American Forces Press Service
Feb. 19, 2008 - Afghan and coalition forces are working with national government officials to help farmers endure the harsh winter in this western Afghanistan province bordering Iran. The winter has been especially harsh. Severe snow and ice storms have made it nearly impossible for villagers to travel to nearby cities to purchase supplies of food and fuel.
Recognizing the emergent need of Afghans, the combined team launched an effort to help farmers and their animals. A team of veterinarian technicians and civil affairs specialists accompanied Afghan and coalition forces to the Shib Koh district center to talk with farmers and provide veterinary training Feb 5.
Haji Abdul Rahim, the Shib Koh district manager, explained that livestock is important to the local economy and villagers' quality of life. "They make their living off the animals," Rahim said.
The veterinarian technician explained how farmers can identify livestock illnesses, eradicate worm infestations, and stop the spread of disease within a herd. The team also provided veterinary supplies for the ranchers to treat their animals. Rahim said the more than 50 elders who attended the class were very pleased with the visit.
"I believe it went better than expected," a civil affairs team leader said. "Capacity building and development is better than just treating animals."
Rahim said the Shib Koh district is free of poppy cultivation and is a secure place to live and work; however, life in the rural district is hard. Village elders would like to see more projects to improve their economic situation.
"We want this district to be an example to others," a village elder said. Other elders reiterated his sentiments.
With so much of their economy centering on the health of their livestock, projects like this one go a long way toward ensuring financial security for the farmers and quality of life for residents of Shib Koh district and Farah province.
"The government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan wants to ensure a secure environment so residents can build a stable economy," said Army Capt. Vanessa R. Bowman, a coalition spokeswoman.
(From a Combined Joint Task Force 82 news release.)