Letter to the Editor

The right approach to Afghanistan’s Kajaki Dam

In an Orwellian twist, the March 5 front-page article “Project’s key step is left to Afghans” suggested that the U.S. Agency for International Development’s recent agreement to fund the completion of the Kajaki Dam energy project in partnership with the Afghan energy utility is an abandonment of the effort. The opposite is true.

After taking a hard look at the project and how it could be completed most cost-effectively and sustainably, we concluded that by working directly through the Afghan government’s national utility, DABS, we would leverage the increased capacity of the Afghans to take on responsibility for their own economic and social development.

Our ultimate goal is to support the Afghans on their path to stability and prosperity. Increasing their domestic energy production is part of that. Equally important is giving the Afghans the resources to manage their future. Those who suggest that the Afghans can’t implement part of this effort should look at the facts.

DABS has made remarkable progress in the past few years, successfully taking over maintenance of most of the Afghan energy system and boosting its revenue to more than $200 million — a 70 percent increase in just the past two years. Partnering with DABS does not mean that USAID will be less involved in this project. USAID will continue to provide technical and managerial support for DABS and oversight over our funds. Having DABS manage the installation of a turbine at the Kajaki Dam — a step supported by Gen. John R. Allen, former commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan — is a significant positive indication of how far Afghanistan has come in the past 11 years.

Alex Thier, Washington

The writer is the assistant to the administrator for the Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs at the U.S. Agency for International Development.

 
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