “It may not be enough to do the job. We will have a lot of problems with water.”
In district after district of remote and volatile Farah province, the Taleban are taking control. But rather than chasing out the remnants of government authority, they are seeking to profit from them, by demanding a healthy portion of donor-funded assistance projects.
Institute for War and Peace Reporting