Sat Jul 7, 1:31 AM ET
KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan's government said on Saturday it was checking reports of heavy civilian casualties caused by NATO and U.S. air strikes in two areas of the country.
The U.S. military said more than 30 insurgents were killed in air strikes in the western province of Farah on Friday, while the NATO-led force said air raids killed "a number" of guerrillas in the eastern province of Kunar also on Friday.
Spokesmen for the Western forces said there were no reports of civilian casualties in either area.
But several residents and the head of a district council in Farah said the attack in the Bala Boluk area there killed 108 civilians.
Residents of Kunar put the civilian death toll there at nearly two dozen.
The Interior Ministry in Kabul said it had heard of civilian deaths and was checking the reports.
A parliamentarian from Farah said there was heavy fighting and bombing in his province, but said he did not have any figure for casualties because of the inaccessibility of the district.
More than 300 civilians have been killed by Western air strikes in Afghanistan this year, according to provincial officials and aid groups.
An Afghan rights body this month urged foreign forces to cut air operations as it said civilians formed the bulk of casualties and instead proposed an increase in the number of ground troops, currently standing to nearly 50,000.
Back to Top
Back to Top
Airstrikes kill scores of Afghan civilians: officials
By Sayed Salahuddin Sat Jul 7, 9:19 AM ET
KABUL (Reuters) - NATO and U.S. airstrikes have killed scores of Afghan civilians this week, residents and officials said on Saturday, deaths likely to deepen discontent with foreign forces and the Western-backed Afghan government.
NATO-led and U.S. forces said there were heavy clashes in Farah province in western Afghanistan and Kunar province in the east, and that troops in both places had called for air support.
Several residents and the head of a district council in Farah said an air attack in the Bala Boluk area had killed 108 civilians.
"Women and children have been killed and 13 houses destroyed," said Bala Boluk council head Haji Khudairam. "In the bombing, in total, 108 civilians have been killed."
"We are asking the government to send a delegation to see for itself the civilian deaths," said Faizullah, a resident.
The governor and police chief for Farah province both declined to confirm or deny the reports of civilian deaths.
President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly called for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the separate U.S. force in Afghanistan to coordinate more closely with his troops to curb a spate of civilian deaths from airstrikes.
But Western unwillingness to accept casualties among their own soldiers and a shortage of ground troops means commanders often turn to air power to beat the Taliban, and that almost inevitably leads to civilians deaths, military analysts say.
Casualties are also boosting Taliban numbers, analysts say.
Afghan troops backed by coalition soldiers defeated an attempted Taliban ambush in Farah on Saturday, a U.S. statement said. The troops "killed over 30 insurgent fighters with accurate small arms fire and precision air strikes," it said.
"All fires were directed by the ground force commander who carefully evaluated risk of collateral damage against the military necessity," the statement said.
Eleven Afghan police were also killed in the fighting in Farah, said a provincial official who declined to be named.
Residents of Kunar and provincial officials said airstrikes there killed three dozen civilians.
Eleven civilians, including nine family members of a man called Mohammad Nabi, were killed in an airstrike on Thursday after two U.S.-led troops were killed in a clash with the Taliban, residents and officials said.
Then 25 more civilians were killed in another airstrike on Friday while they buried the bodies of those killed on Thursday.
"In total from two days of bombing, 36 civilians have been killed," said Shafiqullah Khatir, a Red Crescent employee.
Abdul Saboor Allahyar, a senior police officer in Kunar, said airstrikes killed 25 civilians and wounded 14.
ISAF said airstrikes killed "a number" of guerrillas in Kunar on Friday, but denied there were any civilian casualties.
"Contrary to some press reports, at this time there is no reason for us to believe that there are any civilian casualties of any type," said ISAF spokesman Major John Thomas.
The Afghan Defence Ministry said 37 "terrorists" were killed in Kunar in a joint operation by Afghan and coalition forces. It said initial reports indicated all those killed were armed men, but it was checking reports of civilian deaths.
More than 300 civilians have been killed by Western air strikes in Afghanistan this year, according to Afghan officials and international aid groups.
U.S. and NATO military officials say their tactics minimize civilian casualties and accuse the Taliban of using villagers as human shields and sheltering from raids in people's homes.
Taliban mortar bombs landed in a civilian compound in a village in Helmand province on Saturday. "Extremists have continued to show a disregard for the safety of Afghans," a U.S. spokesman said.
As well as the danger of alienating Afghans, the other major threats to Western forces are suicide and roadside bombs, against which they have few defenses.
A suicide car bomber wounded four Canadian troops near the southern city of Kandahar on Saturday, a Canadian army spokesman said. The Taliban claimed responsibility.
(Additional reporting by Finbarr O'Reilly in Kandahar)
Back to Top
Back to Top
Fighting rages across Afghanistan, scores killed
July 7, 2007
KABUL (AFP) - Scores of rebels and a dozen local police and soldiers were killed in an upsurge of fighting in Afghanistan in the past two days that also allegedly left civilians dead, officials said Saturday.
About 25 civilians were killed in air strikes that hit a home late Thursday and then a funeral on Friday in a remote area of mountainous northeastern Kunar province, a local deputy police chief said.
Some 20 "enemies" were also killed, Kunar province deputy police chief Abdul Sabur Alayar told AFP. A resident said up to 35 civilians were killed.
The International Security Assistance Force commanded by NATO confirmed the air strikes but cast doubt on civilian deaths.
Instead the force said the strikes were believed to have killed a "significant number" of insurgents.
The strikes were called in against "positively identified enemy firing positions, including a hostile compound," ISAF spokesman John Thomas said.
"We have no evidence of civilian casualties," Major Thomas said.
"We don't have any reason to think there was a funeral going on and that we struck a group of civilians," he said.
The Afghan interior ministry said it would send a team to investigate.
"It is not clear yet what happened," interior ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary told AFP.
ISAF and its partner, the US-led coalition, are sensitive to civilian casualties after being rebuked by President Hamid Karzai and Western officials for killing too many people in their operations against the Taliban.
About 600 civilians have been killed in insurgency-linked violence this year, according to figures used by the United Nations, around half by Afghan and foreign troops.
Foreign attack aircraft were also despatched Friday to battles in Farah province in the west, where estimates on Saturday of the rebel dead ranged from more than 30 to up to 60. Aircraft were also sent into a battle in southern Uruzgan, where the defence ministry said Friday 33 rebels were killed.
The fighting in Farah erupted when Taliban insurgents ambushed a police escort for a government delegation heading to one of the province's most volatile areas to discuss security with local tribal chiefs, an official said.
Eleven policemen were killed, making it one of the deadliest ambushes against the police force which is frequently targeted by the insurgents.
Afghan forces on the ground called for help, provincial police chief Abdul Rahman Sarjang told AFP.
"A compound from where the police was attacked was bombed. Up to 60 Taliban were killed," he said. "There were no civilian casualties."
The US-led coalition said more than 30 insurgents were killed.
New fighting raged Saturday in the southern province of Helmand, adjacent to Kandahar where four Canadian soldiers were lightly wounded when a suicide car bomb exploded on a patrol convoy early in the morning.
ISAF said it saw at least two Taliban rockets fall on a civilian compound in Helmand but it gave no details of casualties or damage, with the clashes still under way.
Fighting to end the Taliban's Al-Qaeda-backed insurgency has intensified this summer, with major battles across the country and an insurgent campaign of suicide and other bombings spreading into previously calm areas.
The unrelenting violence is wearing down a population that had high hopes after the Taliban were toppled in late 2001 and the world rushed to help lift Afghanistan out of the chaos that allowed Al-Qaeda to thrive.
Back to Top
Back to Top
Blast hurts 4 NATO troops in Afghanistan
By NOOR KHAN Associated Press / July 7, 2007
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - A roadside blast struck a NATO convoy in southern Afghanistan and wounded four alliance soldiers Saturday, while fighting in three separate regions of the country left more than 100 militants dead, officials said.
Violence is rising rapidly in Afghanistan five years into the U.S.-led effort to defeat the Taliban,
The NATO convoy was attacked west of Kandahar city, and the four wounded soldiers were taken to a nearby military hospital, said Maj. John Thomas, a NATO spokesman.
Qari Yousef Ahmadi, a purported Taliban spokesman, said a suicide bomber had attacked the convoy.
An Associated Press reporter at the scene said the wounded soldiers were Canadian, but that could not be immediately confirmed.
The attack happened a day after officials said fierce fighting in three separate regions of Afghanistan killed more than 100 militants.
Shalizai Dedar, governor of northeastern Kunar province, said villagers accused foreign troops of killing dozens of civilians in airstrikes Friday. He said about 60 militants died in the battle but he could not confirm the reports of civilian deaths.
U.S.-led coalition and NATO spokesmen on Friday emphasized that ground commanders had evaluated the terrain in Kunar province to prevent civilian casualties, but Dedar said villagers had reported that an initial airstrike killed 10 civilians — and that a second killed about 30 people who were trying to bury the dead.
Abdul Sabur Allayar, the provincial deputy police chief, said Saturday that 25 civilians and 20 militants were killed in clashes over three days.
The fighting — in the south, west and northeast — follows a trend of sharply rising bloodshed over the past five weeks, among the deadliest periods since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.
Insurgency-related violence in June alone killed more than 1,000 people, including 200 civilians, according to an AP count based on information from Western and Afghan officials.
More than 3,100 people have been killed in Afghanistan this year, according to the AP tally. About 4,000 people died in the violence in all of last year.
U.S. and NATO officials have said Taliban militants threaten villagers into claiming that attacks killed civilians.
"There were some number of insurgents that were killed. We have no reason to believe that any civilians were killed at this time," NATO's Thomas said. He said soldiers called in airstrikes on "positively identified enemy firing positions" in a remote area.
Civilian deaths have been a growing problem for international forces in Afghanistan, threatening to derail support for the Western mission. President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly implored forces to try preventing such deaths.
Both a U.N. and the AP count of civilian deaths this year show that U.S. and NATO forces have caused more civilian deaths this year than Taliban fighters have.
In the south, militants attacked two police vehicles with gunfire and rocket propelled grenades overnight Thursday, and U.S.-led coalition and Afghan forces responded with artillery fire and airstrikes in what the coalition described as a "sparsely populated area" in Uruzgan province.
Gen. Zahir Azimi said 33 Taliban fighters were killed. The coalition reported "no indications" of civilian casualties, and said no coalition or Afghan forces were killed or wounded.
In Farah, a western province bordering Iran that has seen little violence until this year, insurgents attacked an Afghan security patrol from fortified positions and wounded five Afghan soldiers, the coalition said.
Afghan and coalition forces, using gunfire and airstrikes, killed "over 30" insurgents, it said. The coalition also said a ground commander "carefully evaluated risk of collateral damage" before firing.
The latest NATO casualties have raised the number of foreign soldiers killed this year to at least 105.
Back to Top
Back to Top
Brown assures Afghanistan of support
Sat Jul 7, 3:14 AM ET
KABUL (AFP) - New prime minister, Gordon Brown, called President Hamid Karzai overnight to reiterate his country's commitment to the fight against "terror" in Afghanistan, a statement said Saturday.
"Mr Brown, assuring his country's continuous support to Afghanistan, said Afghanistan's security is the world's security," Karzai's office said in a statement.
"He said the struggle against terror will aggressively continue and more efforts will be made in reconstruction of Afghanistan," it said.
Brown also invited Karzai to visit Britain in the "near future."
Britain has around 7,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, to rise to 7,700 in the coming months, which is the second-highest contribution to a NATO-led deployment fighting rebels after that of the United States.
The British soldiers are based in Helmand, perhaps Afghanistan's most dangerous province, where Taliban insurgents are said to be teamed up with foreign fighters from Al-Qaeda and opium producers helping to finance the insurgency.
Brown said this week his takeover would not mean a change of policy on Afghanistan and Iraq, where Britain has 5,500 soldiers.
"This house has got to remember that Afghanistan is the front line against the Taliban," he told MPs.
"And if we allow Afghanistan to become a weaker country again, the Taliban will be back in a way that we saw before the events of September 11."
The US-led drive that toppled the Taliban government in 2001 was launched after the 9/11 attacks by Al-Qaeda, then being sheltered in Afghanistan.
Back to Top
Back to Top
Caught Between the Tiger and the Precipice
Helmand residents find that, for them, there is little to choose between the government and the Taleban.
Institute for War & Peace Reporting By Aziz Ahmad Tassal (ARR No. 259, 6-July-07)
Najib, 25, was still in shock as he spoke to a reporter about his ordeal in his native Hyderabad, a village in Gresh ditrict of Helmand Province.
“The Taleban forced their way into our house,” he said, shaking. “They were trying to hide. And we tried to escape. They took away my brother, who used to work for the government. They said they would kill him. But when we tried to leave the house, to save ourselves from the Taleban, NATO was shooting at us, and killing us. They do not know who is Taleban and who is civilian.”
The June 30 bombing in Hyderabad left over 100 people dead, according to most sources. What is less clear is whether many of the victims were, in fact, combatants, or, like Najib and his family, bystanders in a war that is becoming increasingly vicious.
By now the differences are becoming academic: which town has the biggest death toll, where the Taleban are strongest, which bombing was most egregious. The details are always the same: a Taleban attack, a NATO response, dozens of bodies, piles of rubble, universal recriminations.
Complicating the situation is the absence of hard information. Most towns bombed are too remote to allow reporters easy access, and those reporting the casualty figures often have their own agenda.
For residents, the destruction of their homes and the death of their loved ones give rise to a wail of grief that tends to muddle some of the hard facts.
The Taleban are inclined to inflate civilian deaths and minimise losses among their fighters. The opposite tendency can be seen in NATO and Afghan government statistics.
Even within the Afghan government disagreements arise.
Dur Ali Shah, mayor of Greshk District, told reporters that 45 civilians were killed and 23 injured in the Hyderabad bombing. He added that 62 opposition fighters were also killed, although the number of wounded was unclear.
But Colonel Iqbal Gul, Greshk’s chief of police, denied the figures. “We sent a delegation to Hyderabad to search,” he told IWPR. “The results were eight civilians dead and four injured.” He added that 32 Taleban were killed, including two commanders.
NATO sources gave similar figures, as did Helmand’s new police chief, Mohammad Husseim Andiwal.
But Taleban spokesman Qari Yusuf denied that the attacks killed any Taleban.
“Two British military vehicles were burned,” he said. “All the soldiers inside were killed.”
Afghan president Hamed Karzai has become increasingly vehement in his condemnation of the bombing of non-combatants, and his government is launching an investigation into the mounting civilian casualties.
But for those caught up in the horror, this is of little comfort.
“The planes were bombing blindly,” said Sher Jan, a local resident. “At first the Taleban fired two missiles at a British convoy, then the airplanes came.”
Villagers began to evacuate, said Sher Jan, loading whatever they could of their household goods into various vehicles, including tractors. They formed a convoy and headed out of town, away from the fighting.
“There were more than 150 people in this convoy of tractors,” said Sher Jan. “The planes came again and bombed the whole line. To the north of Hyderabad there were others trying to escape, and they were bombed as well. It was a massacre.”
One resident, who did not want to give his name, called down a plague on both sides.
“When the government and NATO are in the villages, they arrest everyone if even so much as one bullet is fired at them. They do not care who is Taleban and who is civilian. But then if the Taleban win they will arrest everyone who worked with the government.”
He sighed, and voicing an old Pashto proverb, said, “We are between the tiger and the precipice.”
Aziz Ahmad Tassal is an IWPR staff reporter in Helmand.
Back to Top
Back to Top
Helmand: Trouble on All Fronts
The Taleban may not be the only, or even the worst, problem Helmand is facing.
Institute for War & Peace Reporting By IWPR trainees in Helmand (ARR No. 259, 6-July-07)
Corrupt police have been implicated in a wave of lawlessness in Helmand, which is fueling support for the Taleban - who, growing numbers of local residents believe, would restore order to the region.
The Helmand authorities last weekend arrested 35 highway police who have been charged with armed robbery. The group had allegedly been extorting money from motorists on the road from Lashkar Gah to Kandahar.
“We were taking money from vehicles,” one of the accused told IWPR, on condition of anonymity. “We took between 10 and 30 afghani per car (20 to 60 US cents) and more from trucks – up to 1,000 afghani (about 20 dollars). We had permission from our commanders. We collected the money, then gave it to our commanders, who divided it up.”
Mohammad Ismail, deputy of the police crime squad, told IWPR that the commanders had not yet been apprehended.
“These thieves were selling fuel from tankers to a private petrol station,” he told IWPR. “When we heard about this we went to arrest all of them. But the commanders… escaped.”
“We want to get rid of these traitors,” said Helmand’s governor, Assadullah Wafa, speaking to journalists in the capital, Lashkar Gah. “We are trying to make good security for the people.”
It is going to be an uphill battle. Helmand, which for the past year has witnessed major battles between foreign forces and insurgents, is in danger of descending into anarchy.
For the past month, residents have been complaining about the deteriorating security situation. Each day seems to bring a fresh wave of terror: kidnappings, bombings, robbery. While the insurgency drives much of the unrest, Helmandis are not ready to lay the bulk of the blame at the feet of the Taleban.
In fact, given the fact that many of the worst offenders may be wearing state uniforms, the wave of lawlessness is fueling support for the Taleban, which residents hope will bring order out of chaos.
“I will be very happy if the Taleban come back,” said Khudaidaad, a student in Lashkar Gah. “The security is very bad. I am going to school here in town and things are getting worse every day. I am afraid that I will be kidnapped, or someone will try and steal my motorbike. If the Taleban come back everyone can have his own property. People will support the Taleban if things keep going like this.”
Khudaidad’s fears are far from groundless. In early June, a young man was murdered in the Safyan neighbourhood of Lashkar Gah, allegedly by thieves who were trying to steal his motorbike, a common form of transportation in Lashkar Gah’s narrow streets.
The victim, 22-year-old Esanullah, was shot on his way home, at about 8:30 in the evening.
“He was only 500 metres from home, and two men tried to steal his bike,” said his uncle, Hajji Bismillah. “They shot him six times, and when people gathered around, they ran away.”
According to Hajji Bismillah, the government was doing little to try and find those responsible.
“The Taleban did not kill my nephew,” he said. “I am 100 per cent sure he was killed by criminals.”
For many Helmand residents, the word “criminal” is closely associated with government authorities. Like the police arrested in July, many uniformed officials have been accused of engaging in robbery or other actions directed against the population.
“All the insecurity comes from the government,” said one resident of Safyan neighbourhood, who did not want to be named. “They steal from us during the night and during the day they wear a uniform.”
Sayed Shah, brother of a prominent female doctor in Lashkar Gah, was attacked in early June as well. Eyewitnesses say that four men tried to force him into a car, but he resisted. They stabbed him several times with a knife, then ran away. Sayed Shah was treated in hospital and later released.
At least one of the attackers was wearing a police uniform, said a local shopkeeper who did not want his named to be used.
Two young men, Allah Nazar and Mansoor, were also kidnapped in early June. A note was delivered to Allah Nazar’s father, saying that the boys “had received God’s judgment”.
The bodies have not been recovered, and family members have not given up hope that the pair are, in fact, alive. Many presume that the pair were taken by the Taleban and executed for their links with foreign forces. The note referred to Mansoor as “a spy”, which for Taleban is a capital offense. Others, however, remain convinced that ordinary criminals were behind the act.
Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Mayo, spokesman for the British forces in Helmand, told IWPR that he had no information about the kidnapped pair. But in general, he added, things were not too bad.
“I think that the security situation over the past month has been good,” he told IWPR. “But the police and the ANA (Afghan national Army) need people’s help.”
Mohammad Essaa Iftekhari, recently replaced as security chief in Helmand, offered this assessment, “The security situation is worsened because of a number of factors, including a poor economy, bad cultural situation, and lack of cooperation between the people and the government. But the main reason is that the organs of government do not cooperate with each other. The people are living in a conflict environment.”
Iftekhari accepted that the situation had become appreciably worse in the past few weeks, and acknowledged that some police were involved. “There are problems in the police and some policemen are behind the crimes that we see,” he said. “There are some people who wear police uniforms and are involved in terrorist activities. They are not trained and not professional. They just got their jobs through influence.”
But, he added, poppy, drug smuggling, and illiteracy are the major factors of insecurity, “Most of the crimes are committed by drug smugglers who cooperate with the Taleban,” he said. “They are the enemies of Afghanistan and do not want the security situation to get better, so they are making things worse.”
Helmand Province is the world centre of poppy cultivation, accounting for almost half of the international supply of opium. Most observers blame the rising insecurity on drug trafficking, and the link between smugglers and the Taleban, who are likely to be filling their war chests with drug profits.
The Taleban, in turn, blames the foreign forces and those who cooperate with them for the growing problems.
“The enemies of Afghanistan are clear,” said one rebel commander in Nadali district, close to the capital. “They are foreigners, the ANA, the police, and other friends and allies of the government.”
“When these foreigners come to our soil, crimes, killing, everything increases,” he said. “The thieves and the criminals are within the government. And if they arrest anyone, they let him go the next day, because they take bribes.”
The Taleban, he added, were directing their activities at these people, “We have no wish to harm our fellow countrymen. We have punished many criminals. We have attacked police and planted roadside bombs. The government knows who is a Taleban and who is not. But they cannot do anything to us. They just bother civilians and take their money. They are too weak.”
ANA troops, backed by NATO, claim to have killed dozens of Taleban, including several prominent commanders, in the past few weeks. Unfortunately, they have also killed dozens of civilians, which makes the overall situation worse.
It is, however, true that the Taleban have inflicted heavy losses on the army and police in recent weeks. In mid-June a bus filled with police officers was blown up in Kabul, killing 35 and injuring dozens more. In Helmand , according to official sources, 40 police have been killed and 70 injured in the past two months alone.
The deterioration in Helmand has been rapid. In the past year, it has gone from relative stability to near chaos.
“One year ago there was good security in Nadali district,” said Zabiullah. “No killings, no kidnappings, and the schools were open. But when the Taleban came the security worsened and people began to panic. They opened the door for every criminal. Now schools are closed, stealing is up, and people don’t know what to do.”
“I cannot leave the town centre,” said Wahidullah, who was studying English in Lashkar Gah until threats forced him to quit. “I am so scared. There are murders, thefts. I thought that someone would kill me if I continued to study, so I left.”
Abdul Karim, a student who had come to Lashkar Gah from northern Washir, a district under the control of the Taleban, was equally pessimistic.
“When they burned down the schools in Washir I came here to study,” he told IWPR. “I rented a room and made a small shop to pay for my expenses. And I started English classes. But then I was threatened by the Taleban. I had to quit, even though it was only one month until graduation. My father tells me he will sell poppy so that I can go and study in Pakistan. The authorities cannot make security here. They do not do their job. They commit crimes themselves. And even if they catch a criminal they let him go in one day.”
Girls and women have been particularly affected by the situation. In Helmand, where cultural traditions keep women largely bound to the home, the worsening security has meant the loss of what little freedom they had gained.
“My family returned to Lashkar Gah from Pakistan about one year ago,” said young Nooria. “The security situation was very good, and we lived peacefully. I am in the fifth grade. But now my father does not let me go to school. He says the situation is not good. And the little children in our family cannot even go outside to play.”
Parwana is made of sterner stuff. “I am in the ninth grade,” she said. “Our school is very far from the house, and my brother has to walk me to the door of the school. People threaten us and tell us they will kill us. The security used to be good in Lashkar Gah, but now if we leave the house people come and steal our things. I will study anyway, even if they threaten me 1,000 times. I will keep going to school.”
IWPR is conducting a journalism training and reporting project in Helmand Province. This article is a compilation of participants’ reports.
Back to Top
Back to Top
Russia and Afghanistan to sign debt settlement accord soon
rbcnews.com July 6, 2007
Moscow 16:21:42.An agreement for settling Afghanistan's debt to Russia will be signed by the end of July, a Finance Ministry source has told journalists. Afghanistan currently owes Russia $11bn. Earlier, the signing of the accord was scheduled for the end of May, during the International Monetary Fund and World Bank's spring session.
The basis for the bilateral agreement is a multilateral protocol signed earlier between Paris Club creditors and Afghanistan.
Back to Top
Back to Top
Lights from India now illuminate homes in Afghanistan
The Hindu (India) Friday, Jul 06, 2007 S. Ramu
CHINTAPALLY: A tiny organisation in this village in Andhra Pradesh’s Nalgonda district is now a part of international efforts to reconstruct Afghanistan, supplying home lights based on LED (Light Emitting Diode) technology.
The small lantern-type lamp, developed by “Thrive” (jumbled acronym for Volunteers For Rural Health, Education and Information Technology), has been illuminating about 4,000 homes in the provinces of Kabul and Maidan Wardak in Afghanistan since November 2006. A consignment of 3,000 lamps is all set to reach there this month, according to B. Ranganayakulu Bodavala, founder of Thrive.
“[The illumination provided by] our light is undoubtedly equal to a half a dozen kerosene lanterns and it can also be recharged with solar light,” Dr. Ranga, who has an MBA besides a Ph.D. in information systems, said.
United Nations Emergency Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA) entrusted the task to the organisation to convince Afghans that this form of lighting is the most suitable in the absence of kerosene supply. As the $1.4-lakh project has come to an end, many local women are requesting Thrive to continue it, ready to pay from their savings.
Community participation is the key. “Each battery in the lamp lasts for three to four years and the village volunteer appointed by us recharges it once in a week. Our volunteers carry back-up batteries to replace the used ones,” Dr. Bodavala said.
As part of Columbia University’s Millennium Village project, Thrive despatched 500 lamps to Kenya. Another 300 were sent to Cambodia under an international project. Some non-governmental organisations have been working with Thrive to illuminate more off-grid areas in India. It is implementing a project for 10,000 Kondh homes in Koraput district with World Bank support.
The organisation imports LEDs from Japan, control circuits from the United States and batteries from China. It has produced 16,000 LED-based lights and is planning to go for mass production at a sprawling complex here to meet national and international demand.
Back to Top
|Back to News Archirves of 2007|
Disclaimer: This news site is mostly a compilation of publicly accessible articles on the Web in the form of a link or saved news item. The news articles and commentaries/editorials are protected under international copyright laws. All credit goes to the original respective source(s).