Friday, April 10, 2009

British military team help reconstruct Garmsir

The British Military Stabilisation Support Team (MSST) for Garmsir has been working to help build the capacity of the local authorities and aid reconstruction of Garmsir, in southern Helmand Province.

The MSST for Garmsir is one of five operating throughout Helmand Province carrying out Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) tasks in order to help speed up reconstruction work and win the consent of the population. They work with the civilian Stabilisation Advisor who controls the overall reconstruction strategy, alongside the District Governor, on behalf of the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team.

CIMIC sees military teams operating in areas that are deemed unsafe for the civilian agencies that would normally carry out these types of tasks

In Garmsir the military team has been bringing about a wealth of new developments and improving the lives of people throughout the district.

Flight Lieutenant Shona Miller, who has recently taken over as Officer Commanding of the Garmsir team, explains their role:

"One of main roles of the MSST is interacting with the local population. When patrols pass through villages we have opportunities to speak to the local population and host shuras to discuss ways in which ISAF [International Security Assistance Force], in support of the District Governor, can assist in the reconstruction of the district by listening to what the local population see as their priorities."

The district centre has improved visibly over recent months - there are now over 200 stores open throughout the bazaar selling a range of goods. There is a newly opened taxi-rank and telephone store.

More than 1,000 people are estimated to travel to the bazaar on its busiest days and a solar lighting project has been installed along the main street to improve the security of the area.

The district centre has also recently seen a $1,000,000 contract to blacktop the main road, improving the access for vehicles. A major new bridge was recently built by ISAF forces to improve freedom of movement.

The District Governor's offices and accommodation have been totally renovated to encourage representatives from the Afghan government's line ministries to visit and set up their offices in order to show commitment to the local population. With the aid of ISAF and Afghan National Security Forces, security and stabilisation can return to the district and revive the community.

The school has been repaired and redecorated and the number of pupils has risen to over 200. The MSST has provided stationery and educational aids such as maps and exercise books to help the teaching staff.

Healthcare too has benefited from the MSST's work with much work going into renovating the district clinic, providing a water tower, new wiring and new plumbing. The charity Ibn Sina pays the salaries of medical staff who work there. More than 20 wells have been dug in the area through Cash-For-Work schemes in order to provide clean water.

Through public information campaigns, radio bulletins, posters and shuras [consultations] with local people, messages are spread to all levels of society; communicating the role of ISAF forces and the intent of the Government of Afghanistan.

Flt Lt Miller said:

"The numbers of people moving back to Garmsir in the last few months are testament to the security now existent in the district. It is hoped that the work of the Stabilisation Advisor and my team will help put in place the foundations of an infrastructure that will build towards a better future for those returning to their homes."

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