Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Not all news from Afghanistan bad

  • Print

The story of Afghanistan known by most Americans is of horrific war scenes, lost lives and injuries to troops and civilians. Last weekend, another roadside bomb killed five soldiers working to rout terrorists.

Less well know is another campaign: building infrastructure, health facilities and schools. While tremendous waste and ineffective projects have been exposed, there is also evidence of striking improvements.

Life expectancy in Afghanistan, for example, rose from 42 in 2002 to 62 in 2010. Deaths of newborns fell dramatically, as have maternal deaths.

In 2002, only 900,000 boys were in school and virtually no girls. Now there are eight million students, more than a third of whom are girls.

And the number of primary health care facilities increased from fewer than 500 in 2002 to nearly 2,000 in 2010.

Alex Thier, assistant to the administrator for the Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs in the U.S. Agency for International Development, cites a report that shows Afghanistan has made more progress on a percentage basis since 2000 than any country in the world. That also shows just how miserable life was under the Taliban era.

To Thier, the biggest hope for the future rests with better-educated women who are holding a growing number of government jobs, serving in elective office and launching entrepreneurial businesses.

While calls routinely emerge in the U.S. to cut foreign aid, Thier says the entire development budget for Afghanistan over the last decade equals the cost of four to six weeks of the military campaign. "Continuing this investment will greatly diminish the likelihood of Afghanistan becoming fragile," he said.

Thier finds hope in Afghanistan's increasingly educated and tech-savvy youth. He suggests that this youth contingent plus upgraded infrastructure should help keep Afghanistan from slipping backward after troops depart.

One can only hope he's a better prognosticator than the pessimistic analysts.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Jim Flaherty remembered at visitation as irreplaceable

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Gardening Column- Assiniboine Park English Garden. July 19, 2002.
  • The sun peers through the fog to illuminate a tree covered in hoar frost near Headingley, Manitoba Thursday- Standup photo- February 02, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Now that the snow is mostly gone, what are your plans?

View Results

Ads by Google