Khost省Mandozai區的居民Abdul Karim Patang說，雖然首府喀布爾也提供了一些幫助和服務，但只有NSP發揮實際作用，「托NSP的福，我們在社區造橋鋪路和掘井，也買了發電機，一用就是8年，幾乎所有的需求都照顧到了。」
省議會主席Sayed Karim Khaksar說，數10年的衝突讓當地部落間的關係降到冰點。NSP則讓部落間關係重新熱絡起來，「目前每個村莊都有當地耆老組成的議會，根據村莊的傳統、信仰和優先順序執行計畫和下決策，人們對此相當滿意。」
Khost省省長Abdul Jabar Naimi與公關顧問Barialai Rawan說，NSP計畫大幅減少了全省的失業率。根據農村重建與發展部統計，NSP為100,000位Khost省居民創造臨時或長期就業機會。
Khost省Gorboz區地方政府首長Mohammad Akbar Zadran說，雖然淨水供應解決了，太陽能計畫卻沒這麼成功：「NSP提供Gorboz區居民的太陽能系統品質很差，很快就損壞了，引起民眾不滿。」
Residents of Khost province in southeast Afghanistan say a nationwide development initiative is making a real difference to their daily lives, calming tribal tensions and boosting security as well as providing essential infrastructure.
The National Solidarity Programme, NSP, conceived as a way of rehabilitating rural areas with the active participation of local residents, was rolled out across the country from 2003 onwards.
Overseen by the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, local councils help choose and supervise projects based on the needs of local people. The bodies, known as Community Development Councils, are elected by villagers and make their project plans in consultation with the community.
Some of these schemes are carried out by the village independently, while others receive support from the National Solidarity Programme. The projects also provide employment for the community.
Abdul Karim Patang, a resident of Khost’s Mandozai district, said that despite other efforts by the Kabul government to provide services, only the NSP projects had proved successful.
“We have built small bridges and alleys in our areas with the NSP’s blessing. We have dug deep wells for the villages. We have also purchased power generators and have been using them for the past eight years. With all this, almost all our primary needs have been addressed.”
Patang said that unlike other programmes developed by international organisations or the Kabul government with little awareness of local requirements, the NSP allowed people to create the projects they identified as most essential.
Locals say the National Solidarity Programme has helped soothe relationships between different tribal groups in the province.
Sayed Karim Khaksar, chairman of the provincial council, explained that decades of conflict had damaged the bonds between local tribes. The National Solidarity Programme projects, he said, had helped revive these ties.
“There is a council of tribal elders in every village now,” Khaksar said. “They implement programmes based on the traditions, religious beliefs and priorities of these villages and make decisions. The people are happy with them.”
Easier access to water has led to knock-on benefits, says Nasratullah, who lives in central Khost. There used to be no clean water supply in his village, and women would have to walk long distances to find water – a task considered demeaning for men.
“We would receive reports every day that such-and-such a person had beaten his wife because there was no water in the house,” he explained. “Or else problems would arise among women over who should fetch water. Interference by men would then cause violence. But the NSP dug wells and this is no longer a problem in families.”
Osman Mahdawi, the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development’s regional director in Khost, said that more than US$1 billion had been spent in Khost since 2003, with nearly 1,800 projects implemented.
Officials in Khost say the National Solidarity Programme has also had the effect of boosting stability in the areas in which it operates, increasing public confidence in government.
Barialai Rawan, public relations adviser to Khost Governor Abdul Jabar Naimi, said NSP projects have greatly reduced unemployment across the province.
According to the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, the schemes have led to temporary or permanent employment for some 100,000 people in Khost.
However, not everyone is happy with all the NSP’s work.
Mohammad Akbar Zadran, local government head in Khost’s Gorboz district, said that while access to clean water has vastly improved, solar energy projects have not had similar success.
“The solar energy systems provided for the people in Gorboz by the NSP were of poor quality. They broke quickly and the people were left unhappy,” he said.
Mahdawi agreed that there have been problems with poor-quality solar energy systems in the past, but he said the ministry had penalized the contractors responsible and no longer included solar power in projects.
Baswaroddin Afghan, a resident of Khost city, said that some NSP projects were marred by nepotism.
“When a well is to be dug, the council members or the commander in the village try to dig it near their own houses. If a road is constructed, they try to lead it past their homes,” he said, claiming that laborers were mostly relatives of NSP council members and the work done was often of low quality.
Mahdawi strongly rejected any suggestion of corruption.
“We monitor our own our activities closely,” he said. “We do not allow anyone to use the project money for their or their friends’ own benefit.”