Economic Development & Wish List Projects

Trust in Education invests in education because education is the solution to almost everything.  We recognized long ago, however, that, in the fifth poorest country in the world, ravaged by over 30 years of war, learning to read and write doesn’t solve the problem of not having food on the table. While focusing on the best long-term strategy for winning the war on poverty—education—we also wanted to address Afghans’ other needs.

We learned very quickly that the best way to determine what villagers need is to ask them. At first they were surprised we asked. Now they listen carefully for the magic words, “put it on the wish list.”  Making it to the “wish list” is one step away from funding.

In prioritizing the “wish list” together, we engage in a complicated cost/benefit process that strives to allocate resources fairly. Working together with the villagers keeps the process transparent, accountable and verifiable. It is the only way to build trust.

We believe strongly in the bottom up approach to economic development. Top down, trickle down dollars often don’t make it to the bottom and incur substantial overhead costs while working their way down. Whoever is engaged in the war for hearts and minds would be well advised to apply more resources to the bottom rungs of the ladder. That’s where the overwhelming majority of hearts and minds live.

In all construction projects, TIE provides funds for the materials and the villagers volunteer their labor. We’re partners more than anything else.

What economic development projects have we funded?

  • Irrigation system for 150 acres Lalander (cost $19,000)
  • More than 23 000 fruit trees for Lalander (See full story)
  • Irrigation project/ small dam to prevent spring run off from flooding land owned by more than 80 farmers (material cost $4990) . The dam is 575 feet long and built from large rocks. Thank you Los Altos Rotary Club!
  • A dam to protect and irrigate the land for 50 families Lalander (material cost $1424) Thank you Los Altos Rotary Club!
  • 2 irrigation projects Tangi Saidan
  • 10 cold potato storage sheds Lalander and Midon
  • Fertilizer and improved seeds 19 Villages (See full story)
  • 16,000 poplar tree cuttings, in partnership with Global Hope Network International. Both organizations hope these will be a catalyst for several poplar woodlots over the next few years, as poplar woodlots will produce more income than opium.

New technology

  • Provided hydraulic ram (technology developed by the French over 150 years ago, that uses a few valves, some PVC pipe, gravity and glue to  pump water 24 hours a day without gas or electricity) Thank you Masood Sattari  and Solano Community College! Unfortunately, “rolling it out” proved too difficult to implement. Not all seeds grow.

Training

  • Training in organic bio-intensive farming techniques developed by John Jeavons (The vegetable yield is potentially 4 times U.S. commercial mechanized levels.) Turned out we couldn’t convince them to do all that digging. They still wanted to use a plow.
  • Six month sewing class for 50 women. Students were given new sewing machines upon graduation, enabling them to earn income from home.

Other Wish List Projects

  • Footbridge (material cost $6,800)  Tangi Saidan
  • Three small footbridges (material cost $750) Lalander
  • Widened a road (so produce can be picked up by trucks) Lalander
  • Wells—new or repaired Qallah Asfand Yar, Qallah Khawaja Noor

For links to more stories about economic development and wish list projects:

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