Story and photos by MC1 Kurt Wesseling
FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELARAM, Afghanistan – Senior Nimroz provincial, district, military, and police officials met here for the first time to discuss their current concerns and plan how to resolve future challenges facing the province.
Approximately 40 people attended the conference hosted by Provincial Gov. Abdul Karim Barahawi and U.S. military officials, including Maj. Gen. John A. Toolan, commanding general of II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) and Regional Command Southwest.
Each district governor used the opportunity to speak about the needs of their individual districts to the assembled officials.
Delaram, and the majority of Nimroz province, is located in western Afghanistan’s arid “Dashti Margo,” Persian for “Desert of Death.”
During their presentations all of the governors spoke about the populace’s need for water.
Speaking through a translator, governor Barahawi said, “[Our number one] problem is the lack of drinking water. For the past 10 years…we haven’t had any facilities for clean drinking water.”
Flat, hot and dry, Nimroz province is in the southwest corner of Afghanistan. It is bordered by Iran to the west and Pakistan to the south. Its six districts are home to an estimated 150,000 people. The majority of the population is Baluch and Pashtun, but there are smaller Tajik and Uzbek communities as well.
As the conference progressed, district governors and ministry officials also spoke about the need to improve schools, provide athletic opportunities for students, and bring doctors and other healthcare professionals into the region. Second only to the need for clean drinking water, Gov. Barahawi said, “The other serious problem we face is a lack of adequate health care. We don’t have a good hospital or other health care facilities.”
In the future Barahawi hopes to secure greater support for the province from the central government in Kabul.
At the conclusion of the conference the governor said, “I am very happy and proud that there was a council of the district governors. It was a good meeting and I expect the results of the meeting to be good as well.”
Barahawi also said he hopes to hold similar conferences at the district level in months to come.
Additional photos here.