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Mehtar Lam PRT provides electricity to Afghan community

  • Published
  • By Capt. Gerardo Gonzalez
  • Mehtar Lam Provincial Reconstruction Team
A new micro-hydroelectric plant officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony near the village of Rayn, Afghanistan in the Alishang District of Laghman Province October 30.

The 25-kilowatt power-generating facility next to the Alishang River is the first of its kind to be completed in the district by the Mehtar Lam Provincial Reconstruction Team and is capable of providing electricity to 300 homes in the area.

"This project began more than a year ago and there were some challenges associated with it," said Lt. Col. Brad Bredenkamp, Mehtar Lam PRT commander, during a meeting with village elders and district officials after the ribbon-cutting ceremony. "But with God granting us his wisdom and the joint efforts between the PRT, the government and the people of Alishang, we were able to overcome the challenges and get this project done," he added.

Micro-hydroelectric plants use fast-flowing water, channeled from nearby rivers and streams, to turn a turbine engine fast enough to generate power, which is then wired to nearby homes.

In the past, some villagers have taken the initiative to build similar power plants in the district. Others should be encouraged to do the same where possible, the colonel said.

"Communities that can afford to build their own micro-hydro plants should do so," he said. "This way, the PRT can focus on helping the poorest villages."

Colonel Bredenkamp praised the completion of the project, but also indicated that much reconstruction work remains and district citizens are a key component in the process.

"In order to get these projects going, we all need to work together to improve security in Alishang so people can come here and do reconstruction without the enemies of Afghanistan destroying what is built," he said.

Village elders here agree that security is a problem but they say it's not overwhelming.

"Not all people here are causing problems," said an elder named Asadulla through an interpreter. "There are just a few."

Asadulla highlighted some of the problems that contribute to instability in the northern part of this district. "People here are very poor," he said. "We do not have enough land for agriculture and our young people need jobs."

The young men of working age in the district have to go abroad to countries such as Iran and Pakistan to find jobs, according to Assadulla.

He expressed his concern but also his gratitude toward the PRT.

"It's good news to see the PRT funding projects here in our district," he said. "Thank you for meeting with us and listening to our issues."

Others also expressed their support for the rebuilding efforts in the district.

"I appreciate what the PRT is doing," said Mulla Abdul Mateen, another citizen of Alishang. "Our [district] shura is ready to work side by side with the district governor and coalition forces in reconstruction."