NEWS | June 23, 2010

Now Zad rehab paves way for economic progress

By Cpl. Daniel A. Blatter , ISAF Joint Command

100623nowzad A local Afghan tears apart a dangerous structure in Now Zad to make room for new buildings and shops, June 16, during the rehabilitation of the Now Zad Bazaar.

KABUL, Afghanistan (June 21, 2010) — Afghan and ISAF forces are supporting the reconstruction and development of Now Zad District,  once known for being the largest producer of fruit in Helmand Province,  but that in recent years has suffered destruction and been considered dangerous by its inhabitants.

“The overall depth of destruction here is easily seen, just by walking through the bazaar,” said Thomas Gillick, the deputy manager for U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Helmand operations. “Our goal is to rehabilitate over 400 shops in the bazaar within approximately 70 days, and we are currently on day 12.”

The development of the Now Zad bazaar is a USAID-funded project which is already seeing results; the number of shops has grown whom approximately 25 in March to more than 140 today.

As the population in Now Zad continues to grow at a rapid pace, it is important for the local bazaar to be able to house the coming businesses as well as food and supplies for the people.

“Roughly 50 to 60 families are moving back into the Now Zad valley per week,” said Capt.  Jeremy S. Wilkinson, U.S. Marine Alpha company commander. “The local economy will be able to support them after the rehabilitation of the bazaar. It will allow the people who move back in here to have jobs.”

There are more than 60 residents currently working on the bazaar project, and upon arrival of the tools needed, that number is predicted to grow to around 750.

“Overall, the Now Zad village community and elders have been supportive of this project 110 percent,” said Gillick.

“The idea behind rehabilitating the bazaar is to promote commerce and to quickly get cash into the hands of [young] males so they will be gainfully employed and less prone to planting improvised explosive devices, fighting, or becoming disenfranchised from the government,”  said Gillick.

Since Afghan National Security Force and ISAF troops have been living and patrolling close to the bazaar, security has improved.

“One of the benefits that we have had with this project is the safety and security that we feel when going into the bazaar,” said Gillick. “There is no hostility whatsoever. The people embrace us and they are friendly.”