HYDRO-ELECTRIC PROJECT IN SOUTHERN AFGHANISTAN CONTINUES AFTER HALF A CENTURY

In the great Helmand River Valley of southern Afghanistan, stands a rockfill dam, bearing testimony to USAID’s continued commitment to the country for more than half a century. In 1953, USAID contracted Morrison Knudsen, one of American heavy construction contractors that built the Hoover Dam, to construct this dam. Standing 100 metres (320 feet) in height, spanning 270 metres (887 feet) in length, and having a present storage capacity of 1.2-billion cubic metres (27,550 acre-feet) of water, the Kajakai Dam creates the largest multi-purpose reservoir in the country. For decades, water discharging from Kajakai has traversed some 300 miles of downstream irrigation canals, which stretch across parched formidable landscape, feeding 140,000 hectares of farmland with water.

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ROAD TO REHABILITATION CONTINUES IN WESTERN AFGHANISTAN

Kabul, Afghanistan — Afghanistan recently witnessed the rebirth of one of its major lifelines, a roadway linking the nation’s capital to its southern city of Kandahar. Originally constructed by USAID between 1961 and 1966, the Kabul-Kandahar Highway had been debilitated by decades of war and neglect. USAID’s rehabilitation of the key portion of the country’s national road system has already brought enormous benefits. The travel time between Kabul to Kandahar was cut from two days to five hours, accelerating the flow of goods into and out of villages, and providing improved access to healthcare, schools and markets to the 35 percent of Afghanistan’s population that live within 50 kilometers of the highway. The highway also reaffirms the central government’s influence in this area.

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